Moving abroad for work could be the perfect way to get ahead in your career.
ReviseSociology had some interesting stats about how long the average person spends at work during their life… we spend 1,842 hours at work each year, apparently.
A person who works from the age of 18 and retires at 67 would spend 92,120 hours working. That’s 35% of your life’s waking hours spent at work.
However you look at it, we spend a big chunk of our life at work, and young adults are prioritizing their career like never before. For many, a successful career is the number one goal in life.
Partly because of this, the jobs market in the U.S. is more competitive than ever. The increasing job competition isn’t only coming from young people, though. Every year the average retirement age increases, so people work longer than before. This shrinks the pool of available jobs, an unheard-of problem for previous generations.
Thankfully, you can make yourself more attractive to potential employers… you can stand out and arm yourself with the skills you need to succeed, not only in business but in life.
Going overseas to work (or even just to learn a new language) gives you lots of the skills employers look for—but can’t find—in the current U.S. workforce.
The numbers back this up. A report from New American Economy found that the number of U.S. job postings for bilingual workers is increasing. In particular, a need for people fluent in Mandarin, the most spoken language in China.
In 2010, some 240,000 vacancies were posted required Mandarin speakers. By 2015 that number was around 630,000. The share of U.S. job listings for Chinese speakers increased by 45.5% between 2010 and 2015. That’s a huge rise in jobs… and it’s set to continue.
It’s not only Mandarin speakers being recruited. Across America, bilingual students are being chased by big companies. Despite demand, the number of bilingual workers is actually decreasing. This is one reason moving overseas is a great career move.
Get Ahead Abroad
A well-known correlation exists between higher education and a higher salary. Naturally, this means more people seek higher education. In the last 10 years, the number of higher education students has increased by 28%. In 1940, around 5% of people had a bachelor’s degree. Today it’s over 33%. Unfortunately, the market is now over-saturated, making top jobs harder to find than ever before.
This talent surplus has left companies in a position of strength, with recent graduates being the hardest hit. Previously, graduates could find a job in their chosen field on completing higher education, but now the job surplus has given companies more options so they’re increasingly requesting people with previous job experience.
This is a Catch-22 situation. You can’t get a job because you don’t have the experience but you can’t get experience without the job. Moving abroad to work can be a great way to get on the job ladder for a recent graduate. Many developing countries have far more jobs than suitable candidates.
Top Jobs In The U.S. Go To People Who Worked Abroad And Speak More Than One Language
Most of the top earners and best-paid CEOs speak more than one language. People who speak more than one language earn up to 20% more per hour than their monolingual counterparts. People hiring for the top positions at big companies look for bilingual or multilingual candidates as a priority.
Learn A New Language
Moving abroad usually means learning a new language, which comes with a range of hidden benefits. For starters, learning a second language boosts concentration and memory. According to scientists, the rise of the smartphone has left many people with a goldfish’s attention span. People with improved concentration spans will become rarer as smartphone use becomes more ingrained into everyday life.
Learning a new language improves logical and analytical capabilities. Speaking another language won’t turn you into Dr Spock overnight, but improved logical and analytical capabilities are sure to be a big help and enable you to perform better at work.
Learning a new language also has health benefits. Did you know that people who speak more than one language are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in their old age? Speaking at least one language allows your brain to create new neural pathways. The extra pathways improve your brain function and keep Alzheimer’s and dementia at bay.
As well as the extra confidence that comes from mastering any new skill, learning another language has cognitive benefits, too. How about improving your creativity? In an idea-driven world, creativity is one of the most prized assets companies look for in employees. When learning a new language, having to piece together new sentence structures stimulates your brain in ways proven to make you more creative. Studying sentence structures can also improve your abilities in your first language.
Interestingly, people are also more likely to employ logical thought when thinking in their second language. Probably because the second language doesn’t contain as many subconscious emotional triggers. This makes it easier to avoid emotionally driven thoughts and employ logic instead.
Thinking in a second language also steers people away from loss-aversive thought. Loss-aversive thought means that fears dominate the mind more than the potential gains. This isn’t the sort of attitude potential employers want to see. To quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune, “Fear is the mind-killer.” By removing fear, you remove another bias from your thought process and become more positive.
If You Have Children Overseas, They Will Learn A New Language
Anyone who’s studied a foreign language at school will tell you it can be an unrewarding experience. Unsurprisingly, encouraging children to learn another language can be a thankless task.
Despite this, the best time to learn a new language is when you are young. Older people sometimes struggle, needing to put many hours of hard study into mastering a new language. For a child it is a simple and intuitive process. If you have a child, immersion will let them become fluent in the new language rapidly.
Why stop at one language? Learning a second language makes it far easier to learn subsequent new languages.
Make Contacts Abroad
The world’s getting smaller. Globalization is connecting the world in commerce, trade, and knowledge; necessitating people with new skill… such as the need for multilingual workers.
Companies are doing more overseas business than ever before. If you’re able to provide your new company with valuable contacts in another country they’ll see your salary pays for itself.
Having business contacts overseas also demonstrates a few other important attributes. It shows you understand the culture and that you know how to make connections. Both of these are highly prized by employers. Knowing how to make connections is useful for business networking and making a pleasant and productive working environment.
Your understanding of another culture can enable your new business to avoid any potential blunders, and gives useful information on how best to engage with the people they’re looking to build relationships with.
Gain New Life Skills
When you move abroad, your ability to survive depends on your ability to learn new skills. The first skill you need to learn is how to be adaptable. You’ll be surprised at just how many changes you need to make. Some will be mundane, like navigating new public transport systems. Others, such as a new diet and new cultural traditions, might be more difficult. Potential employers notice your ability to survive and thrive.
Businesses know that if they can’t adapt they will fall behind. Having a worker who embodies this principle is an advantage. Companies want employees who can adapt to their values and principles. By working abroad and being successful, you’ve shown these qualities. Big companies are well aware of this—it’s one of the main reasons they favor people who’ve spent time abroad.
When moving abroad you’ll become familiar with new cultures and new ways of doing things. This experience can be invaluable for a business. Knowing how to make a good impression and build relationships is vital to get anywhere in the professional world.
Employers often lament that skills like communication and critical thinking are lacking in younger jobseekers. Rightly or wrongly, employers feel younger generations don’t have enough life experience. Interacting through computers and smartphones, there are concerns about the ability of millennials and younger generations to talk face to face.
Become More Confident
Confidence is one of the attributes every employee wants in a candidate. Confidence sells products, and fuels the “can do” attitude that makes anything possible. One of the best ways to gain confidence is to go outside of your comfort zone and test yourself in a new environment. Going overseas forces you out of your comfort zone and makes you learn new skills. These are two of the biggest confidence builders there are.
Good For Hobbies And Personal Life
A hobby to improve your career prospects… must be golf, right? Not necessarily. For those who enjoy other pursuits, good news: All hobbies can give you a major career boost. While moving abroad to spend more time doing your favorite hobby might not seem an obvious way to a successful career, many company bosses see it differently.
Cofounder and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says having a hobby is something he looks for in prospective employees. He believes having a hobby shows passion and drive, skills that transfer to the workplace. Going abroad and mastering a hobby shows you’re able to achieve the goals you set for yourself.
Health is another benefit of having a hobby. People who have a hobby they enjoy regularly are less likely to need days off work due to illness. A longer life and taking and having a hobby you enjoy at least once a week are also correlated.
Having a hobby outside of work hints at a well-rounded personality, someone who knows what they want out of life. The correct work-life balance is the stated goal for a lot of people, but how many actually follow it through? If you move abroad to make the most of a favorite hobby, you can expect to be rewarded in other areas of your life.
Save Money Living In A Cheaper Country
House prices in the States are some of the most expensive in the world. Getting on the housing ladder is more difficult each year. While the baby boomer generation were able to secure home ownership with no difficulty, the millennial and subsequent generations are becoming known as “generation rent.” They’re missing out on the value of a property and, in most cases, renting is more expensive than paying a mortgage.
Property has long been one of the most secure long-term investments you can make. Moving abroad often provides a better chance to buy a property. An investment in property overseas could pay dividends later on in life—you can sell your property or rent it out. This provides income in another currency, giving you some diversification and an extra layer of financial security. Diversifying your wealth is a great wealth-growing strategy.
A benefit to living abroad—often overlooked—is learning to save money. The United States is the home of convenience, with a somewhat wasteful culture. Moving abroad can mean learning to go without… getting used to living without unnecessary items will save you money abroad.
These good habits will be easier to keep when you return.
We hope you took some value from this article on why moving abroad for work can be a good career move. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments, in the comments section below.