As we begin a new year, have you been thinking about taking your career abroad? Guess what, it’s not too late to get started. Now is the perfect time to create a plan to follow your dream of becoming an expatriate (expat). I’m here to share seven personal career actions you can start now. We will use the upcoming weeks left in the year to do active planning towards your goal. So, let me help you start right away.
Update your Portfolio. These four critical items must be current: resume, cover letter, references and LinkedIn profile. Update, Update, Update! Add new responsibilities, accomplishments and volunteer opportunities. Did you pick up any new skills, take some courses, get a certification or degree in the past 24 months? Add them. Highlight any digital or technology skills you’ve newly acquired. Remember, all your skills, talents and expertise make you an asset in other countries also.
As travel options expand globally, take this time to explore. It is not too late to consider a scouting trip to a country or region you want to move to. Yes, I know that travel is a bit tedious at the moment with lots of restrictions. However, if you’re willing to navigate them, then take the opportunity to visit a country for a week or two. Checking out the vibes in a potential new home location is a wise decision. Browse your favorite online airline or travel sites for flight sales and opportunities to visit places you’re interested in living.
If you are unsure about what you want to do, where you want to go, or your specific purpose for moving abroad, consider hiring an expat coach. Take the opportunity to work with someone knowledgeable about your career field, life abroad and who will help you create a manageable plan for your goal. An Expat Coach can help you navigate all the preparation and planning steps for a job search, expat resources and insights into your transition into another country. Expat coaching is one of the smartest investments you can make at the end of the year, to have your dream come true.
If moving abroad is really what you want, then I suggest that you create a plan to declutter. Take this time to go through your living space, clothes closet, desk, drawers, garage, and clean them out. The more downsizing you do now, the less arduous your moving process. You will be able to pack, ship or store the belongings that are most important to you or your family. As part of the decluttering process, you can sell and add the funds to your moving fund, and you can donate to local charitable organizations. As you decide to leave, giving to others can be rewarding, so donate some items to people in need or charity.
This is a great time to start perusing the job search platforms; looking online to see available jobs will also get you excited about your potential move. It never hurts to begin bookmarking organizations, jobs, or countries of interest based on your career. It is also okay to review opportunities that are not an exact fit, because it provides you with perspective. Knowing what is available in your potential location is knowledge building. Don’t forget to also tap into your network at home or abroad giving them a heads-up that you are looking for opportunities. You may be surprised that someone you are connected to could know or have an opening in your sphere of influence. These activities will reinforce your interest and willingness to move abroad. Get motivated by looking at job prospects.
A more serious consideration is organizing and putting your personal documents and affairs for your life in order. Yes, I know this sounds a bit morbid, but we have learned a lot in the past year of unexpected events, and it is best to have these matters well planned. In such circumstances, a loved one can concisely access this information. Make it easy for them to manage your affairs during challenging times in case of a medical emergency, emergency repatriation, or if you have departed this earth. Set up things like a living will, power of attorney, or a trust that will protect you abroad while you are still in your home country. Remember to appoint someone who is trustworthy, and has your best interest at heart, to manage this delicate matter if the need should arise.
Create accessibility to home from abroad in advance. Consider things like setting up a bank account that can be easily used abroad with no remittance fee or foreign transaction charges. Establish appropriate levels of life, travel and health insurance, in addition to what your foreign employer might provide you. Explore and research whether you will sell or rent your house, and how you will store your keepsakes.
As a bonus, if you are seeking to live abroad as a remote worker, this is the time to explore that option. Research if such an option is feasible. Starting the process of becoming a remote worker is a perfect thing to do at beginning of a new year or fiscal cycle. Employers are typically looking for new ways or avenues to engage their employees or find ways to motivate them in for the new year or business cycle. It could also be the way your employer shows appreciation and trust in you, given your stellar performance in the current year under the current health circumstances. Another option is to look internally for international positions in your company, or check if your company has an exchange or transfer option/process for your position or a promotion abroad.
Lastly, if you are seriously looking to take your career abroad this year – here’s your chance to start the preparation and planning. The new year tends to bring ends to bring new energy and excitement to life for most of us. While you are motivated, let’s have you prepared to capture every opportunity or job posting that may arrive in the upcoming two to three months. Your expat journey awaits!