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Working Abroad – Reasons in Favor and Against



In job exchange/portal/websites, you will not only find interesting positions for specialists and managers, but also challenging vacancies within and outside your country or continent. But is it actually a good idea to go abroad to work? Does it really advance your career the way you hope? And what happens if everything turns out differently than you thought? We show what speaks in favor and against working abroad.

Anyone who works abroad gains life experience

According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, two thirds of European emigrants are looking to expand their personal horizons abroad. And that’s generally a helpful attitude, because a job abroad inevitably opens up new horizons for you – whether you want it or not. You need to:

  • deal professionally and privately with a new culture that, depending on the destination country, is completely different,
  • learn to articulate problems, wishes and instructions differently than usual,
  • get to know and accept new ways of thinking,
  • communicate and think in another language,
  • deal with a potentially completely different political and bureaucratic system,
  • maybe even question moral concepts and value systems that you know.

 Anyone who is open to this and specifically looks for new input will gain both personally and professionally from working abroad. This is particularly beneficial for managers who want to lead international teams: They train their ability to adapt to new situations, develop understanding and tolerance towards others and learn more calmness.

Before you go abroad, examine honestly and thoroughly your willingness to open your horizons. Otherwise, the culture shock will remain, demotivating and isolating you. The more open you approach the matter, the better.

Working abroad means having to grow with new challenges

Imagine this: For your dream engineering job in Singapore, you have to compete with well-trained local professionals who are also much more knowledgeable both linguistically and culturally. At the same time, you are looking for an affordable home on the housing market, you have to organize missing documents and quickly get the language certificate. And all without the social infrastructure that you could rely on back home.

For the US, you can consider going with NAFTA visa. And, if you are open to new challenges, they will enrich you personally. Not only do you learn to trust your own abilities, but you also learn to improvise more skillfully in difficult situations. Expats often report that working abroad has made them much better at developing solutions – even if they are unconventional. Young employees in particular learn to become more independent and self-confident when they go abroad.

Therefore, check whether your plans to live and work abroad are not guided by romantic clichés, but whether they can withstand a potentially chaotic reality.

Multilingualism as a gain in competence

In a globalized world, multilingualism is a valuable asset. Long-term or temporary work abroad can provide valuable support that no language course, no matter how good, can offer. Even if you never reach a native level, you will learn the country’s language thoroughly – a valuable bonus on your CV.

Even if your employer has many international colleagues on site and only English is spoken, you will definitely benefit from the language. In any case, you will improve your English skills and expand your knowledge of the local language.

Working abroad exposes you to different work cultures

Intercultural skills are essential for managers. And these can be learned nowhere better than abroad. Instead of making everything a problem in a goal-oriented and solution – oriented manner, managers can, for example, learn the fine art of common consensus from Japanese colleagues or positive thinking from Americans: Business success depends not least on talent, including with Little things in dealing with people score points.

So check to what extent you are prepared to throw old leadership and communication patterns overboard before you go to Brazil, for example, as the new Head of Finance. If you ride abroad with flying flags and a fixed mission, you will inevitably encounter other regulations regarding business agreements, problem solving and punctuality. Not only would you have to talk your head off trying to convince everyone about your work culture, but above all, you would quickly become frustrated.

Are your skills also needed abroad?

According to the study by Boston Consulting, many emigrants hope to be able to gain valuable professional experience abroad (61% of those surveyed). A survey by the InterNations organization found that it is primarily the group of 35 to 55 year olds who are looking for further vocational training abroad: In most cases, these age groups have already taken the most important steps in their careers and are now looking for what they want abroad a job in Germany cannot offer them.

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The chances of being able to do this abroad are great if you choose the right country. If professional development is your priority when looking for a job abroad, it is best to stick to target countries that actually offer you these opportunities. Be it because your professional profile is wanted there or the standard in your professional field is so high that you can sharpen your professional profile.

Of course, you will also learn valuable professional skills if you go to a country where you can provide a lot of input from your professional experience. However, check carefully whether your dream job abroad delivers what it promises. Otherwise they are only richer in experience, but not in technical expertise. It is best to speak in advance to a reputable personnel service provider such as Cobalt, who has in-depth knowledge of the requirements and conditions of international markets and can help you get closer to your professional goal.

You expand your professional network

The world is a village? What is certain is that the modern world is a network woven from diverse business relationships and personal contacts across national borders. When working abroad you have the opportunity to expand your network of contacts in the target country. If you work with expatriates from other countries around the world, you can expand your network to include many more international contacts.

The business contact culture is taken much more seriously in many countries. For example, elsewhere it is more common to go out to dinner with business partners after work, to give expensive or symbolic gifts at meetings, or even to invite colleagues and business partners to private parties. If you want to network successfully in your new job abroad, you should be familiar with the local customs.

Earn more or not – the salary question abroad

According to the InterNations survey, only 5% of expats go abroad to work for financial reasons. Nevertheless, the salary and the associated working conditions should of course be right. If you hold a similar position abroad as before in Germany, the same or higher salary may also mean that you will be more committed or accept significantly longer working hours.

Ultimately, the cost of living abroad also determines how much money you have available for rent, insurance, medical care, food, childcare, culture and transport. Our tip: Keep an eye on the salary, but don’t make it your primary motivation for wanting to work abroad.

The assignment abroad as a career boost?

In particular, employees who are sent abroad by your company for a limited period of time hope to receive a promotion in your department or other professional benefits. They are often rewarded with a more responsible position in the foreign branch. In other cases, these skilled workers are offered the prospect of promotion after their time abroad.

In order for these hopes to be fulfilled, expats have to take precautions. Human resources departments tend to forget about absent colleagues when it comes to the next promotion, while managers tend to leave employees abroad out of important decisions.

Many returnees also report that their experiences abroad often make them feel unappreciated in the company, for example because they do not get the promotion they were hoping for or because new ideas are not listened to. No wonder, according to Boston Consulting Group, many of you leave within the first year of returning. A loss for both sides! It’s best to secure your return in writing beforehand so that your time abroad doesn’t put you on the sidelines professionally.

Working abroad – adventure vs. the desire to have children

According to the InterNations study, singles or couples without children in particular go abroad to work. This makes sense, as you are more flexible and independent without young people. Otherwise, expats abroad have to build up an infrastructure (care, school, medical care) not only for themselves, but also for their children. Young professionals in particular use the time before serious family planning to gain independent experience and to remain flexible in terms of both their place of residence and work.

This also fits with InterNations’ observation that emigrants who are thinking about growing a family or having children abroad even tend to come back to homeland. They prefer a familiar environment with family and friends to raise their children and also look at the political situation in a country with different eyes when children are there. In popular emigrant destinations such as Singapore or the USA, childcare, health insurance and school attendance are ultimately also a question of cost.

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