Working internationally can have profound benefits, from swift advancement through your chosen career path to development of additional skills that prove invaluable back home.
However, international recruiters are notoriously hard to impress, and for good reason.
Failure rates among overseas assignments are high.
To negate these issues, recruiters routinely put candidates through rigorous hiring processes to ensure those selected are up to the challenge.
While all international relocation projects are different, there are a few traits that most recruiters will look for when selecting their candidates. If prospects can demonstrate these attributes, their chances of landing the role dramatically increase.
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Recruiters who work in the international sector have witnessed the failures of overseas assignments, which means they know what traits can be found in those who succeed. These are the three they commonly look out for:
1. Adaptability — Roles overseas have different stressors and pressures. They have different barriers to success and methods of achieving goals. The same job in the U.K., for example, won’t necessarily be completed in the same way as it will in China. Recruiters are looking for people who can adapt to changes in work structure and environment and navigate obstacles.
2. Experience — One way recruiters will attempt to bulletproof their hiring process is to hire those who already have proven experience working on an international level, and doing so successfully.
3. Communication — Being able to communicate with colleagues and clients is critical in most all roles. When placed on an international platform, customs and language differences can present problems for communication. Recruiters seek out those who they believe are capable of keeping clear channels of conversation open in unfamiliar cultures.
Landing the Dream International Job
Knowledge is power, so what can we do with it? Taking the lessons learned from what recruiters want, those looking to work overseas can aim to acquire these sought-after traits and boost their chances of landing that dream international role.
What can be done to achieve this goal?
Learn Languages — The ability to learn new languages is absolutely fundamental to many overseas roles. Even if you don’t know the language of your target destination, simply learning a foreign language demonstrates that you possess the ability to do it and would be able to do so again.
Absorb Yourself in Foreign Cultures — Recruiters want to know that you can be culturally adaptive, so show them. How? While it may sound like boasting, put forward the practical benefits of time spent abroad, especially any extended periods of travel in countries with strong cultural differences, and demonstrate your ability to communicate and operate internationally.
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Take Unpaid Opportunities — Recruiters want experience, but you can’t get experience if they won’t hire you. It’s a vicious cycle. Take yourself out this loop by working unpaid opportunities overseas, such as volunteer projects. By doing so, you can start to acquire the same types of skills and traits hiring managers are looking for in international candidates, without the prerequisite of having to gain such experience before getting the role.
Leave Your Comfort Zone — To operate on an international scale is unlike anything you’ve done domestically. Not only do you have to start a new job, and learn the ins and outs of working life abroad, but you also have to adapt personally to the world around you. This often places people beyond their normal limits and recruiters are keen to know if you can stand the test. Demonstrating that you are able to function well outside of your comfort zone is crucial to this. Take on roles and accept opportunities that show you can perform outside your comfort zone. This might include public speaking, managing large projects or getting involved with a local community. Provide significant evidence to support the idea that you can succeed in areas to which you aren’t accustomed.
Inspire Self-Confidence — Overseas assignments come with large costs, often over $100,000. For this kind of money, recruiters want to see success, which means they are looking for confident individuals who inspire that kind of belief. Do your research, talk to expats and network with people who have worked in similar roles before, and learn about how they succeeded. Then determine if can genuinely do the same. If you can enter a process with self-belief, then you’ll be able to demonstrate it to your hiring managers. If you have doubts, so will they.
Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor
Contributed by Mark Costa-Rising, a managing member of the Gerson Relocation team and an expert in international moving, with over two decades of industry experience.