Many professionals are leaving credit crunch Britain in search of better career opportunities, remuneration and quality of life. At Morpheus, we’ve witnessed a particularly strong migration east of Six Sigma, Lean, Operational Excellence and process improvement professionals over the past 12 months. Whilst statistically Europe is still the most popular destination as it’s relatively easy to work and live in as a British citizen, the lure of new Change related jobs in Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Australia and the UAE (once more), has been proving particularly difficult to resist for many of our candidates.
Working abroad has always proved a popular choice. Last year alone, over 200,000 British people left the UK permanently or semi-permanently. What’s different now is that moving overseas is not just predominately for retirees and gap year students…. many professionals are moving overseas to take up exciting new career opportunities. So why is working abroad proving more popular than ever?
With the economy remaining unstable and firms continuing to reduce headcount and offshoring jobs, opportunities to progress your career in the UK are in increasingly short supply. Even a short stint abroad can therefore be beneficial – it can also have advantages for your long term career with many professionals biting the bullet in order to get International experience on their Cv’s.
Making the decision
It’s a major decision, especially if you have a family with children of school age, a partner who also has a career or elderly parents reliant upon you (or all of the above). Can you face leaving behind family and friends? Are you really ready to start again in a new location and will your current employer be supportive and pay to relocate you and your family (increasingly in these austere times full corporate relocation packages are reserved only for the most senior executives).
For many professionals, the UK market simply isn’t offering up a plentiful enough supply of new and challenging career opportunities, so if you’re looking at positions abroad to make up for a relative lack of choice in the UK, consider how you’re going to make yourself relevant in the Global marketplace. What’s your International currency?
If the advantages of working abroad really do outweigh the disadvantages, then go for it but make sure your heart’s in it!
You might want to try working through this checklist before arriving at this life changing decision:
- Try before you take the plunge – living abroad is not like being on holiday! Consider taking an extended stay out of season in your chosen country and see if you really do like it enough to call it home, before you move your family out lock stock and barrel;
- The impact on your children’s education. If you’re moving with your family, will your employer provide and pay for schooling in a suitable International school? Make sure the cost of your children’s tuition fees is covered – these are typically eye wateringly high! Also getting admissions to the best expat schools can take years if there’s a waiting list (and there frequently is) so do your research!
- Healthcare – you need to look at the healthcare standards and the availability of treatment in your target location. Many countries don’t offer as good quality health services as we enjoy in the UK. Look very closely at the costs you may incur in accessing care, and the cost of medical insurance if this is not provided by your employer; health insurance should be a critical feature of your contract.
- Housing – do you rent before you buy – it’s risky to buy a house abroad before you have lived there long enough to know the best areas which suit your lifestyle requirements. Also, do you maintain a property in the UK or risk losing a foothold in the property market and the market pricing you out whilst you are away?
- Parents – are they elderly and likely to need frequent care and visits – this is’nt at all easy if you move to the other side of the world and the worry can be emotionally draining too!
- Cost of living – some locations are markedly more expensive than the UK (Zurich for instance), so make sure you do your homework;
- Financial planning – Are local taxes and pension schemes included in your employment deal? If not, what will be the likely costs of these?
- Contract length – The minimum period to plan to stay abroad on a permanent assignment should be around two years, but plan on regularily reviewing your situation in order to take advantage of opportunities as they arise;
- Relocation assistance – traditionally relocation packages have been generous, especially for senior staff and in demand skill sets. Beaware though: in these tough times, most organisations have trimmed their expat packages for all but Board level hires. “Local” term employment packages are now the norm. The days of the ultra generous expat packages are sadly long gone…
- Salary – Be sure to calculate and reconcile the cost of all of the above – only once you’ve done this are you ready to conduct an informed salary negotiation with your current or future employer. Factor in the less tangible costs (the risk of the move not working out and of repatriating in a hurry, plus the emotional strain of leaving friendships and family behind). Add these all up and formulate your own balance sheet – then negotiate carefully – you only get one opportunity to get the right deal for your dream move, so make sure you are net better off!
If you’ve concluded that you’re still ready to make this big move, then consider where the greatest demand is likely to be for your skills. BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, China and India) are growing rapidly whilst net investment in mature US and European markets is in relative decline versus Asia, with Singapore and Hong Kong proving the the most popular targets for expats seeking regional positions in 2011.
At Morpheus, we’ve successfully moved several executives to Asia in the past 12 months and currently have strong demand from financial institutions and Oil firms for executives to run significant Greenfield change programmes across the APAC region. Should you therefore wish to explore opportunities overseas, do get in touch. We can also connect you with regional partners, who can provide you with up to date local advice and tips.
There’s no reason at all why you cannot start a new and better career abroad as a business improvement professional, the process significantly improves your quality of life, career opportunities and salary, so long as you do your homework and have realistic expectations! Equally, if you’ve already taken the plunge by moving overseas to pursue a new career opportunity, then I would be keen to hear from you to discuss potential career opportunities or a move home. Please send me an email by. Please send me an email by clicking here.