Passport to promotion? Working abroad can lift your finance career

By Robert Half on 6 July 2015

Accepting a position abroad might be the right move to give your career a boost.

Being a talented, hardworking professional is not always enough when it comes to securing a new finance job or your next promotion. The reality is, however skilled and experienced you are – and ready to take the next step on the career ladder – there are sometimes others who are slightly ahead in the race.

But what if you’re not prepared to sit back and wait for your natural turn to progress? Are there any ways you can jump the queue, or improve your chances of success when you apply for an external opportunity? Working overseas can be an option in this case for your finance career.

Benefits of working abroad with a finance career

In an increasingly globalised world of business – where trade and commerce takes place 24/7 around the world – employers are looking for culturally-sensitive individuals, with linguistic skills and experience that’s earned from working in different jurisdictions.

Companies operating in global markets need people who understand different working customs, cultures and ways of doing business. And when given the choice between two credible job candidates – both of whom are equally talented and look like a good fit for the organisation – employers will often choose the one who has experience working abroad.

Working overseas can help professionals advance their careers in a number of ways. It helps develop cross-cultural understanding and other perceived benefits, which include communication and linguistic ability, global market understanding, specific product knowledge, improved work ethic, job satisfaction, technical expertise and international accounting, regulatory and/or banking standards.

Are professionals taking advantage?

Employers recognise the benefits of overseas working experience and clearly value globally minded finance professionals who have spent time on secondment in another country. But despite the advantage it can give jobseekers – and those seeking rapid promotion – relatively few people are taking advantage of the opportunity.

As it stands, due to the relatively small number of people who have foreign experience on their CV, this additional aspect can be highly valuable from a finance career perspective.

Securing a placement abroad

So what can you do to land an international assignment? The first and most obvious step is to work for a global organisation. If your employer has a base in the major finance centres, relocating employees is likely to be fairly fluid.

Developing global networks is another top tip. Establishing contact with international professional associations can help build your network, which can increase your knowledge of other jurisdictions and global business issues.

Keeping in touch with recruitment agencies can also prove beneficial, as they may be asked by a client to identify suitable candidates for overseas work. If you have built and maintained a relationship with a local agency, they may come to you first when an exciting opportunity arises.

In summary

The rapid pace of globalisation and adoption of global regulatory and banking standards are driving demand for professionals with global business experience. Yet despite the value of international know-how, relatively few professionals are able to list overseas placements on their CV.

So if you’ve spent time overseas with your financial career, you’re likely to have a head start on other candidates for a new job or promotion. You still need to make sure your skill set is up to date, but ultimately, international experience can make all the difference.

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