Every week I receive requests from people who would like to ‘pick my brains’ with questions they have about their global careers. People want to know how to create a brilliant overseas career that delivers value to themselves and their family. They want to know how to be more productive more quickly in their new international job. And they’re trying to figure out how to have the freedom to enhance their career with a global assignment without the uncertainty and guilt of making their family unhappy during the move. Chances are, you probably have these same types of questions. And you’ve probably even spent some time on blogs, forums and around the web, trying to get answers. Problem is, you keep getting conflicting answers, right? For example, just pop onto any expat forum and ask this question: how can I get established quickly in my new job after I move abroad? I guarantee that you’ll get conflicting advice. Some people will tell you to make sure you get language training. Another group will advocate that you must get lots of intercultural coaching. You may even be told you need to completely retrain in your chosen profession because your skills aren’t recognised. And just to make it extra confusing, you might get a few people telling you to make friends with as many local people as possible – or even just to stick to the ‘expat community’. So you’re left to sort through the wheat and the chaff. If you’re new to that particular community, it’s even harder because you don’t know whom to trust. Because the truth is, there are plenty of wannabe global careers coaches who want you to think they know what they’re talking about – but they’re just as clueless as everyone else. And in some cases, these types of people are offering downright dangerous advice. That’s why I compiled this list of frequently asked questions. I wanted to make sure you got the right advice from someone who’s successfully navigated the world of global careers and helped over 2000 people do the same. Read on… 1. What is the best way to find the right global career move for me? First, get really clear about the strengths and talents you have that make you great at your current job. You can do this by completing one of the many free or low cost strengths surveys available online or by asking for feedback from your colleagues and managers. Getting really clear about your strengths and your unique ‘value added’ factor is critically important and the most often overlooked first step. There are 7 billion people on this planet and counting. It’s important that you stand out in the global crowd if you want a recruiter to select you for an interview or position. And once you get those critical interviews you’ve been longing for, you need to KNOW what outstanding value you offer and how you can create value for the company that is looking to employ you. Finding out about your strengths is a critical first step in defining how you create value in your global career. It seems so simple and yet it is the most often overlooked step. Finally, by concentrating on your strengths and talents, you will naturally focus on a global career move that you can be passionate about. This passion will sustain you and propel you forward as you make such a huge career transition. You will need a ton of passion to relaunch your career overseas – but the rewards will be amplified back to you in a big way when you get it right. 2. Intercultural coaching is expensive. Is there a cheaper way to get the same results? Intercultural coaching can be a really good idea, especially if you’re going to be moving to a country where the culture is very different or even quite challenging. It’s important to learn the basic do’s and don’ts early on so that you stay out of trouble! However, for the more subtle aspects of learning a culture’s ropes, you could also hook up with a good mentor who comes from that culture and learn from their insider experience. You should ask your global employer if they have a mentoring scheme that you could join, or find your own mentor via one of the many cross-cultural networking groups that exist. Depending on the circumstance, this could be an excellent free to low cost way of learning about the culture that you’ll be living in. In summary, focus intercultural coaching on the most important areas, namely staying out of trouble and look to develop your intercultural competences by finding a great mentor with whom you can develop a trustful relationship. You can find a wonderful description of how this kind of peer mentoring helped two of the world’s top business women to navigate the post-merger world of Lenovo in the book ‘The Lenovo Way’ by Yolanda Lee Conyers and Gina Qiao. You can find out more about global executive coaching, including some case studies, here. 3. What’s the fastest way to be most productive in my new overseas job? If you haven’t done so already, you should head over to the link I provided about completing a strengths test so that you can focus straight away on finding out your talent currency and putting your natural talents to work in your new overseas job. Spending just 25% more of your time using your strengths and talents will create a step change in your productivity in your new overseas job. When you harness your strengths in your global career, you create natural engagement and energy for being more productive, more quickly. And it can be all too tempting to focus solely on productivity after a job move. You really need to start focusing on value creation, which is what will make the international move worth the huge investment As good as you were before is no longer good enough, sorry to tell you! You should make appointments to meet with your key stakeholders and managers to listen to their thoughts on where they need you to add value and you should be prepared to offer them your vision for how you will add value too. You then need to focus your efforts on re-establishing an appropriate network as quickly as possible. 4. I’ve been trying to launch my next global career step, I end up getting turned down for positions and losing my confidence as a consequence. How can I avoid this in the future? The biggest cause that I see of getting turned down for global job moves is something I call ‘settling for anything in order to pay the bills’. People often feel under pressure to move their career abroad either because the economy is bad in their local area or because their company requires them to have ‘international experience’ to get promoted. Sometimes they leave behind excellent careers because they’re moving for family or personal reasons. But recruiters can smell desperation a mile away and it is a big turn off! Surprise, surprise – you need to know what it is that you’re passionate about and how you create great value when you’re doing that thing. Focus ONLY on positions that harness your passions and your strengths and talents and be crystal clear in your explanations of where you add value. Failing to do this means you’re doing a disservice to yourself, the company you’re applying to and the country you want to move to. You’re also wasting the recruiter’s time when you show up on their doorstep offering your services for positions that you only want to do so that you can pay your bills. Don’t sell yourself short! Re-write your CV from top to bottom making sure that it reflects your passions, strengths and talents, and where you see yourself adding unique value to the company. Concentrate on highlighting what you bring that a local hire may not. Do your research so that you understand why someone with the unique global experience you have will be a key asset to that company. 5. I’ve been trying to re-establish my professional network after moving overseas for the last 2 years, but I’m finding it hard to get connected to the right people. It’s really holding back my professional progress in this country. What am I doing wrong? Are you clear on what value you create for your company and the country you’ve moved to? Do you communicate that to the people you’re meeting in your networking efforts? Are the people you’re trying to connect with really interested in the value you can create for them? Your answer to these questions should be a clear ‘yes!’ Here’s a short exercise for you – describe the value you create in one sentence so that someone else could describe it to their colleagues after meeting you only once. The power of this simple exercise is profound. Once you get this statement crafted and you start to use it in your networking meetings, you’re network will start to grow under its own steam. Why? Because you’re so clear about the value you provide to others and you’ve enabled them to spread the word for you. This kind of networking also rebuilds your reputation and your credibility in your new host country, which is something you will have lost, more or less, when you moved abroad. It may be that no one is willing to develop those relationships with you because they don’t understand the great reputation you had previously. Help your network by getting clear on the value you can create for them, sharing your strengths and talents, and your networking will take on a life of its own. 6. I’m responsible for growing business for my employer during this global assignment. I don’t have a whole lot of time to find new business opportunities because since we moved because the learning curve has been so steep and my family is also relying on me a lot more. How can I meet all these demands? Once you are clear about your strengths and the value you create, you need to prioritise activities and events that will allow you to focus more of your energy on where you create value. Note that I’m not even saying ‘most of your time..’. Scientific research has shown that even increasing your strengths use a little has big positive effects. For example, if you are brilliant at connecting with others, you need to prioritise work activities that help you to put this strength to work. Strengths put to work, just like any other form of currency, equals value creation. There’s an added benefit which will help you create more time, energy and connections and therefore lead to those new business opportunities. When you focus on using your strengths and talents, you get better results for less effort. It feels so good focus on the work activities you’re passionate about and that harness your strengths that when you use it, you feel even more motivated and energised. You will inevitably energise people around you and makes them want to connect with you. Simply by focusing on your strengths and where you add value, you’ve now created more time and energy for finding those business opportunities. 7. If you went back in time and were going to move your career overseas for the first time ever, what would you do differently this time? All of the above! Seriously – I have made all of these mistakes and more. I learned the hard, long way how to make my global career work for me, my family, my clients and employers, and my host country. But to keep things simple, in order of priority, I would tell my past self to get crystal clear on my passions, my strengths and talents, and then get crystal clear on what value I’m offering to the market in my new country. It’s as simple (and as complicated) as that! The rest – the network, the reputation, the ability to create leverage and the ability to transform global business – flows from you addressing these two points. In conclusion… I’m glad to have been able to share these insights about finding your next international job move, growing your global career, and successfully moving your family abroad. I hope that means that you now feel more confident about travel your talent overseas more confidently, because you’re armed with the knowledge you need to succeed. However, I know that a lot of people would like much more individual help in getting crystal clear on the crucial next global career steps. Every month I make time in my schedule to help six people get that clarity by offering a them a complimentary Global Career Breakthrough Session. These fill up very quickly! But you can find out more and see if there are any of these sessions still available here.