How Working Abroad Can Work for You

A few days ago I wrote Top 5 Excuses Against Moving Abroad, starting with…

Excuse #1. Work

Number one excuse is “I have a job.” People actually ask “How could I leave my career?”
To this excuse, I say you aren’t hurting your career, you’re helping it!

[quoted text shorted, but you can visit the original here]

Today, I want to expand on that first excuse: Work.

Okay, on with how working abroad can work for you.

Let me ask you a question, speaking “corporate-ese.”
Do you want to advance your career organically or would you like it to advance aggressively through acquisitions?

Organic Growth or Through Acquisitions?

You hear corporate management bark out “Our company will continue to grow through acquisitions.” Why?

Acquisitions give rapid growth and provide synergy (increased performance, decreased costs = best of all worlds). Acquisitions also enable a company to eliminate or dominate its competition. Sure, it comes with risks, but to win, you need those risks.

Do it organically is the opposite: progressing naturally. Hoping that over time (long periods of time), a career just progresses…naturally. Uh, good luck with that.

Are you advancing your career organically? Letting time pass, year over year, shooting for annual reviews with “Exceeds Objectives,” hoping for that 3% salary raise (in good times)?

Back to You and Your “Acquisition”

Or are you prepared to take an aggressive path, through career acquisitions of expat experience?

Look at the benefits when you “acquire” some expat experience:

  • Rapid growth

  • Increased performance (quality, experience)

  • Decreased costs (time, doubts)

  • Eliminate or dominate competition
  • The Straight Up List of Expat Employee Qualities

    As I mentioned in a prior post, when you work abroad, you become a more valued asset. Let me expand on that.
    You are instantly more desirable from several angles and added qualities:

  • cultural sensitivity

  • ability to adapt

  • demonstrated perseverance

  • challenging yourself

  • diverse team experience

  • strong sense of identity and assertiveness

  • advanced nonverbal communication and 2nd language skills

  • The list goes on and on… Yes, management sees international experience as a major plus indeed. For a senior management position, international experience is a door-opener by itself.

    Of course, these desirable, international qualities work both ways: not just when you return, but when you first acquire your overseas job.

    Returning from an international experience will bring you a higher salary, more senior position and higher sense of trust from your seniors.

    Advancing your career also provides diversification and sharpens your focus. By the way, those are 2 more reasons often quoted for mergers and acquisitions.

    Just imagine starting your elevator speech (you do have one, right?) with “The experience I gained in London showed me…

    Bottom line: Companies often advance via acquisitions…isn’t it time you took a similar path?

    Published by


    An American who likes to move around. I now live on the eastern Canadian seaboard. My job? A stay-at-home dad for two cute but demanding bosses. My wife? Also cute; not so demanding. My wife and I both love travel. We met in South Korea, travelled across Australia, India, Europe and beyond. We lived in Czech Republic for four years. Many stories to tell and experience to share. If you let me, I will help you travel as we do. Enjoy.

    23 thoughts on “How Working Abroad Can Work for You”

    1. You hit the nail on the head Jeff. Moving abroad is a great way to put a career and life into perspective. A lot of times moving abroad means a change in career altogether. I like your move from the rat race to the stay at home dad, I am sure you enjoy your new life a lot more. Keep posting!

      1. Thanks John! πŸ™‚

        I’m lovin’ the dad job. It’s a far longer day than my old 9-5, but tons more rewarding. Plus, I’ve finally got a boss who’s shorter than I am. (Make that, two li’l bosses, in fact)

    2. Hi Jeff,

      Great post! As the world becomes more and more global, being able to work with many cultures is a very important experience. As much as we like to think our home societies are multi-cultural they are still at best a blend of cultures. For example, in Canada you have many different ethnicities but in business you work with them as though they are Canadian. Likewise in the US. When you actually take yourself out of that society and try to integrate with a new culture it really opens you up to the differences: language, culture, history, business.

      I know I’ve learned a lot working in many countries, outsourcing both to India and to Canada, and bridging the work habits of North Americans and Europeans. Some day I’ll post something about this experience on CheeseWeb. Until then, keep up the great posts πŸ™‚

      Andrew C

      1. Thanks Andrew. Seriously, you have a TON of experience to share about working abroad and, as you added, outsourcing. I’m sure Alison must push you to contribute. I’ll speak on behalf of many out there – Please, write it down! Take a half hour a day, get it done. Doesn’t have to be perfect or even pretty.
        What is second nature to you would be a huge value-add to many.

        Waiting and cheering you on,

    3. As a new expat I couldn’t agree more. The rapid growth will definitely happen. I also found that I am being given additional responsibility and scope far more quickly than I ever was in my US job.

      I’ve been in Manila for a month now. I’m already leading a major project that has high upper management visibility. That never happened in 11 years at my previous job. So far it’s been a wild ride, but all in all it’s good. More on my blog if you’re interested.

      1. Mike!

        It’s great to hear from you again!! I’ve wondered what became of you since earlier this Spring.

        So – you did it. You moved to Manila. That’s great, Mike. Congrats. πŸ™‚
        Your wife’s happy as well, I’m sure.

        And I’m glad to hear the move has helped your career.

        So cool to hear. Congrats again,

      1. Hi Jeff,

        Thanks for this article, as well as “IT Certifications Around the World β€” Differences in Numbers and Popularity.” What are your thoughts on the AICPA’s CITP credential?



        1. Hi Chris,

          Until today, I wasn’t familiar with AICPA or their range of credentials. (But not a surprise since I’m not an accountant.)
          For others out there, AICPA is an accountancy-centric body. AICPA offers several certification programs geared toward certified public accountants and financial planners.
          And, like Chris mentioned, the AICPA offers a “Certified IT Professional” credential.

          I read through their FAQ, their certification standards & requirements, scoured some forums and did some research on global (US) numbers.
          I came to a few conclusions:
          1. Unless you run in accountancy & financial planning circles, you likely don’t know about the AICPA. And that’s fine.
          2. If you’re outside the US (accountant or not), it’s very likely you don’t know about the AICPA nor this certification. And that’s not fine in the context of this article.

          Sorry Chris, but I think this cert is near worthless on a CV. I think the AICPA is incredibly valuable to accountants in the US, but not so outside it. I may be wrong, and I welcome someone to correct me.

          My final point:
          Just the name “American Institute of Certified Public Accountants” rings of US hegemony to a Chartered Accountant in the UK, right? So, imagine how far the CITP would get you in Barcelona?


    4. Hi Jeff! Sounds exciting to be at home with your kids. How rewarding! Quick question: how do I go about finding out which countries can benefit from my skills? I don’t even know how to go about finding a country that will allow me to move for their for work, let alone one that on is conducive to my skills. I have a master’s in counseling and all but dissertation for my Ph.D. in Education and Counseling Psychology (its like a higher education administration degree). I worked for universities for the past 10 or so years. Any advise?

      1. Forgot to leave my name. Its Kia. Sorry I don’t know how to upload a picture so you can see who you’re talking to. πŸ™

    5. Hi Jeff,

      Work, for me, is the number 1 reason I am having trouble committing to moving abroad for a year. However, I most likely will not have an opportunity for a transfer and may not find a job in the planned country (at least not anywhere near my current salary). That being said, I have financial support and know the experience will develop me as a person. However, I would like your advice on whether this will hurt my career upon returning to the US in a year in the event I am not able to find a comparable job for the entirety of my experience abroad.


      1. Thanks Lauren for commenting.
        Your concern “…whether this will hurt my career upon returning…” – Great Question!
        If you want to know what I think, I 100% believe that any experience abroad is helpful, not hurtful. If your experience is somewhat related or can be related to your career, than it will be extremely helpful.
        Now, that’s said without knowing your career. If you have surgery expertise and you pick up work as an English teacher, then no, it’s not helpful at all. Of course, some career paths cannot tolerate any break in continuity. But for 99% of us, the experience of living abroad shows great personal growth and other benefits. And those far outweigh even a year or two break in our chosen career.

        Sort of relevant, let me point you to a guest article I wrote for IT Business Edge. I’m hoping you might like it more than most.

        Wishing you the best,

    Comments are closed.