International Women’s Day is all about empowering women and what could be more empowering than following your dreams and achieving the career you want? In recent years the number of enterprising women leaving the shores of the UK to take advantage of international job opportunities abroad has increased significantly.
Expat women are making the most of high demand, better positions and the fact that their skills and qualifications are more desirable.
Going overseas to find work can seem like a bit of a sideways move, but doing so could really open doors for you. That’s the conclusion many career woman have arrived at, according to the latest NatWest International Quality of Life Survey. So, should you join them and work abroad to advance your career?
The Quality of Life Survey shows that the gender gap among British expats is shrinking, now that nearly half (46%) of all expats are women, up 116% from 33% just five years ago. According to the results from the more than 14,000 expats responding to an InterNations survey, nearly 18% of British women living abroad worked in a management position, an increase of 4% on the previous year. It seems that it’s often single women who head abroad to take advantage of international job opportunities.
So, what is it that expat women can offer international employers?
A survey in 2014 found that, when it comes to hiring, overseas employers would prefer highly skilled and flexible women to fill job openings. The three things employers were looking for were excellent networking skills, fluency in a foreign language and strong selling skills.
According to Co-President of the Professional Women’s Network, Dr Ines Wichert, ‘Women are well-suited for international assignments due to their strong interpersonal skills which can make an important difference when a person has to show cultural sensitivity and build relationships with new colleagues and customers once abroad.’
Dr Wichert also states that ‘[international assignments] provide a phenomenal career development opportunity for women.’
We’ve heard what you can do for international companies, but what can international employers offer women expats?
When researching their book, Get Ahead by Going Abroad, authors Stacie Nevadomski Berdan and Perry Yeatman found that the majority of globetrotting women saw significant benefits. Of those questioned, 85% claimed that moving abroad had accelerated their career, 78% had seen a strong rise in their salaries and 95% said it allowed them to develop the necessary skills to become better managers and leaders.
When it comes to choosing where to work abroad, you have plenty of options. According to an InterNations survey, Malta ranks highest among expat women for working overseas, partly thanks to its strong work/life balance. It’s also an easy place for expats to make friends.
Thailand is popular with eight out of ten expat women, who found it easy to settle in the country. Three quarters of survey respondents found it easy to adapt to the local culture, helped by the friendliness of the local population. It ranks particularly well for low cost of living and has great travel opportunities, so there’s no reason you have to stay put once you’ve relocated abroad for work.
In terms of quality of life, Austria is the highest rated country by expat women in the InterNations study. 90% of female respondents are happy with the available leisure options and the quality of the environment, while many are attracted thanks to its highly rated economy.
The tiny country of Luxembourg has big things to offer career women, with a high rating for personal job security and the overall health of the economy. Nearly three-quarters of expat women are content with their current jobs, while the same number claims that moving abroad boosted their career prospects.
Obviously it’s your choice and it depends upon your own personal circumstances. It’s helpful to hear what other expat women have to say on the matter, however.
Over four-fifths (83%) of the women Nevadomski Berdan and Yeatman spoke to would recommend seeking the international job opportunities available for an expat woman. A Global Professionals on the Move survey in 2011 found that every one of the 2,637 expat and aspiring expat women surveyed would recommend working abroad.
ANZ recruitment agency Hydrogen Group Director, Emma Halls, believes that in Australia at least, global experience provides a serious advantage to career women, claiming ‘Women with international experience will see their CVs fast-tracked through to interview in Australia.’
Thousands of women leave the UK shores each year to achieve their goals and advance their careers by working abroad. Are looking to give your career a boost, learn some new skills and have an unforgettable experience? There are many career women out there who would tell you that looking overseas could be the best choice you could make.
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