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How to Make an International Career Move
, 30th October 2019
8 min read
Recruitment Resources

In this article you will learn:

  • Why you should consider an international career move
  • What to consider before making a move
  • How to make a move overseas
  • How to move to the United States
  • Tips for making an international career move

An international move may initially seem like a daunting prospect, but it can be invaluable as a means of advancing a person’s professional development. Pursuing an international career provides the kind of experience that many multinational corporations consider to be an asset, while also offering an expanded business network and the opportunity to work with professionals from different cultures. But while by the concept of moving internationally intrigues many professionals, some are unsure whether they would be well-suited to this kind of momentous change. By evaluating potential opportunities and considering the practical realities involved in such a move, it becomes easier to make the right decision. 

Why You Should Consider an International Career Move

There are many undisputed advantages to making an international career move which can help to further a person’s personal and professional growth. These include: 

  • Becoming More Adaptable: Working internationally requires a certain level of adaptability if a person is going to succeed in the role. Different cultures will operate with their distinct forms of business etiquette, which while challenging at first, will result in increased flexibility and enhanced communication skills (traits that will be highly valued during future job interviews). 
  • Gaining Higher-Level Job Roles: Whereas competition may be fierce for high-level positions in the UK, US and Germany, many other countries are experiencing skills shortages and are actively seeking qualified professionals to fill key roles. Relocating to a country with strong market growth and a shortage of skilled professionals may lead to a coveted job role.
  • Creating A Global Network: The further a person’s career network expands, the greater the future job possibilities. Working overseas creates an international network of industry contacts which can be cultivated and maintained even after an individual decides to return to their home country.  
  • Learning A New Language: Numerous studies have proven the personal benefits of becoming bilingual, but speaking more than one language can also help professionally. According to a survey on, the average bilingual worker earns 5-20% more per hour, while a poll by Korn/Ferry International found 64% of executives spoke at least two languages. 
  • Obtaining Improved Sense of Self: Researchers have found that those who spend time living overseas develop a better sense of self. The research team stated, “that living abroad affects the fundamental structure of the self-concept by enhancing its clarity.” This, in turn, has been shown to enhance job performance, lower stress levels, and improve overall life satisfaction. 

What You Should Consider Before Making an International Career Move

When it comes to considering an international career move it is important to evaluate the various pros and cons tied up in each unique opportunity. Before deciding whether to move overseas in pursuit of a job role, an individual would do well to consider:

  • Point of Difference: If a person has been headhunted for a certain role or has been offered a transfer within their company then they have already demonstrated their point of difference – what it is that makes them stand out. For those seeking work overseas, it is important that they first establish what in their experience will make them more qualified than local workers. A business is unlikely to hire an expat if that person can’t articulate their superior experience and qualifications, so it’s important to discern a valuable point of difference. 
  • Cost of Moving: This may seem obvious but evaluating the potential cost of moving goes beyond just calculating the financial aspect. It is also important to consider what sort of emotional and mental impact a change of this magnitude may elicit. Relocating overseas will open the door to a lot of new opportunities, but it may also reduce access to family, friends and familiar comforts.
  • Legal, Taxation and Banking Requirements: A professional considering an international move must do thorough research into practical compliance issues. This should include what visas are required to work in the country and whether local taxation laws will apply. It’s also worth understanding how wages will be paid and what will be required to access funds locally. 
  • Establishing a New Network: Loneliness can be one of the biggest obstacles faced by those making an international career move, so it is important to consider how best to deal with this issue. Establishing a new network can assist in helping expats to adapt to a new location as well as providing new opportunities for friendship. 

How To Make a Move Overseas

Once a decision has been made to seek an international career move several practical steps can be taken to assist with this kind of endeavour. For those who are seeking a suitable job role and haven’t yet received an offer, it can be useful to:

  • Explore Different Avenues: One way an individual can get started with seeking work overseas is to look within their current organisation. If the business is already multinational, then it could be as simple as requesting a transfer to an overseas office or volunteering to be part of a future expansion team. Alternatively, registering with a global professional development platform can open many doors for international career advancement. 
  • Pursue an International Master’s Degree: For those seeking to advance their degree, pursuing an international Master’s degree like an MBA can be an excellent way to expand their current network and employment desirability. Not only will this develop a person’s international business experience, but it will also be viewed favourably by multinational organisations looking for globally-minded job candidates. 

Regardless of whether a professional is still looking for a suitable overseas job role or has already been offered a position, it is important to think about:

  • Having A Consistent Story: One of the big questions that overseas employers will ask is why a person is interested in moving their career overseas. International employers are looking for workers who are committed, therefore, an inconsistent or lacklustre story will be viewed negatively. Conversely, professionals who are consistent, enthusiastic, and able to articulate exactly why they want to pursue an international career move will be favourably remembered. 
  • The Logistics of Moving: Having logistics in mind from the very beginning can make it easier for professionals planning an international career move. In addition to finding work, an individual will also need to obtain the necessary work authorisations or visas, find a suitable place to live, and potentially acquire some form of insurance in case of accidents or emergencies while living abroad. 

How to Move to the United States

When it comes to moving internationally, there are some specific challenges to consider when moving to the US that differ from other countries. The visa process operates on a lottery system, which in theory keeps the process unbiased. However, in recent years this has become increasingly more difficult than ever before to secure. The two best ways to relocate to the US are:

  • Internal Transfer: Internal transfers are often easier said than done, especially within consulting. In order to make this happen, you need to develop connections on both sides of the transfer, your home office needs to vouch that you are highly skilled etc, and the incoming office needs to push to have you transferred. Once initiated, you’ll need to acquire an L1 Visa (Intra-Company Transfer Visa) and after roughly a year on the L1, your current employer will sponsor an H1B Visa. These visas can be transferred to most companies thereafter. 
  • An American MBA or Master’s degree in Analytics: As mentioned previously, one way to facilitate an international move is to pursue higher education. This does not guarantee a work visa after graduation, especially in the US. However, it will allow you to network with the right people and the opportunity to gain an internship. American programs tend to be two years, and you’re expected to have a summer work experience. In an ideal world, that summer internship will transition to a full-time offer.

Top Tips for Making an International Career Move

An international career move will always be challenging, but there are a few simple tips that can make for a smoother transition: 

  • Accept Help: Many employers will offer some form of assistance when it comes to moving internationally. This could be in the form of relocation support, help with filling out the necessary legal paperwork, or by providing temporary or permanent housing. 
  • Do Research: Knowing what to expect can make moving to a new country much easier, so it’s worth researching to find out what it is like to live and work overseas in a particular country. Beyond just basic facts, the goal should be to develop an understanding of that country’s culture and history.
  • Mingle with Others: Socialising with other expats can be a good way to learn how best to adapt to local customs, but it’s worth looking beyond this limited circle. If a person wants to immerse themselves in the culture and become proficient in their new language, then they’ll need to spend time with locals. Joining a neighbourhood club or embracing a new hobby could be a good way to get started.

Prepare for the Language: The language barrier can be one of the greatest sources of frustration for those living and working overseas, but a little preparation can go a long way towards overcoming the language barrier. Learning some basic phrases before arriving in the country should enable a person to introduce themselves, exchange basic greetings, and ask simple questions.


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