Warning: Permanently leaving SA for work could really suck

If you were given an opportunity to work abroad, would you take it? (Stocksnap.io)

Packing up your suitcases to relocate to a different country sounds like fun at face value. But have you given careful consideration to the downside of working abroad?

If you’re browsing jobs abroad, you’re probably evaluating each company’s corporate culture, the job description and compensation package. You’re probably also looking at the prospective company’s logistics: where the job is located and how to travel to and from work.  

Many professionals find that working abroad is appealing. The exchange rate makes for a good salary, plus there’s the obvious advantage of living in an amazing city. But relocating for work also has its downsides too. We’ve scoured the web to find the good and bad of working abroad:

The Good

A global network of contacts

As the world becomes more interconnected, working abroad will provide you with opportunities to build relationships with people in your industry on an international level.  Plus, should you decide to leave, you’ll be able to nurture the connections you made from afar, and even use them for your next job search.

A better chance at securing high-level positions

We all know that with a competitive job market, climbing the corporate ladder is tough. But if you know your field and research the opportunities available in your field, you’ll open yourself up to a greater chance of landing a big role and taking on more responsibility in another country.

Learning to be adaptable

Each country lives by a different set of values and customs in the workplace, and starting out in a different country will mean having to adapt very quickly.  For instance, in the United Arab Emirates, using your left hand for anything other than bodily hygiene, is considered an insult. Should you work in the United Kingdom, you’ll have to understand that when clients and the big boss tap their nose, it means that something is highly confidential.

The Bad

Making new friends is difficult

In your home country, having a group of friends is relatively easy. They are usually people you’ve grown up with, participated in the same activities with or people you met through another friend. The chance of having to going out and search for new people to call your friends is probably foreign.

In a foreign country, meeting people in a new city will mean taking a whole new approach to making friends. If you’re lucky enough, your colleagues will become friends. If not, then making friends will be trickier.

It won’t be about you

In a country where the culture is different to your own, you’ll have to learn early on that the systems in place are not necessarily there to accommodate you. From the office environment to the year-end functions, there will be customs that will not be relevant to you as a foreigner with a different experience.

While taking a job abroad offers many opportunities for your professional and personal growth, it can present a number of issues that may make the whole experience less than appealing. To avoid making decisions you may regret once you’re on the other side, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will relocating give me better opportunities than my current situation?
  • Will I love my job?
  • Will the job be one in which I see myself learning and growing my career?
  • Is the company culture a good fit for me and my needs?
  • What does the future of the company and position look like?
  • What is the cost of living in that city?
  • Will I be able to afford to live in the city and still save some money?
  • Do I adapt well to change?
  • What’s my backup plan if things do not work out?
  • Of course, there’s much more you need to evaluate. But if the answer to many of these questions is negative, perhaps it’s a sign to find better local (and perhaps some international) job prospects with Careers24.