Working abroad can give career a boost
Posted on November 14, 2011
Q&A talks about working abroad with Stacie Nevadomski Berdan of Glastonbury, an international careers expert and award-winning author of two books on the topic.
Q: You just published Go Global! Launching an International Career Here or Abroad. What in your background made you qualified to write such a book?
A: Go Global! is my second book. My first — Get Ahead By Going Abroad: A Woman’s Guide to Fast-Track Career Success — was published by HarperCollins in 2007 and won two business/career awards. I wrote it after spending almost 20 years in the corporate world in international positions, including a three-year stint in Hong Kong. I conducted research with successful globetrotters, including interviews with more than 200 women who had lived and worked overseas, and I identified a trend: Women excel in cross-cultural situations and can fast-track their careers by going global. I continue to work with international companies on global workforce issues, and I serve as an international careers expert for national media. I spend a significant amount of time these days speaking to organizations, at conferences and on campuses about the importance of “thinking globally” for everyone in today’s global marketplace.
Q: Except for Germany, the European economy isn’t doing that well. Does that mean people seeking foreign assignments are going to need to look to China or other Asian countries for opportunities? Are Asian countries open to foreigners in sufficient numbers?
A: Global job seekers who are serious about an international career should understand that they must go where the growth is. Right now that’s in China (10.3 percent), Singapore (14.4 percent), India (10.5 percent), Brazil (7.5 percent) and throughout the Middle East, especially Dubai. But the world is a very big place, and the global marketplace is dynamic. And so you must follow global news and pay attention to global events, international business, even natural disasters. Pay attention to international stock exchanges, political changes and large corporate and not-for-profit news. While doing so, identify experience, skills or relevance you have to this news and seek out the organizations that are growing, hiring. For example, when the Olympics gear up, when natural disasters strike, and when political upheaval happens — there are jobs to be had. If you follow global trends, and connect the dots between those events, your skills and the organizations involved, you start to see where the jobs are. Job seekers can also search for jobs on SimplyHired, Ladders and GoingGlobal. All have dedicated sections for global jobs now.
Q: You recommend looking beyond corporate positions to review options in not-for-profits, NGOs, education and government sectors. Can an American make a sufficient salary in those fields to make relocating overseas worthwhile? Will those sectors pay for relocation expenses?
A: The expatriate world has changed, even for corporations. Many large-scale companies don’t offer the same packages they used to because they need more global workers, and they know that workers need international experience. And although each organization is different, the opportunities to live and work overseas are both financially and professionally beneficial. I would not recommend you do it if you can’t make enough money to live within your personal comfort zone and so do the math: Research the countries, the salary, the cost of living and talk to people who are in-country now; they’re the best source of up-to-date, relevant information on the ground. And, yes, this applies to all sectors. I have quite a few friends in government (U.S. Treasury, U.S. State, FAA) who are doing quite well, as well as academics who are teaching in international schools or on international campuses, and even not-for-profit or NGOs. It all comes down to doing your research, networking, and gong after the job you want.
Q: What are some of the legal and practical complexities of pursuing an international career that people might encounter?
A: Work visas and taxes are two of the most important issues to consider and sort through before making your decision to work abroad. If you are transferred by an organization, it will usually take care of sponsoring your work visa and helping you with your taxes, which can get complicated. As an American, you are still liable for U.S. federal taxes for income earned above $91,500 (2010) and you will also be liable for local taxes in your new home country. Every country is different and so I recommend that you do your research on the specific countries you are interested in; some are very high (like Sweden), some low (Hong Kong) and others have trade deals with the U.S. that impact the rates for Americans. Work visas are required in almost every country, and I strongly recommend that you follow the local laws regarding obtaining official work visas. Again, each country is different and the rules can change. A good place to begin your research is the U.S. State Department’s website (http://www.state.gov/) where you can search for all kinds of helpful information, including a link to the CDC for information regarding health concerns in particular countries.
14 Nov 2011