Working abroad is already a popular choice for many people. Indeed, last year 207,000 British people left the country permanently or semi-permanently. So why is working abroad so popular? It presents many significant advantages, especially if you are working in a niche academic subject and are struggling to find work in your home country. With the economy becoming more unstable, working abroad may well become the only option for some who want to work in a specific field. Even a short stint abroad can be beneficial - it can have advantages for your long term career, and it can expand your cultural horizons.
Many academic institutions are realising the potential of opening up campuses abroad, such as Nottingham University's China campus, so the opportunities for academics to work abroad has never been greater. Before you up sticks and become a foreigner, though, here are some vital things to remember to help you on your way.
Making the decision
This is something to weigh up carefully. Fortunately, we have many articles right here on jobs.ac.uk to help you when you face career decisions. Working abroad is a unique issue, though. Can you face leaving behind family and friends? Are you ready to start things again in a new location? If the advantages of working abroad outweigh the disadvantages then go for it! Try to keep yourself motivated for the idea of moving abroad by focussing on the advantages (perhaps a pay increase, more opportunity to advance your career, or the thrills of living in a new country) and make sure your heart is in it.
Finding work abroad
Actually finding work abroad can be challenging. Depending on your field, you might want to check out Neil Harris' International Academics article for some expert advice.
jobs.ac.uk advertises many jobs from overseas institutions so start your search right here! On top of that, try networking. If you have made contacts in foreign places, or if one of your colleagues has contacts abroad, get in touch with them and see if positions are available. Many institutions advertise in specialist magazines and newsletters so sign up to as many of these as possible.
Finding work abroad can pose several challenges. Depending on where you are looking, you may need to get application materials translated (such as references, or even your CV), you may need to supply copies of qualifications and educational records that might not have been expected when applying for jobs in your home country, and you may have to travel to attend an interview. Be prepared to follow up with whatever is necessary when applying for a job abroad. The HR department of the institution to which you are applying should be able to offer some assistance so don't be afraid to ask.
The legal issues
Tied in with finding work abroad is the legal matter of entering a country. For Europeans, emigration for work inside Europe is a relatively simple task. However, moving outside of Europe poses many challenges. Work permits, Visas, and the duration of visits allowed should be checked out well in advance of moving. If you have a job lined up, the company should give you some assistance to ease the process.
Moving to a new country means your whole livelihood is transferred, too. This means taxes, pension schemes, health insurance, and many other things. If this is all included in your employment deal then try to be aware of what is going on - you don't want to be flying back to England to get some aspirin! Some countries also require foreigners to keep their passport on them at all times. Other countries offer a foreigners registration card which requires you to register at the local city hall or other authority.
Moving to a new country to live is a wholly different experience to going there on holiday. Getting used to a new way of life, new people and a new culture takes time and effort. However, by most peoples admission, this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of moving abroad. Try to soak up the experience and learn from it. As well as having a new culture, you will have new places to visit and even possibly a new language to learn.
David, who moved to Japan four years ago, couldn't speak a word of Japanese when he first arrived. Having thrown himself into the cultural experience of the island, he now speaks Japanese fluently. "When I first came to Japan I wasn't sure how things would work out, but having attained some proficiency in the language I can say it is one of the most rewarding aspects of moving to a new country", he says.
Forging a successful career away from home
Moving to a new country can open up career opportunities that you may not have thought of. Try to be aware of the industry climate in the country and look for chances to progress. If your intention when going was only to stay for a short time keep an open mind and see what things come your way. Building up a network in your new location may have advantages for your present career, and could be useful later on.
Moving abroad doesn't mean you are annexed from the people and places you have known before, though. The internet is a perfect catalyst for international communication thanks to Skype, e-mail and instant messengers. Keeping in touch with family and friends will help if you suffer from homesickness, and maintaining links with colleagues and your network in your home country will keep you abreast of whats happening in the industry. Also, if your work abroad isn't as successful as you had hoped, a strong network can help you to find work if you want to return.
So, where are you moving to? Take the time to look around your new locale and enjoy what it has to offer. Make the best of the new experiences at hand, both in and outside of work.