10 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Going Global

I give a fair number of speeches and participate in many career conferences and panels across the country — both on campuses and within organizations — and almost always the question comes up: What can I do to increase my odds of being sent on a global assignment?  The answer is: Many things of course, but you can start with marketing yourself.

Companies spend a lot of money relocating employees abroad, so they want to be sure that you have not only the desire and the skills but also the character traits necessary to succeed. In addition to positioning yourself in a way that illustrates how you can add value in a particular country, you should highlight the characteristics that my co-author and I found to be commonly accepted as critical to a successful expat and noted in Chapter 1 of Get Ahead By Going Abroad:

  • Flexibility/Adaptability
  • Ability to listen and communicate well
  • Skill at building teams and relationships
  • Patience and persistence
  • Curiosity and open-mindedness

You’ll need to find opportunities to showcase these skills while you continue to deliver in your current job and take on any and all interesting international assignments.

In addition, I have a list of “10 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Going Global” taken from the research conducted for my book.  This list evolved from hundreds of interviews with professionals who had themselves landed an international assignment; these are tips from the pros:

  1. Perform your current duties with excellence.
  2. Make your international desires known often and broadly. Incorporate talk of an international assignment into your formal performance reviews — and other informal career conversations.
  3. Find a mentor to advocate for you, especially one with an international network.
  4. Learn and/or practice a foreign language.
  5. Research those countries you might be transferred to so you can make an informed decision.
  6. Demonstrate your cultural awareness and sensitivity while still in your home market.
  7. Point out ways you can make a difference for your organization overseas.
  8. Package yourself and your accomplishments in a non-self-serving way that demonstrates your potential value.
  9. Volunteer for special projects involving international work.
  10. If you believe that you will not be transferred by an organization, move to the country of your choice on your own (but take the necessary precautions).

These are some tried and true ways but there are probably more. Any one else have ideas to add?