The Benefits Of Working In A Foreign Country
Make Yourself More Marketable!
By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer
Would you consider working in a foreign country? Millions of Canadians already have. We go when our employer sends us, or do so on our own either as students and grads, or later when we’re looking for a change.
Working abroad means you’ll need to get a visa. And learn about local customs. Do research on how workplace practices may differ from what you’re used to. There could also be language requirements. For sure you’ll need a place to stay before and during your employment.
Making all of these arrangements, and then adapting to local customs, highlights your flexibility and sense of adventure. When you return to Canada, you can leverage your foreign experience to give you a competitive advantage.
Why Do We Work Abroad?
Canadians look for work beyond our country for many reasons. Some want to learn another language, or put their existing foreign language skills to use. Others are drawn to the novelty and excitement of living in a different setting. Some enjoy the challenge of building character abroad. Cultural exploration, or wanting to work in one’s country of heritage, are oft stated reasons as well.
Of course there are more conventional explanations too. Like not enough demand for your particular skills here at home. Or searching for a place where the cost of living is lower. Maybe just seeking a change of weather.
Key Benefits Of Working Internationally
If you go to work in a foreign country for a while, and then return to Canada afterward, your experience from abroad can be invaluable. Here are some things you’ll gain while away:
· Knowledge of other local customs and ways of doing things
· Insight into the workplace dynamics of a different country
· Independence in planning your travels, living arrangements and work habits
· Foreign language skills (or at a minimum, new dialects of your native language)
· A broader awareness of the world and its variety of people and cultures
Were you able to thrive in your new environment while away? If so, add adaptability to this list.
How Canadian Employers View International Work Experience
Perhaps surprisingly, not every employer here at home highly values your foreign work experience. Those that do tend to be multinational themselves, or else do business with countries abroad. They need your language skills, ability to work with international contacts, and familiarity with local conditions.
So how do you find the Canadian workplaces who want your international know how? One way is to use Monster.ca’s job search with the keyword “international” included.
Another is by identifying companies in Canada that export to foreign nations. For this you can use the free search tool at Industry Canada’s Company Capabilities database. Specify that you want to find companies that export to particular countries.
Some Downsides Of Foreign Employment
Before you pack your bags and plunk down money on an airline ticket, note that there are some drawbacks to working abroad.
The country you choose might have strict requirements for a work visa. Their economy might not be faring as well as Canada’s, meaning less demand for employees. There may also be a preference to hire local applicants.
Staying away from our country too long has its disadvantages as well. You can lose touch with your contacts back home. And employers who don’t value international experience might consider your time away a liability, if you haven’t been keeping up with developments here. There are also income tax implications that can get complex for you.
Does Working Internationally Work For You?
Working abroad is a great way to see the world. What better route to expanding your worldview while getting paid?
If the benefits outweigh the downsides for you, think about which country (or countries) you’d like to work in most. Contact their embassy to inquire about your employment eligibility. Research local customs and places to live. Update your passport. Then off you go on an adventure of a lifetime. Just be sure to stay in touch with your Canadian colleagues. They’ll help make your return far more hospitable.