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Wanderlust driving professionals to work overseas

Marketa Littlemore, head of talent acquisition at NonStop Recruitment


Working internationally is commonly listed as one of the main motivators for talent, particularly at the younger end of the spectrum. Proof can be seen in the thriving community of global relocation firms, talent mobility organisations and the rise of global talent mobility teams in larger companies. But as an international organisation we wanted to understand what this means for us and our talent. That’s why we conducted a ‘Working Overseas’ survey for professionals operating outside of their country of origin. But what’s driving people to make the move and how do their experiences vary? Here’s what we’ve found:


The survey questioned our employees working across Europe at a range of different levels and within various sectors about their motivations for moving overseas, the challenges they’ve faced and what they would advise those considering such a move. Perhaps most interestingly, it found that the main reason people move to work abroad is down to a desire to experience and learn more about different cultures (79%).


As a recruitment firm placing top talent from around the world into jobs, we knew from speaking to both them and our own employees that this would rank highly. Second was expanding a personal network (57%), while the opportunity to gain new skills and benefit from a lower cost of living were also regularly cited. When respondents were asked for more detail, many listed the prohibitive cost of buying property in their home country as one factor, with house prices in the likes of London, Paris and Rome putting many off.


Another factor behind the results is likely to be the potential to develop new skills, such as foreign languages, or simply to work alongside people of different cultures, which has been proven to improve performance at work. Professionals who stretch themselves by working overseas are likely to gain a greater appreciation of the world outside of their home nation, which can greatly benefit their career development.


We also questioned respondents on the most critical skills to possess when working internationally. The most commonly cited were resilience and determination, with 71% listing them as important, while possessing an open mind and a willingness to try new things came in as the second and third most popular reasons respectively.


However, the results weren’t all overwhelmingly positive. When asked about the challenges of working in a foreign country, the vast majority listed a language barrier as a major factor. Also making the rankings were issues with building long term relationships and moving away from friends and family. But, when taken in the context of experiencing a foreign culture and way of living, these were listed as relatively minor obstacles to overcome.


So for firms looking to recruit younger talent, now may be the time to offer greater international opportunities, if you have the capacity, as it’s clear that wanderlust and a drive to experience different cultures is a major motivational factor for many younger professionals.


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