Are you interested in an international career, perhaps like the one I have had, working abroad for such companies as Procter & Gamble, IBM, and Microsoft, and now as an international coach and consultant? If that is your dream, here are some tips, extracted from a workshop I recently held in Peru.
Let’s start with the basics. Following are the three most common types of international careers:
- Work in another country with local, regional, or global responsibilities.
- Work from your country with clients or responsibilities from another country.
- Perform work that requires constant trips abroad.
An international career is a life choice. To achieve this goal and be successful, consider the following five steps:
- Develop a plan to meet your international career goal:
- Set the goal within your long-term career aspirations, and ensure it is compatible with your personal goals.
- Develop an action plan and create a tracking system to monitor your progress.
- Be 100 percent accountable for your plan.
- Crystallize what you want in an international career. Are you looking for professional growth? Improved compensation? Or to learn about other cultures?
- Know how to position yourself as an international candidate:
- Find a job or occupation that allows you to work in a global labor market.
- Build an international network leveraging LinkedIn, targeting the geographies, industries, and companies you’re interested in.
- Develop a unique value proposition. Why should an international company hire you instead of a local candidate? Pinpoint the capabilities, experiences, and personal traits that will make you stand out.
- Become a “professional student,” and never stop learning. Here are some areas in which you can increase your knowledge:
- Research the courses, best practices, industry trends, and leading companies in your target field.
- Learn foreign languages and cultures, especially those related to your target countries.
- Study information technology in your target field, and make sure you are up to date with the latest in personal communication as well.
One half of my life has been spent in the international arena, and the trend is likely to continue. What has worked for me? Seeing the glass half-full and not half-empty, learning English as a second language, adapting to the countries I have lived in, being open to change, and, last but not least, ensuring my wife and three kids were happy wherever we went.
If I had to do it all over again, I would probably follow the same international path. It has been the biggest adventure in my life.
Percy M. Cannon
I recently had the opportunity to speak about the importance of a strong LinkedIn presence within an International Careers talk. I highlighted the top three elements to focus on: picture, headline and background Image. The attached article mentions a fourth (summary).
Beyond the importance of having a background image that is coherent with the image you are trying to project, I picked up new tip today: to consider updating this background image on a regular basis.
In any event, do not keep the default background image from LinkedIn. Use your own.
Good advice to stretch ourselves outside our comfort zone. Try something new this week, either within or outside work. It will develop the muscle of feeling comfortable within new environments or situations, which can in turn help you when you encounter similar challenges at work.
Knowing your audience is the first and, to me, most important tip provided in this article. As a corollary to it, I would add “to engage them.” They have to clearly see “what’s in it for me.” Otherwise you will lose them or, worse yet, never connect with them.
The attached article (and video) is about how your current roles can be replaced by somebody (or something) else in 6 months, so as to free you up to undertake higher level or different responsibilities.
However, this thought-provoking title made me recall a similar question posed from the top management of a client of mine: Would you rehire yourself for your current job? The business model of this company was changing and the intention behind this question was, I think, to motivate the employees to reinvent themselves and quickly embrace and contribute to this new model.
So, consider both questions as food for thought…
Good reminder to exercise, eat nutritious meals and sleep well. I want to specifically highlight their suggestion to allocate to yourself the first 2-3 hours after you wake up. What can you do in those 2-3 hours? Exercise, meditate, pray, read, plan your day and eat breakfast, among others. Develop a routine that suits your interests and preferences. Even if you are rushed one day, compress the routine but do your best not skip it.
Good suggestions in this article. My routine just moments before giving a talk is to “warm up” both my neck (it tends to get stiff when I’m nervous) and my voice (dialing up and down the volume, pitch and tone). Do you care to share your routine?
Lead by example: you either show respect to your colleagues when they present (by putting your phone away, closing your laptop and devoting your full attention to their presentation), or you will have not gained the right to demand their attention when you are presenting. Assuming you do the former, then follow the suggestions in this article. Otherwise, don’t expect respect if you don’t show respect….
The question about what it takes to be a good team player often comes up in my coaching practice with executives and leadership teams. Most of us who have worked in medium or large institutions can provide several characteristics of good and bad team players.
Out of the large amount of literature available on this subject, I prefer to use the three qualities outlined in Patrick Lencioni’s book The Ideal Team Player. They resonate well with my own observations both as a coach and, before that, as a corporate executive.
- Be humble. I find team members struggle the most with this quality. It’s hard for them to admit their mistakes, ask for help, and give praise to others. Corporate cultures tend to reward individual over collective accomplishments, which makes it hard to show your vulnerabilities. However, being humble is a choice you can make and, for those of you who lead teams, you can role model.
- Be hungry. I find elements of this virtue in most successful executives. They are willing to go the extra mile to deliver results above expectations. However, the challenge I see is how to demonstrate this passion and personal responsibility not only for their individual objectives, but also for the greater good of the team.
- Be smart. This is about active listening and showing empathy for other team members. It’s also about treating others the way they want to be treated.
As an executive and team leader, you have a choice to make: Work as an individual, or work as a team. If it’s the latter, consider role-modeling these three qualities. Your team will likely follow suit.
Let me know if you would like to schedule a free consultation call to discuss how I can coach you or your employees to achieve better team results or to improve other leadership and management skills.
Percy M. Cannon
5 good reasons to overcome the fear of failure and make career-enhancing moves. As stated in this article, it’s all about leading your career by demonstrating the courage needed to “take the shot.” The fallback is to let others dictate your career moves. Your choice.