There are a few things in life that we feel are for “others,” but not for ourselves.
Owning a Porsche, food shopping in Harrods or taking every Friday and Monday off could be examples; but there are a good few other instances that are less out of reach than they seem. Having a stint working abroad could be one of those!
Where skills and knowledge are transferable, and language is not a barrier, taking a role abroad can broaden horizons and provide unique experiences that would never have come to fruition at home. Recruitment is an industry that lends itself well to international moves, and UK recruiters are some of the best qualified in the business plus they come from a mature market…there are many benefits to be enjoyed for those who take the plunge.
However, there are many more who don’t even consider it.
On a business trip last month to our offices in Singapore and Sydney, it struck me that their candidate shortages can be alleviated in a way that a UK candidate shortage cannot. Recruitment businesses in these regions need to market themselves more actively to the UK recruiter base. We need to make candidates in the UK more open to an international move – and to demonstrate to them what they could enjoy.
For a UK candidate with a decent record of billing and a solid knowledge of their market, if their personal circumstances allow for a couple of years abroad – or longer, it strikes me as a no-brainer. Many more senior candidates travel with families (although school fees can be prohibitive) and a fair few younger ones actually stay and put down roots – of course if one travels and finds love...new job, new life, new relationship, new everything! The UK market is becoming squeezed at both ends by technology that enables companies to recruit more effectively for themselves and a tsunami of solopreneur recruiters working in ever smaller micro-niches. Working abroad simultaneously relieves this pressure and also gives you a unique life experience.
Of course, there has to be a significant amount of commitment from both sides. The recruiter has to feel that their future employer believes in them and will support them in the transition (sometimes financially and definitely in terms of guidance re where to live, what paperwork and medical checks are needed) and in return the employer has to be assured that the individual is worth the investment and will make the transition. Having said this, despite the geographical distance, securing an international role is not always so much more complicated that a local one. The level of bureaucracy is higher with visa and tax implications, but once that has been dealt with, the considerations are much the same as any other move.
Except you can chose to be moving to Sydney instead of Leeds! You can have weekends away in different locations – not return to Blackpool and Devon (much as you might like those beaches too!)
Choosing where to work is far from easy and I hope that we are able to offer some sage advice in this area. Sydney is a different beast to Brisbane, and Singapore is a whole world again, but with hundreds of placements under our belts we have a feel for where you might thrive. Often a candidate has family and friends abroad too which is a draw – maybe they’ve visited before and liked it.
It is true to say that it always makes sense to have a back-up plan just in case you want to return. Keeping in contact with your old network is crucial and will help to smooth your journey back home – the activities of many “expat” recruiters online help to maintain their visibility and make those initial enquires that little bit easier. Making the move back isn’t always the easiest sell, but in my view the transferrable skills and varied experiences are worth their weight in gold.
It might not be forever, and if it is well that’s fine too - however a few years abroad can definitely give you a real sense of accomplishment, joy and that added extra dimension!