When is the Right Time to Move Overseas?

November 6 2013 by Borja Saldana

Working abroad provides is a dream job opportunity for many people but there are always pros and cons to establishing yourself in a new country. This article explores the reasons for and against moving abroad in early or mid career

Why move at the start of your career? To get a job when the market is very competitive in your country of origin The academic job market is very competitive at the moment in many parts of the world and you may feel that you have no choice but to consider opportunities elsewhere the world. You may find the job opportunities are better overseas, with higher salaries and better working conditions. Enhance your employability later If you want to return to your country of origin later in your career, it may be beneficial to you to have some years of experience working abroad. It shows initiative and also demonstrates an awareness of global academia that might be useful to employers in your own country as they seek to develop their international agenda. It is important to go into a period of work abroad with a clear plan of your goals and how long you want to be abroad.

Fewer family ties While it is not always the case that scholars at the very start of a career find a move easier, they are less likely to have a mortgage, a young family and other commitments to keep them in their own country. However, this is a generalisation and everyone’s circumstances are different. There may be elderly parents to consider or you may have started a family while a PhD student. A move abroad is always a challenge for personal reasons at whatever stage of the career that it’s taken.

More adaptable to new cultures While it’s not true for everyone, moving to a new country and fitting in with a new culture is easier for some people when they are younger. However, you may have a naturally adventurous spirit and want such a significant challenge at later in life: again it depends on your personality.

Difficulties of moving at the start of your career: You have little work experience to use when trying to seek work abroad As a new scholar you haven’t yet really established your niche and so may find it hard to ‘sell yourself’ when competing with overseas candidates. When your are an established scholar in your own country you will have a strong CV with which to approach overseas jobs.

You will start at junior level: very competitive and very hard work! Beginning a new job in a new country at the bottom of the career ladder is something to think long and hard about. Teaching loads are likely to be heavy and wages relatively low.

Later on in your career you may have established your international reputation and so are able to command a higher salary and will not be competing for work with large numbers of junior scholars produced by that country’s universities.

You will also be more confident of your own leadership and interpersonal skills that will allow you to flourish in a foreign environment. Having the assurance to know that you are good at your job and have something positive to offer can help you to overcome the initial culture shock of relocating.