Things to consider before launching a career abroad

Adriene Hill Sep 9, 2011

Things to consider before launching a career abroad

Adriene Hill Sep 9, 2011

Bob Moon: When President Obama unveiled his $447 billion jobs package of stimulus spending and tax cuts this week, much of his focus was on making American workers competitive with the rest of the world.

Barack Obama: We now live in a world where technology has made it possible for companies to take their business anywhere. If we want them to start here and stay here and hire here, we have to be able to out-build and out-educate and out-innovate every other country on earth.

If we’re buying Kias and Hyundais, Mr. Obama said, we need to be selling Fords and Chevys and Chryslers to the rest of the world.

Obama: I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with the three proud words: “Made in America.” That’s what we need to get done.

Of course, one of our biggest exports in recent years has been jobs. And now, it seems, more American workers are even exporting themselves. As Marketplace’s Adriene Hill reports, that’s not as easy as it may sound.

Adriene Hill: Consider this story a flow chart/quiz kind of thing to see if you should look for your next job abroad. Ready? Let’s begin. Please pull out a sheet of paper and a pencil. The first question: What field do you work in? Take a moment to write your answer down.

Got it? If you wrote…

Stacie Berdan: Energy, health care, pharmaceuticals, engineering, infrastructure, telecommunications, education, academia…

You’re in luck. Stacie Berdan is the author of the forthcoming book “Go Global: Launching an International Career Here or Abroad.”

Berdan: There is tremendous opportunity in some of these other markets for high growth that need well-educated people with experience to actually live and work to grow another part of the economy in another part of the world.

Which leads us to question two: Where do you want to move? Now be careful with this one.

Melanie Holmes: In many countries, particularly countries Americans would gravitate towards, unemployment is high there as well.

Melanie Holmes is a VP at Manpower International. She says in many parts of Europe, the unemployment situation is as bad or worse than it is here.

Holmes: Americans might be jumping out of the frying pan and into a fire by trying to find work overseas.

But if you wrote down China, India, Brazil, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates — Hahzah! You could be well on your way to becoming an employed expat! Countries with fast-growing economies are anxious for smart Americans.

Now question three: Are you patient?

Gregory Hubbs: It’s several months of work.

Gregory Hubbs is the editor-in-chief of He says getting an international job and getting all the paper work figured out…

Hubbs: It’s not something that can be done in a couple of weeks, no.

You need to find a country and a company that needs your skill sets and jump the bureaucratic hurdles.

Hubbs: A vast number of countries require extensive work permits and visa documentation, which can prove challenging and time consuming, so you have to be patient but determined.

One ex-pat I talked to in Brazil said it took him a year to get a visa.

But this quiz isn’t meant to scare anyone out of looking for a job abroad; it’s plenty doable.

Melinda Finley: I’m Melinda Finley, and I’m an ultrasound technician.

Steve Finley: OK, and I’m Steve Finley. I’m a business analyst.

Melinda and Steve used to live in northeastern Vermont. They left because Steve couldn’t find work.

Melinda: We tried several times. He couldn’t get a job, so we started exploring different cities that would work for us and ended up in Calgary honestly.

Yes, Canada counts as abroad. They say the move to Canada has paid off. Melinda likes her job, she gets good career training, works on new equipment. Steve’s got good, steady work too.

Melinda: We probably won’t come back, we don’t think. At least it’s not in our current plans right now. We might need to move somewhere slightly warmer in Canada because Calgary is a bit freezing in the winter, but we don’t think we’ll ever come back to the States. We don’t have a good reason to, really.

And their advice for those considering the career jump abroad: Do the research, hire experts to help you stay on the right side of the law, and embrace your new home.

Write that down.

I’m Adriene Hill for Marketplace Money.

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