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Is International Work a Good Option for You?

By Megan Fitzgerald

One of the ways that you can land work abroad is to relocate via the company at which you are already working

Things to Consider When Relocating Abroad Within Your Company

For some people, the first step towards making a move abroad is actually getting a job at an organization that has international operations to facilitate this possibility.

But there are many things to consider before making the decision to pursue an international assignment:

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Your Long-Term Career Plan

Moving overseas with a company does not guarantee that your career at that company will be accelerated as a result of the assignment. It also does not guarantee that there will be a job waiting for you upon your return.

In some cases, quite the opposite result can occur if pre-emptive steps are not taken to avoid this. You can't assume that your company is thinking about your career path when they send you overseas to address immediate or short-term business objectives.

First and foremost, I recommend that you start with your long-term career goals in mind and determine how an international assignment would actually support them.

Then, work with your company to insure there is a strategy in place for capitalizing on your international experience when the assignment is done.

Understanding the Value of International Experience

It's important that you understand the value of gaining experience abroad so you can convey this to your organization and help them understand how they can benefit.

Surprising as it is, there are many companies who invest hundreds of thousands sending an employee overseas, but do not understand how they can best capitalize on that investment upon their return.

Due to this lack of understanding, they often place these employees in jobs that underutilize their skills once they have returned - especially those skills newly gained from their experience abroad. This is one of the reasons why up to 40% of international assignees leave their organization after their first year of being back.

The Impact on Family

Moving abroad is not just your decision - it affects the whole family. To set you up for success, be sure that making the move is a decision that everyone involved is on board with.

The move can affect all aspects of life and work/life balance issues can arise. This means that there is often more burden placed on family members to deal with the move - everything from setting up house, getting kids in schools, and/or getting access to the right doctors and service providers necessary for getting through daily life.

Reportedly, the number one reason for international assignment failure is spousal dissatisfaction. Having your spouse excited about a move abroad and informed about the realities of what it means for them is critical. A failed international assignment is not going to bode well for your career future at your current (or any other) company.

The Bottom Line

Doing the proper amount of reflection and communication with your family and employer will help you make the right decision about relocating abroad with your company, and set you up for long-term career success.


About this author...

Megan Fitzgerald is an expat career and personal branding coach, CEO of Career By Choice, and your guide to the world of international careers. With two decades of experience supporting professionals and entrepreneurs in 40+ countries across 6 continents, Megan uses a 360°approach to help expats and international job seekers become highly visible, sought after, and land work abroad. You can read about expat careers at CareerbyChoiceBlog, and also find her on Twitter as @ExpatCoachMegan, on Facebook and Google+, and, of course, on LinkedIn.