The “Must Haves” of a Country to Country Job Search (even if your target is home)

Three years ago, I was approached by a member of my advisory board who wanted me to manage his friend’s job search in the U.S. His friend was an expatriate CEO who had worked in Europe for almost two decades. “Dan wants his kids to know their grandparents and their home country before they graduate from high school, but he doesn’t know the first thing about searching for a senior position in the U.S.” I knew Dan’s job search was going to be difficult, but I was concerned that it may prove impossible. I agreed to a 6:00 AM call between Dan and I.

Dan turned out to be talented and persuasive. That first conversation was the beginning of a very intense and successful six month job search.

I could relate to Dan’s personal reasons for wanting to make a move. His company was happy for him to stay put. Dan had been out of the U.S. for so long that they could not imagine him as a U.S. CEO. His Chairman had become complacent about Dan’s career, assuming no other company would want him in the U.S. either. While the Chairman knew Dan was a U.S. citizen, he never thought of him as an expatriate; his present company was not the company that expatriated him.

Over the course of Dan’s job search and other country to country job searches, we have learned a great deal about what it takes to land in your targeted country. If this type of move is more than a “pipe dream” for you, don’t start your job search until you are fully prepared for the challenge. False starts undermine your credibility and your odds of success. Before you get started, you should determine your readiness, by asking yourself the following questions:

Do you have the strategy, attributes, support and tools to succeed?

1) Do you have a clear, concise and compelling reason to make the move?

2) Will you be satisfied targeting one country or region? Focus is critical for a successful market response.

3) Is your family committed to the move? Their resolve will be tested by potential employers or their agents.

4) Are you and your family prepared for some disruption during your 24 hour day? The level of disruption relates to the time difference between your present and targeted country.

5) Are you willing to put your aspirational career goals on hold? A country or region change will be risky enough for your potential employer.

6) Do you have a private and appropriate office for landline, cell and Skype calls (not your day job office)?

7) Are you prepared to spend your spare time in front of web cams and on social media sites?

8) Are you willing to fund some trips to your chosen country? It is critical to get in front of important contacts to level the playing field with local candidates.

9)  Do you have the time to get up to speed on your target market, country and culture? Desk research and experiential trips are necessary, especially  if you are not traveling regularly or doing business in your target country.

10) Have you established a local network and strong referrals within your present country? In the end, it is a small world.

Is it Worth All the Trouble?

This type of job search requires self-confidence, energy, a burning desire, and sheer perseverance. If you are questioning whether it is worth the trouble, you may not have the compelling reason and desire necessary to succeed.

A self-driven repatriation or country to country move can be emotionally satisfying, empowering, and professionally rewarding. While assimilation into a new business culture also takes time and effort (even if you are going home), those that executed a country to country move successfully have been very happy with their decision. A Marketing Services CEO who returned to the U.S. from Asia said, “It is a great relief to be in the U.S. I no longer feel like an outsider.” A Technology COO from England said, “My wife has always wanted to be near her family. I have given her that opportunity.” A Media CTO said, “The U.S. is at the forefront of my industry. The exposure and visibility will eventually accelerate my career back home .” A Chemicals CEO said, “By the time my eldest started 9th grade, he had attended four schools in four countries. Now, he will be able to start and finish at the same high school.” A Real Estate and Construction President and General Manager said, “Now that I am back in the U.S., I no longer have to second guess the business culture-getting results is much less complicated.” And finally, from a Consumer Products CMO, “The time I spent overseas was more than enough, I will visit often, but I will never make another move that doesn’t benefit me and my family.”


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