I still remember that call, asking me whether I would be interested in considering a move overseas to take up a significant role and career change in Singapore.
Having been based in the U.K. all my life, it was a fairly life-defining moment for me. Could this be the opportunity I was looking for, as I'd been wanting more challenge and instead was finding myself plateauing in my role? Was this fate stepping in?
Now, I know that for most people, making a decision to move abroad for a new job is certainly not an easy one. There are so many things to consider, but what I learned from my first overseas move has continued to support me throughout all the subsequent moves I've experienced throughout my career.
Here are eight lessons on how to move abroad for a job.
1. Consider whether you are moving alone or with your family/partner.
If you move alone, your existing support network won’t necessarily be there, but also be mindful that moving others abroad with you comes with its own pressure. It's hard not to feel responsible for how well they'll integrate into the new country, for instance.
2. Don’t try and replicate what you had at home.
Living in a large property with gardens and a garage is often unheard of when moving to certain countries. Be prepared that your living conditions may change, but see that as an opportunity to live "as the locals do."
3. Recognize that you'll be a guest in someone else’s country.
And that means respecting their culture. Take time to embrace that experience, and be aware that cultural differences may be evident. Often, these are expressed as differing work styles within your new office. One area that still surprises me is that cultures have different appreciations of "timeliness;" therefore, you shouldn't necessarily expect that because you are always on time for a meeting or call, others will be as well.
4. Hunt out resources.
There are some great tools and resources available to understand how different cultures work, like the site Commisceo Global, which offers free culture guides to over 80 countries. Use those to assist you in improving cross-cultural understanding.
5. Make sure you understand the basics — like the cost of living.
Moving abroad for a job as a "local hire" versus an "expat" are very different, so take the time to understand how much basics like rent, food and utility bills would detract from your new salary.
6. Make sure you understand the logistics.
In some cases, you become a tax resident in the new country depending on your home location, but it’s important to seek some advice in advance so you don’t get a shock later on.
7. Appreciate your newly global network.
Take advantage of the fact that you went from a local to global network. This is something that has proved a real benefit for me throughout my career in my ability to call upon colleagues far and wide.
8. Be grateful for your transformative new opportunity.
The wonderful career development and experiences you'll gain from it couldn't have been achieved any other way.
Lis Brown is a People Leader with more than 25 years experience in the Management Consulting and Technology Industries. She has spent most of her career working around the globe and has truly embraced operating across different cultures and working styles, often being the only woman leader in the room. Lis is a passionate supporter of all aspects of Diversity and more importantly in ensuring inclusive and supportive environments for all. She is known for her strong moral compass and has no fear in speaking out and doing the right thing.