This post was written by my husband who worked really hard to land us an expat assignment in Mexico. Some of you may have the desire to travel but want to keep your current job or stay in your career field. Not all companies offer international opportunities, but if yours does and you are interested in living abroad, check out this article!
1.) Review your company’s “International Mobility” Policy
An International Mobility (IM) assignment is ALOT of work so make sure your company offers proper compensation for your time and safety BEFORE you and your family decide on going expat.
2.) Communicate your wants EARLY – only you define your destiny.
Human Resources is known to take a long time to process an assignment, at least this is true in our case. It took 15 months starting from when B signed his contract to when we actually moved. Make sure you comment about your interest in an expat assignment in your yearly performance review just so it is on record. Try to “hint” your wants when you’re rubbing elbows with the big wigs.
3.) Be open to all international opportunities
Even if you don’t think you’re willing to take an assignment in a certain country, tell human resources you are. You need to demonstrate your willingness to move and yes you have to be willing to take the risk. Understand that an expat position may mean a jump in department. Often times the building of a new plant, tech center or training facility means that there are new positions that are needed to be filled.
This may seem like common sense but the company needs to know you are a performer who continually adds value to the organization. That’s how you build a reputation. Add value! Find a mentor, someone to take you under their wing. Many times the decision for an Expat assignment happens two or three levels above you.
It is good to have someone in upper management who will vouch for you. Reputation is very important when a company is trying to decide whether or not they should invest a lot of money in making your expat assignment happen.
5.) Show you’re ready to take on more responsibility
Often an expat assignment and a promotion go hand-in-hand so if you can already demonstrate you’re willing and able to take on more responsibility, the company may use an international assignment as a vessel to promote you to that manager or director level.
6.) Start learning another language
Taking the initiative to learn another language demonstrates you’re serious about International Mobility and that you have value to add. Knowing a second or third language gives you an advantage over other candidates. It also ensures faster acclimation to your surroundings in your new country of work, which makes focusing on work easier.
An expat assignment is not for everyone. There is a lot of stress involved when you are playing by someone else’s rules and not given a strict timetable or you are given a timetable and they don’t follow it. Luckily for B and I it is just the two of us and an expat assignment is a lot easier when you don’t have littles involved. If you want to learn more about our expat assignment check out How Being an Expat Taught Me About Minimalism.