A VIEW FROM THE TOP | Lee Quane, Regional Director - Asia ECA International
by Lisa Cheong
My company has offered me a job overseas. What are some factors I should consider before accepting the job offer?
The first consideration is don’t make an individual decision. If you have commitments in your home location (e.g. family) make sure that you account for these prior to the assignment. For example, if you are married or have a partner, understand the impact that you (and your family if applicable) going on assignment will have on them. This should come first over the fact that you are being offered a manager job
or a director job
Regular research which we undertake shows that both employers and employees often neglect the impact an assignment will have on their family. While an assignment may be a good career move for you, it will also impact your spouse/partner and children. Therefore, discuss the move with your family and weigh up the impact this will have on all of you before coming to a collective decision.
One of the main reasons why assignments fail is due to the inability of the assignee’s family to adjust to life in the assignment location, so a key way to avoid this and the negative impact that it may have on your career is to ensure that everyone making the move understands what is in store and the impact that living in a new environment will have on all concerned. Before relocating, what should I negotiate for in my compensation and benefits package?
The compensation and benefits package offered will depend on various factors such as seniority and reasons for the relocation. For example, if you are applying for a position advertised internally within your company in an office overseas and it is a one-way relocation, don’t expect anything more than the same package that would be offered to a local national in the host country.
On the other hand companies will offer packages which are designed to encourage staff to accept an assignment if staff are senior and their skills are required in the host location. In such a case, the package that the company offers will generally ensure that the employee will, at the very least, be no worse off than he/she would have been if he/she stayed in his/her home location.How can I better prepare myself for my relocation?
From a career perspective, ensure that all parties involved (including you) know what you will deliver during your assignment. Make sure that you know who you will be reporting to during the assignment and ensure that you meet that person prior to it. People often leave roles due to a lash of personalities with their line manager and the implications of this are worse during an international assignment as the termination process is not as easy as simply giving one month’s notice. How can I quickly settle into my host country?
A look and see visit is a good option. We recommend that companies provide assignment candidates with this prior to taking the assignment in order to become familiar with the role in the host location, meet colleagues and also start to plan things such as where to live.
Some companies believe that if an employee has been on a business trip to a potential assignment location, this is sufficient. However, the circumstances that you face on a business trip are very different to those you will face once you reside in a location, so we still suggest that look-see trips are provided even when a candidate for an assignment has been to the host location before. What is the most common thing expatriates often overlook during the relocation process?
As mentioned above, the main factor overlooked is the needs of the entire family unit. After this, it is generally the softer issues that are overlooked: cultural training or cultural acclimatization, for example, is often overlooked. However, researching such matters prior to relocation often means that you adjust quicker to the host location and are more likely to succeed on assignment faster than someone who hasn’t done their research or undergone such training prior to the assignment.