Professionals Are Prepared to Go Anywhere (With Your Support)

186914381New York, London, Paris, Zurich — it’s no surprise that these cities are where most professionals want to work. Add Sydney, Singapore, San Francisco and Vancouver, and the pictures starts to take shape.

Global professionals want to be in the world’s most dynamic capital cities, the mainly English-speaking financial, technology and communications hubs that have come to dominate today’s world economy.

The attraction of these cities is obvious – good career prospects, top-end remuneration, exciting and varied international opportunities, and a great social life underpinned by a wealth of cultural and leisure pursuits.

But is it really where most people end up working?

In our “global professionals on the move report 2014“, we found that only 42  percent of respondents already working abroad were located in these cities. What’s more, 21 percent of all survey respondents (those who had, were or wanted to work abroad) had no city preference – happy to relocate to a place that could provide the best international career prospects where ever that was.

It is possible that liveability is a deciding factor. The high cost of living in cities like London, Sydney and Singapore, not to mention transport issues, real estate prices, and difficulty finding schools for children, could negate the financial rewards. Few of these cities feature high on any liveability index, mostly because with the excitement of a capital city comes the increase in crime and other social issues, as well as a higher cost of living.

PREMIUM CONTENT: 2014 Buyers’ Survey: Buyers’ International Presence

Visa restrictions and work permits may also be a factor – it’s notoriously hard to get a work visa for the U.S., and while there is greater freedom of movement within the European Union, restrictions have become tougher for non-EU professionals. New wave economic growth cities are not any easier to get in to. Very few individuals want the headache of applying for a work permit for China or South Korea.

If global talent is willing to go where the best experience can be found, what is really the deciding factor in relocating?

Besides prospects, lifestyle at 31 percent and culture at 17 percent were big attractions for an international work destination from our survey respondents. Perhaps that’s because relocating overseas is an emotional decision. The top three destinations in our report are geographically miles apart – London, New York and Sydney, but have similar cultures. By contrast, a number of survey respondents had reservations about going to Brazil, Russia or China. Clearly security concerns, language and culture were seen as barriers, but ‘perceived’ distance from home was also an issue.

The whole process of getting there and settled in is certainly important. Companies that provide support to professionals and their families to adapt culturally and overcome language barriers have higher success rates with international placements. Equally helpful is support with “things on the ground” such as work permits or finding accommodation and schools makes the transition much easier and candidates more willing to go to and stay longer in a location that is culturally very different from home.

Stronger support and greater hand-holding from employers can diffuse poor perceptions and concerns about moving to a specific location. And it’s good news for companies that the talent pool of people with international experience is growing globally, and within it, most professionals are driven by the desire to simply find the right international experience, wherever in the world that may be.

MORE: Staying afloat by swimming in global talent pools

Tim Smeaton

Tim Smeaton
Tim Smeaton is CEO of Hydrogen, a global recruitment firm.

Tim Smeaton

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