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How to advance your career overseas

Georgia Muir
Monday, December 6, 2010
Advance your career overseas
People tend to assume if you move overseas and work a professional job your salary will increase. This however isn't always the case.
Georgia Muir
The idea of working overseas is inspiring to many people — it provides the opportunity to explore the world, meet new people and be exposed to foreign languages and cultures. From a professional point of view it's great for career advancement, formalising your skill set and increasing your earning potential.

When is the right time to go?
People tend to assume if you move overseas and work a professional job your salary will increase. This however isn't always the case.

For example, moving overseas with few or no skills can be a struggle as it's likely you'll be working just to make ends meet. And if you don't have a disposable income to splash around and enjoy you'll be frustrated you can't embrace and experience your new city.

A better time to go is when you have acquired enough skills to land a mid-weight to senior position. As well as shining on your cv, these positions can be very lucrative.

The economy, employment rates, demand for skills, perseverance, who you know, will all influence how long you will look for and the type of opportunity that will arise.

Identify what you want to gain from the experience
Knowing what you want to get out of moving overseas is vital. Moving overseas for work is exciting but it won't always live up to your expectations, especially if your standards are unrealistically high. Chances are you could be end up being disenchanted with your new role, you may dislike the city or feel lonely and isolated.

Identifying the reason you are embarking on this challenge will help you adopt a positive mindset and allow you to focus if times get tough.

Your aim may be to:

  • Discover and live in a foreign city
  • Be exposed to overseas work experience
  • Learn about your profession in an overseas market
  • Get rich quick
  • Let loose and extend yourself personally
  • Use your new city as a base for travel

Do your research
Moving will be less stressful if you take the time to carry out comprehensive research before you leave. It is important to familiarise yourself with the political, cultural and economic conditions of the country and find out about health issues and attempt to learn the language if necessary.

Researching your new employer before you become an employee
If you are offered a job overseas, you should consider the following before you accept the offer.

  • Find out as much as you can about the company by talking to current employees, carrying out internet searches and by talking to people in your industry.
  • Check your contract and conditions of employment. Are you being paid in local currency? Does that translate to a viable salary/package?
  • Research the local cost of living and check if it is relative to your package.
  • Does your employer make contributions to your superannuation?
  • Do you get a relocation fee? Visas, flights, accommodation, bills, Blackberry etc?
  • If your contract is complex, get a lawyer to have a quick look over it and ensure you are not bound into an undesirable agreement.

Being bound by a contract
Employers often lock employees into positions by offering them large salaries with lifestyle benefits such as relocation costs, rental allowances and other generous offerings.

The catch is that the employee is bound to a contract for a fixed term. Some companies even go to the extent of the making the employee pay back a percentage of their income if this term is breached.

So, make sure you check the fine print. Once you sign, you have given your legal consent to the conditions of the contract.

Taxation overseas
If you earn any income while you are overseas, you may be required to pay tax on that income in the country where it is earned. You should check the rules and regulations with the country's embassy, high commission or consulate before you leave New Zealand.

Passports, visas and work permits
Arranging passports, visas and work permits is always easier from home base. Check whether you require one and give yourself as much time as possible to apply. It can be a very painstaking process so the sooner you get started the better.

Contact the relevant foreign embassy, high commission or consulate to get information on visas.

United Kingdom
The United Kingdom offers ample opportunities in all sectors, in particular health care, government, education, manufacturing, IT and business services.

Recruitment agents
Whilst recruitment agents in your home city may be a pest and call incessantly about dud jobs, overseas they can be very useful. They know the industry inside out and have access to networks of contacts that you have yet to establish.

Try:


Going solo
Researching and contacting suitable employers before you leave is a good idea. They may even be willing to interview you by phone or video conference prior to your arrival.

Tax-free Dubai
Dubai is one of the world's fastest evolving employment hotspots, especially in IT, media and finance. Many people are being lured by the bright lights, a tax free income and chance to roam the Middle East.

Keep in mind that living costs are comparable with London and New York and the working week can often be six days in the private sector, taking only Fridays off.

Australia
Obtaining a visa is painless, our pleasant neighbours allow New Zealand citizens to live and work in Australia for an indefinite period. And to reduce the paperwork, when you enter Australia on your NZ passport, you automatically receive a Special Category Visa (SCV). This entitles the right to live and work anywhere across the country.
Visa info: http://www.australia.org.nz/wltn/VisaFAQ.html

The ease in getting a job will depend on your industry and the city you have chosen to reside in. The majority of jobs will be where company headquarters are stationed, most commonly Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.

A good place to start your search is Seek.

Undecided
If you have a particular skill or area of expertise and you're not sure where to head, why not work backwards and find out where your skills are most in demand.

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