Although it might seem daunting, working overseas is one of the most effective challenges you can undertake to boost your employability. Whether you work during a gap year, find a placement during the holidays or bag a post-grad job abroad, the experiences you will gain will add some serious weight to your CV and help you stand out from the crowd.
According to the 2014 Erasmus Impact Study, unemployment rates are 23% lower for graduates who have worked overseas. In addition, they are 9% more likely to hold managerial positions than their stay-at-home counterparts. From these figures it is clear to see the positive impact working away can have on your career.
Let’s take a look at exactly why employers favour candidates with international experience…
Adaptability and problem solving skills
Moving to another country poses numerous challenges; the simplest of everyday tasks takes an extra dose of initiative, quick-thinking and stoicism than it might at home. People who have relocated overseas, settling into a community and holding down a job in an unfamiliar environment show potential employers their ability to adapt and overcome challenges.
This is enhanced if you are also able to learn another language. Katie Bateman, a careers advisor at the University of Gloucestershire, says it can set you apart from a crowd of other applicants. “Graduates can learn another language and prove just how adaptable they are by embracing change and learning to adjust to a different culture.”
Independence and resourcefulness
Such an ability to adapt and acclimatise to new surroundings also indicates to a potential employer that a candidate is independent and resourceful; both key traits if you want to be successful in business.
“The confidence and self-awareness students gain from putting down roots somewhere new, is an asset for any business,” explains Claire Powers, a recruiter from global knowledge broker AlphaSights.
Cultural awareness and communication skills
The modern workplace is becoming increasingly globalised, so awareness of cultural differences is vital in many roles. Working abroad (particularly if you have good references) demonstrates an ability to work effectively with people from different backgrounds; a trait which will be very attractive to lots of employers. Take Linklaters as an example; the multinational law firm looks specifically to “recruit people with a global outlook”, because, they suggest, spending time abroad “can help develop the cultural awareness required to meet clients’ needs effectively”.
In addition to boosting your employability, working overseas is also a cost-effective way of travelling and taking in other cultures. It will broaden your horizons, provide you with the opportunity of meeting friends you otherwise wouldn’t, and help build skills that will be valuable throughout your career; even if the job you take isn’t directly related to the industry you want to break into.