Considering moving overseas to gain some international work experience? In today’s global economy, companies provide plenty of opportunities to work abroad. International work experience is seen as a valuable asset to have on your CV or résumé, especially if you have strong business English skills.
However, before accepting that offer and putting your signature down on the contract, there are a couple of things worth thinking through before you accept a new job abroad.
1. Legal stuff—Visa, work permit, and any other paperwork
If you need a working visa, make sure you get it sorted out as soon as possible. Usually your employer will support you throughout the process. However, there are plenty of documents to prepare from your side too, such as résumés, criminal record checks, and so on.
It’s good to make sure you fully understand the rights and limitations associated with the type of visa you’ll be issued. For example, some visas do not allow you to change jobs for a certain period of time. Find out what happens if your employer terminates your contract: Are you obliged to leave immediately or do have the right to stay in the country to look for another job. If yes, then for how long?
Working regulations vary from country to country and can be rather complex, so if you’re not sure, it might be worth getting professional advice from an immigration lawyer. The investment will pay off and save you time, money, and nerves. Government websites such as www.gov.uk, www.usa.gov, and www.australia.gov.au can also offer advice and guidance on the legal side of things.
2. Do the math—Expected salary, taxes, and cost of living
Even though your salary abroad might be higher than what you were or could be getting at home, it is important to take into consideration tax deductions and living costs. First, find out exactly how much you are going to receive after taxes. Then research accommodation, transportation, and food prices. This will give you an idea of what lifestyle you will be able to afford after the relocation.
Don’t forget about relocation costs. Will you need to move any of your stuff abroad or get things for the new home? If you already have a job offer, check with your future employer to see if they offer a relocation allowance to help you cover the costs.
3. Working conditions—Hours, holidays, and health insurance
Working hours and holiday allowance might also differ from what you were used to in your home country. For example, in the USA standard working week is 40 hours long, and workers take on average only 10 days of paid leave per year, while in the UK, employees work 35-37 hours per week, and a minimum 28 days of holiday allowance is enforced by law.
Health insurance is a significant factor as well since medical bills tend to be quite costly almost universally. Check whether your employer contributes towards health insurance, or consider getting international insurance if you are planning to move first and then look for a job.
4. Can you handle it?—Culture shock
Immersing yourself into a new culture is exciting, but trying to fit in with unfamiliar cultural expectations, traditions, and way of life can be quite challenging. Be open-minded and curious, and make sure you’re not spending all of your time in the office. Get the best out of what the new country has to offer—go to concerts and exhibitions, explore local galleries and museums, discover new foods, and travel on the weekends. Keep the bigger picture and main reasons why you moved abroad in mind, and it will help you to get through the adaptation period.
5. Keeping in touch with your roots—Family and friends
Moving abroad is a big decision, which certainly affects everyone in your family. Both travel distance and associated costs will affect how often you will be able to visit your parents, or if they will be able to come visit you. Think about emergency situations—in an event of poor health, is there somebody to take care of your parents or other close relatives? If you are in a relationship, consider the effects long distance might have on it if your partner is not planning to relocate with you.
Remember, the more research you do in advance, the smoother your transition will go. Don’t let the challenges put you off—after all, living and working abroad is an amazing experience and an adventure worth embracing!