Is Working Abroad a Bad Idea for Your Career?

Career Money Life certified supplier, Helen Baker of On Your Own Two Feet shares her insights on how working abroad can impact your career.

According to one career expert, working abroad is actually terrible for your career.

Author and businesswoman Penelope Trunk has written a column claiming that spending time overseas makes an employee look indecisive, and adds little value.

“It’s an announcement that you had no idea what to do with yourself,” Trunk argues in the column. If you are excited about your life, you do your life. If you are not excited about your life, you travel to get away from it.”

Trunk adds that in today’s increasingly globalized world, travel is simply unnecessary. “The assumption that travel is intrinsically useful assumes we live in a world with no internet. The more our national differences diminish, driven by a cross-national internet experience, the less valuable travel becomes,” she writes.

She also claims most people simply don’t have time to travel, pointing to research by the University of Edinburgh that suggests people who fulfill career goals before age 27 are happier throughout their adult life.

“If you had success by 27, you worry less about your long-term prospects because you feel like you can replicate that success throughout your career,” Trunk says.

“[And] in order to have a stable career with a network you can rely on, you need to be in one country, one culture, learning to navigate the power brokers of that culture.”

On the other hand…(What other experts say)

When researching their book Get Ahead by Going Abroad, Stacie Nevadomski Berdan and Perry Yeatman talked to women who’d travelled and assessed how it had impacted their career upon return. They found that 85 percent of these women said going overseas accelerated their career, while 78 percent said travel had a significant impact on compensation—and 95 percent said travel had made them better leaders and managers.

The survey respondents also overwhelmingly said (83 percent of them) they’d advise other women to go abroad to advance their careers.

Berdan and Yeatman’s book makes a powerful case for travel as a way to “fast-track your career, broaden your professional capabilities, increase your pay and expand your personal horizons beyond your wildest dreams.”

But don’t just take their word for it. Other career experts I consulted also disagreed with Trunk’s claim that working abroad is a time-waster.

“If it’s pitched well, international experience can actually make a person more appealing to potential employers and can be an advantage for their career.” Dr. Sam Collins, CEO of Aspire career and life coaching, tells me.

How to make it work

So don’t let your future employers think that six-month stint in Vietnam was just about partying or lying on a beach. If you actually did something to advance your career there—such as completing a secondment, starting a new blog, or volunteering on a project directly related to your career—make a point of playing that up on your resume.

Financial adviser Helen Baker, who founded advisory firm On Your Own Two Feet, says she actually encourages clients to travel if it’s something they want to do. She believes there are wonderful career prospects to be had overseas—and has personal experience backing up that claim.

“I personally up and left to do a two year stint overseas, and came back eight years later,” she tells me. “I had the best career over there, aside from my own business now.”

While Baker admits there are financial drawbacks to spending time abroad—such as managing a mortgage in your home country from afar, and tackling different tax systems and retirement schemes—she insists these difficulties can be headed off with some good planning.

“If you are working [overseas], you still have the ability to improve your financial position,” she says.

“It’s about having the right plan in place [to] cover all your bases back home. Ensure you have all the right insurances in place. Manage your money well. Take advantage of traveling when it is associated with business to reduce costs, and try to put some money aside for savings so you come back with money to start your new life again back home.”

Baker recommends separating out your living expenses, your holiday fund, your emergency fund and your future fund so you can see what is for what. The thing is to make sure it’s clear, and you don’t end up dipping into one or the other.

As long as you have those basic elements of planning covered, spending time abroad is likely well worth the experience.

As Baker puts it: “With some good financial management you can come back not only richer in experiences and new friends, but also financially.”

View the original article here.

Helen Baker, is part of the Career Money Life community of certified suppliers that can help you take your career overseas or up the corporate ladder where you are now.

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