One of the fastest ways to accelerate your career is to gain international exposure. Whatever it is you do; international experience is going to make you significantly better at your chosen career path. Employers also value this experience a lot more highly than those who have stayed in one country and only done things in one way. There are numerous benefits to working abroad and employers will pay a premium to acquire this capability.
Adapting to change
The world is in the middle of the digital revolution. Businesses and employees all around the world are struggling to adapt to this new reality. One of the key reasons that they are struggling to adapt, is none of them know how to question what they have always done, or simply know no other way of doing something. By moving abroad and getting international experience, you have already ticked this box.
When you relocate, you have to be hugely resilient and adapt to a huge amount of change. Most people only think about the big things when they move. Items like where will you live or learning the local language. But when you move abroad you have to fundamentally question everything you know. Something simple like food shopping becomes a challenge. What is the name of the supermarkets in your new country and where are they? Once you finally work out where the shop is, you go to pick up your preferred breakfast cereal and they don’t have it. Instead, you have 9 brands that you have never heard of and you have no idea what they are going to taste like. It is hugely disorientating, and you have to start again from scratch, unlearn what you thought you knew and question all of your assumptions or norms.
Potentially learning a new language has obvious benefits, but it’s your broader communication style that is going to develop. Working across countries you quickly learn how easy it is for communication to be misinterpreted. For example, a person from one culture may say “I will give it some thought”, which in their local context means “it’s a terrible idea, but I am saying it politely as I do not want to be rude” and another individual from another culture will hear “wow, great idea, I will see how we can do it.” By working abroad, you not only get used to dealing with people with different degrees of fluency in a language, but tone and subtext of communication. Hugely valuable when working for a large multinational company.
Gain a global perspective
Finally, by working abroad, you also learn to adapt to see the world from a new perspective. You understand that there are no norms and that there is no one universally accepted viewpoint on anything. If you want to celebrate Christmas in Japan, you will need to use your annual leave to take the day off, as it is just a normal day. That can be strange to those of us who celebrate Christmas and are used to everything being closed for the day or week. Even stranger to someone who is not Japanese, the customary food to eat in Japan on Christmas Day is KFC! In Thailand they celebrate the new year in April with huge water fights! In Denmark people will go to hang out at cemeteries to relax! The world is wonderfully diverse and learning to interact and partake in such customs without judgement or insult is a great skill to have.
*If you are looking to succeed in your career then you should check out my book – The Employee Handbook: A Practical Guide for Managing Your Career – which was ranked as the #1 Best Selling Career Book on Amazon Singapore. You can pick up a copy by clicking here. Alternatively, you can search for the book on any Amazon site including UK, US, Singapore, India, UAE, Japan, Canada, Australia and various others to order a copy. If you are in another location, Amazon will be able to ship globally to you. It is also available as an e-book via Amazon Kindle.