Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Understanding and Overcoming the Challenges of Pursuing an Expat Career

by Megan Fitzgerald

It’s important to understand the challenges you will face if you decide to pursue an expat career. I always recommend making a list of these obstacles so you can develop a plan to address them. This will set you up for success as you start your search for jobs overseas.

Those who have been considering work abroad for some time are likely aware of many of these challenges. However I’ve found that many people are not aware of all of the solutions available to overcome these obstacles and realize their dream of living and working abroad.

For this reason I’ve shared possible solutions to the some of the most common challenges:

Language skills

The problem: Not speaking the language of the country you want to work in will limit the job opportunities available to you – particularly countries where your mother tongue is not spoken at all.

If you are an English speaker, as it is the language of business, you will have more opportunities than those who speak other languages. Many jobs require not just an ability to speak, but fluency, which can be hard to achieve when not using the language regularly.

Possible solutions:
Find and target countries who speak your language. You’d be surprised how many there are. There are over 50 countries who have English as an official language, over 30 countries where French is an official language and over 20 where Spanish is spoken.

Learning a language as part of your career or business development plan is also an option. Finding opportunities to immerse yourself in the language through study courses abroad or even several weeks of holiday would be important. This would help you both learn and assess your ability to actually operate in that language in your target country.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

Work Permits

The problem: Most of the time you are required to get a work permit or visa in your target country to secure a job abroad. This most often requires a job offer and the company facilitating the process.

Depending on a country’s immigration policies, there may also be limits to the amount of visas issued each year. If that number is relatively small then you are likely competing with the top talent globally for those visa slots.

If you are an accompanying spouse...

Article continues here

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holidays and House Guests

by Piglet in Portugal

I was recently asked by a friend living in the UK: "Do expats still take holidays and if so where?" What a strange question and one I’d never considered!

So what's the deal with expats and holidays? Do you return to your homeland to visit family and friends, explore your new country or are you still tempted to travel to foreign shores?

Some expats, having fulfilled their dream of moving abroad, may prefer to "holiday at home" - a perfect opportunity to explore their new country. For instance, Portugal has so many places to explore, from its outstanding beaches and cruises along the Douro River to city breaks in Lisbon and Porto. Not forgetting the numerous historic towns and villages such as Tavira, Obidos, Tomar and Evora, just waiting to be explored. That's before you take into consideration the multitude of other styles of holiday on offer, like wine tours and activity holidays such as surfing, kite-surfing, horse riding and bird watching, to name but a few. Phew! I ask you, why be tempted to holiday elsewhere?"

However, if you've already "discovered" your new country, does the desire to holiday in a foreign land still beckon?

Many years ago, when choosing a holiday destination, we would spend ages studying glossy travel brochures, deliberating over which country to visit, and even longer deciding on the most suitable area before deciding on what hotel to stay at. However, I no longer yearn to travel due to family ties - the arrival of our first grandchild, who lives in France, closely followed by our second grandchild, who lives in England, means we now take frequent “holidays” to both countries. Decision made! No more glossy brochures, and the “dream” tour of Canada and Alaska remains a dream unless winning the Euro Millions Lottery makes it a reality!

Sadly, as many expat retirees have seen their pensions and income diminish over the last few years, and workers on a low income battle to juggle their finances, holiday budgets may only stretch to visiting family or friends back home. So the question of where to go does not arise. But what if you have no family ties or budget restrictions, where would you choose to holiday? Has becoming an expat really changed the way you view holidays?

On the other side of the coin when family and friends visit you do you consider this to be a holiday?

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Americans, You’ve Been Warned!

by Expat Focus columnist, Toni Hargis

If you’ve read my book, you’ll know that I go to great pains to keep Americans apprised of British customs, sayings and manners. Not that we all take tea at precisely 4pm every day, or consort with the Queen on a regular basis, but there are some things that while minor, make all the difference.

If you’ve yet to read Rules, Britannia, let me recap a few of my tips:

Please – While the meaning of “please” is usually implied in the tone of an American request, the word itself is not always used. In the UK, its absence will draw audible intakes of breath and small children may well find the cookie, or toy they are requesting withheld until they “ask properly”. The word “please” is used by everyone regardless of background; it is said to everyone regardless of station, so that includes waiters and other people paid to serve you.

He/She – Again, while no harm is meant in the US by referring to a person as “he” or “she” while they are standing right in front of you, it’s considered very rude in the UK, and often elicits the rhetorical and shocked question “Who’s she? The cat’s mother”. Seriously. If you can’t remember, or don’t know, the name of the person you’re talking about, simply say “We were just discussing…..”.

Read more about language problems: