Home Want to Work Overseas? What do You Need to Know to Become an Expat Employee?

Want to Work Overseas? What do You Need to Know to Become an Expat Employee?

Posted by on October 6th, 2016.

Medical employees

There are multiple reasons why you might be tempted to embark on a career overseas.

While concern about being able to find a good job is the stumbling block preventing some from beginning a new life abroad, those that do take the plunge often see their career prospects expand.

For many businesses, incentivising good employees to take their attributes overseas and help support the company’s globalisation is also becoming increasingly important. So whether you’re hoping to work overseas or motivate your employees to take the leap, here are a few things worth thinking about.

Most Popular and Best Paid Jobs for Expats

Quite often, the reason someone is tempted to look abroad for work is that they have skills or aspirations that are in high demand in other nations.

There are certain skills that are in demand throughout the world, such as a proficiency in healthcare, IT and computing and education – with the qualifications to teach English as a foreign language being particularly sought after. However, there are also skills that are more in demand depending on whereabouts you look, and for those willing to work in countries a bit further afield, the pay and rewards can be far higher.

For example, as previously mentioned, English teachers are in particular demand in many places in the world. However, English teachers are perhaps most desired in countries in the Middle-East and in rapidly developing nations. This includes the United Arab Emirates – in Dubai English teaching jobs can go for as much as £3,000 per month including free accommodation.

As some of the higher-paying jobs in general, doctors and medical practitioners are often extremely in-demand in many nations due to shortages in the profession. Countries with the most competitive payment packages in healthcare roles include Australia and European countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Switzerland.

Another of the sectors with the highest demand for expat workers is Information Technology (IT). Computing, communications, programming, and even things like social media management are roles frequently in need of filling by employers the world over. Employers are looking for IT-expert expats even in regions producing their own highly-qualified employees, like Singapore and Switzerland. As such, an IT job in nations like this can command a very competitive wage.

While the three kinds of jobs above draw expat employees in many parts of the world, some sectors are more country specific. Engineering, including things like manufacturing and petroleum engineering, are particularly sought after in Germany, Canada, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. China and Germany are also actively looking for pilots, while financial service professionals are in very high demand in wealthy nations like Switzerland and Singapore.

Most Appealing Relocation Packages for Expats

moving abroad 1

If you’re not thinking of becoming an expat yourself but would like to encourage your employees to migrate to your overseas business destination, how exactly can you convince more hesitant workers to embrace the opportunities associated with helping your business expand?

The most immediately apparent method of making life abroad more appealing would be offering a higher level of pay and some kind of accommodation contract for the potential expat.

But other incentives have also been presented in an article by Recruiter.

According to the article, the most popular conditions older working expats request is a guarantee that they can return home (repatriate) and take up their previous role within the company. This is accompanied by the promise of assistance with the repatriation process. Almost half of those asked in a survey from Ipsos and BDO favoured this condition the most.

Other ways employers can make an overseas work position more appealing is to include an agreement that the worker and their family are entitled to regular (or at least semi-regular) flights home. In some cases it may also be expected that you include family in the accommodation agreement and provide assistance for helping a spouse find work in that country.

To many, these factors (alongside paying for things like test visits and language training beforehand) are considered vital parts of negotiating an expat package for hesitant workers, but some workers might be more eager to work abroad if the overseas assignment itself is better tailored to their situation.

Some of the more effective ways to improve an overseas assignment include giving staff the potential to develop their career or improve their prospects for promotion. Offering initially short-term contracts can also make the prospect less daunting.

Ultimately, this is about the employer making an overseas role sound as appealing as possible. Paid or subsidised accommodation for the whole family, promotion prospects, higher pay, flexible assignment contracts and help with settling in or learning a language can go a long way – and can sometimes be what a company needs to be prepared to provide in order to convince highly valued would-be expats to work overseas.

Most Appealing Locations for Working Expats

Some jobs are particularly popular with expats, and some expat packages are more appealing than others – but these aren’t the only factors that go into an expat’s overseas job decisions.

Work is just one factor of a life abroad, and while some prospective expats will understandably want to make a career-driven move, others may be more inclined to find a nation that offers a generous work-life balance.

For example, did you know that full-time workers in Brazil can have 41 paid vacation days a year, or that the average worker in The Netherlands only words for 27.6 hours per week despite the country’s high quality of life and GDP?

That perfect mix of career propulsion and work-life balance can differ greatly from expat to expat, and those who are flexible when it comes to the destination might find it handy to know which nations offer which kind of work life – or which nations pay the most to expats. This might even change the mind of someone who’s set on a certain location if a more suitable alternative makes itself known to them.

There are various nations that come up again and again when talking about the best countries to work in, ranging from countries known for their wealth to countries that are experiencing great periods of growth.

work life balance

For example, Switzerland is considered to be a rich nation and expats can expect to find lower taxes, cheaper education, good healthcare and a high quality of life – as well as higher pay. However, it can be difficult to find work in Switzerland unless you can promise that you offer skills that are in high demand.

Other examples of nations with a high quality of life and a good work-life balance include New Zealand, Canada and Denmark.

On the other hand, there’s more business-oriented nations like Singapore. While a very work-focused nation, Singapore offers many jobs and new business opportunities with considerable potential for career advancement. Singapore also has the highest number of millionaire citizens of any country in the world and a low crime rate. For all the workaholics out there, Singapore is a great place to consider – but, being one of the world’s centres of finance, it’s an expensive place to live.

For something a little more in the middle, there’s the ever-popular Germany which not only has a good work-life balance and a strong economy, but is very welcoming towards foreign employees – making it a great spot for expats looking for work.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning countries with emerging markets and rapidly growing economies. These nations often highly prioritise attracting foreign workers and as a result the rate of pay and other benefits can be extremely competitive compared to other nations’ offerings.

As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, China, is widely considered to be one of the most appealing nations for those looking for cheaper living but a big paycheck, with one major detractor being the heavily controlled internet access. Though the cost of living is much higher in Hong Kong than the rest of China, this is offset by the comparative ease of finding work and world-renowned public services such as healthcare and transport.

It’s hard to mention rapidly growing economies without bringing up the United Arab Emirates, particularly Dubai. Similarly to China, jobs are often high-paying, particularly for English teachers. Dubai also boasts high job satisfaction and work-life balance – but some expats find life there hard due to its language barrier and strict rules.

Other examples of emerging economies with lower living costs and higher pay include Brazil, India and Thailand, all of which have been increasingly celebrated for the job prospects they offer expats.


Conclusion: A Competitive But Exciting World for Expat Workers

For those with the urge to work abroad, there are an increasingly amount of options and benefits depending on where you look or what you’re after.

While not all countries offer the best pay or the best work-life balance, some offer a solid mix of both. For career expats looking specifically to improve one aspect of their working life, this article has hopefully helped to highlight areas worth considering.

However, with competition in certain areas particularly fierce you need to make sure you’re an attractive candidate for overseas employees. Consider what makes you stand out from the crowd and think about adding to your qualifications (perhaps with foreign language skills) before you go.

As for employers looking to get more workers abroad or attract more expats, this article should illustrate just how competitive some of these expat packages can be when it comes to convincing skilled workers to come your way. There are many ways to make an overseas job more competitive, but they mostly revolve around making the transition and experience as worthwhile for employees as possible.

Ultimately in this age of globalisation, the opportunities are there for those willing to take them. Whether you’re planning to work abroad or help your employees start a career overseas, good luck with your venture!

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