Working abroad forces you to leave your comfort zone at the airport, and lets you experience a new culture and impress future employers.
One of the attractions for many people looking to enter the OSH profession is the potential to work overseas. Whether that’s heading off to the Middle East, venturing to Australia or New Zealand or moving to the UK or Europe, there are plenty of opportunities for those looking to expand their horizons and experiences.
One way of doing this is through an existing employer, so if this is something you’re interested in it would be worth targeting international or global organisations when first applying for a job. Once in, and with some experience, you can investigate the possibility of working on an overseas project.
Speak to line managers or HR about this, and bring it up in appraisals. Initially this may involve working on projects from your local country, but in time there may be opportunities for a secondment abroad or even the chance to apply for a transfer.
Alternatively, you could apply directly for overseas jobs. It’s more likely that this is a step you’d take having already worked in the profession, and any applications will be stronger if you have some previous experience.
But it’s not impossible to land an overseas role as a first job, particularly if you’ve already studied in that country. IOSH has a strong network of members based in different countries around the world, so it’s worth using that to connect to people in the location where you’re interested in working. They may be able to offer advice, and possibly even help you make local connections. Recruitment agencies can also help here.
When thinking about working for an overseas business, there are a few practicalities you’ll have to consider. Here’s our rough guide to working abroad.
- Identify any particular requirements around working in that country, particularly when it comes to visas. Some countries, such as the UK and Australia, operate shortage occupation lists, and only grant visas for a specific period of time. The employer may be able to help here; in Dubai, for instance, it’s the employer’s responsibility to apply for a work permit and residency visa on your behalf.
- You’ll also need to think about the job itself, as you would with any role. What will the work involve, and what are the opportunities for promotion or career development? Will you be entitled to any training? What is the salary, and how far will this go in a different country? Check the annual leave allowance too, particularly if you have plans to travel around a region.
- Consider the realities of working overseas. You might be leaving behind family and friends, or relocating your family. There could be a language barrier to overcome, and achieving fluency in the language used will help you adapt to both the job and living in a different country.
Working overseas can be extremely beneficial to a career, and can give rise to different professional experiences. Employers generally look favourably on applicants who have gone out of their comfort zone, and experienced a different culture, so a stint overseas could certainly pay off in the long run.