Your boss just offered you an overseas work opportunity! You know that it could be the assignment that makes your career – and it’s sure to be an adventure. Should you jump at the chance? Before you do, take a long, hard look at the practical side of things. Do your research. Sleep on it. While you might feel flattered to have received the offer, you do want to be certain that you’re facing a real opportunity, and you might want to try negotiating a thing or two before you accept.
1. How Will Working Abroad Affect Your Health Insurance?
The average US-based health insurance policy won’t apply in other countries. Will your employer provide health insurance for your sojourn overseas, or will that be your responsibility? IMG health insurance keeps you covered for overseas business travel and for extended stays in other countries. But if you have to pay for it yourself while maintaining your payments for local health insurance, it could mean that your take-home pay is actually less than it appears to be. Will it be worth it?
2. How Much HQ Support Can You Expect?
“Out of sight, out of mind,” is definitely not an adage you want to see applied to your work as an overseas agent for your company. Ask questions. What level of support can you expect from HQ? What will you be expected to cope with on your own? Is there a budget you can draw on for essentials while you’re overseas? While you may be ready for just about anything, being ready to wreck your personal finances for the sake of an overseas opportunity at which you may or may not succeed isn’t really on the cards. In essence, you should do the work while your employers accept any financial risks you might incur. Make sure that both of you understand the nature of the deal.
3. Will There be People to Help You Adjust?
Just as you’ll need HQ support while you’re representing your company on the other end of the globe, you’ll also benefit from a ready-made local support system. Ask your employers whether there are local contacts you can rely on for basics – like asking where’s best to do shopping, or helping you to find accommodation.
Being a stranger in a strange land can be fun – but only if there’s someone to turn to when the going gets tough. Find out whether there are local contacts you can approach for help and advice. Failing that, you might get lucky with expat communities, but you’ll need to reach out to know what kind of support they’re willing to offer. Again, it’s a matter you’ll have to think through before accepting any overseas work assignments.
4. Is Your Overseas Tenure Meant to be Temporary or Permanent?
Understanding what your employers expect from your overseas posting is a must. Apart from knowing what you’re meant to achieve while you are based outside the US, knowing how long you’re expected to stay outside the country is a must. Will your employer see you as a failure if you decide you need to return after a year or two? Even if you’re open to a permanent overseas posting, knowing what the consequences will be if you back out after going overseas to work is important. Life happens. You may be needed back home. If that’s going to hurt your career prospects, you might prefer to decline the offer before you begin.
5. Can You Put Your Personal Life on Hold?
While accepting an overseas posting can be a form of goal-fulfilment in itself, you need to consider the things you’ll be leaving behind and whether they can wait. Will your loved ones be willing to accept that you’ll be away for what may be anything from a few months to a few years? Are there important life events you may miss out on if you’re overseas? Do you have responsibilities like kids or pets and how will your overseas or out-of-state work affect them? Will your family have to make sacrifices to join you overseas? You may want to have an earnest discussion with those closest to you before accepting or rejecting the offer.
6. Can You Meet Your Employer’s Expectations?
You’ve been chosen to relocate because your bosses think you can help the business achieve its goals in another country or state. But, what, exactly, do they expect you to achieve? Are you as confident as they are about your success? What will happen if you don’t deliver to expectation? It’s not that you’re aiming to underachieve, but you certainly don’t want to commit to something you aren’t sure you can do. You’d love to return to home base hailed as a hero, but a lot of things can go wrong and you might end up returning as an outsider who “didn’t deliver.” How would this affect your future career prospects?
If you’re looking for a bottom line here, it can be summed up as thinking things true before accepting an overseas work offer. It may affect more people than just you, and even if you’re answerable only to yourself, an overseas posting may or may not benefit your career. Never rush in! Some things are worth thinking through, and this is one of them.