Life Abroad Work Abroad

Run, Don’t Walk, From These Companies

Currently I am working from my computer in a Buenos Aires cafe. I am also WhatsApping my brother in Chicago and Facebook messaging a friend in London.

This is the new normal.

Globalization coupled with economic instability has increased the desire for my generation to find work wherever we can in the world. Technology has made it much easier to do this successfully.

This isn’t just a tiny trend. 71% of millennials want to go abroad in their career, according to PWC.

While securing an opportunity with work to go abroad used to be for a select few, today the majority of millennials expect that it will be part of our career path. In a competitive world, gaining international experience is fundamental to doing global business long-term.

Millennials know this. Companies know this.

Which is why it’s perplexing and worrisome that so many companies are not doing what’s necessary to foster global talent and yet still believe they can remain a competitive employer.

They can’t. Not for much longer at least as baby boomers retire and millennials make up more of the workforce.

It’s those companies with robust international strategies and development programs who are winning dynamite global talent.

For example, an American girlfriend of mine works for Google in London. After she made it through their rigorous hiring process the company doubled down on their talent.

They encouraged and paved the way for her to work abroad and gain global skills. She’s an impact player, and they saw this as a smart talent investment.

On the other hand, another friend of mine has been trying to convince her company to transfer her from the USA to the UK in a lateral role for a year.

She sees this as an amazing development opportunity for her to learn their European business and stay with the company through the next phase of her professional development. She has even offered to pay for all the costs, including the visa.

The answer from HR has been vehemently “no.” They blame immigration laws. I blame them. Any HR person worth their weight understands the importance of properly navigating antiquated immigration laws in order to establish global business.

While companies are interested in having great global talent, they are uninterested in developing it.

And therein lies the rub.

Today’s businesses want and need globally equipped employees in their talent pool to survive. Yet, many companies still are unwilling to make the changes to old school policies and set aside the investment needed to develop this talent.

But some certainly will, and not just Google.

What we have to do is know the right questions to ask to discover if the company has the flexibility and openness needed to creatively grow global talent.

Want to know if your current or future employer will invest in your global development? Ask these 3 questions.

Question 1: How important is it to the company that their employees have global skills and a global mindset? How about you personally?

Answer: You want to hear that this is of very high importance to both. Have them rank it on a scale of 1-10. Ask if there are company goals on developing talent. Ask them to explain what they mean by global skills. You want to hear about assignments abroad, working with foreign clients, cross-cultural skill building, etc. Has your manager had a global experience? Ask him/her about it.

Question 2: How have you and the business been actively developing your people to be skilled in a global marketplace?

Answer: Ask for for actual examples of how they have made these investments. You want concrete evidence, not philosophy. Note it investment can mean more than monetary sponsorship. It could also be support for taking work trips, international assignments, courses on negotiating with foreign clients, language support, etc.

Question 3: How creative have you been in the past to create valuable learning opportunities for team to develop skills in order to retain top talent?

Answer: If they tell me that they are bound by HR rules and programs, this is a warning sign. You are looking for a business that is flexible and creative in developing individualized opportunities in partnership with the business needs. One size fits all development programs can often be limiting. Does your manager have the authority to do what’s best for their team and business, even if this goes beyond what is normal or written in a policy? You want to hear yes.

When you ask these questions and dig into the answers, you’ll start to hear is the difference between those that actually practice building global talent and those that just think it’s a good idea.

If it’s the latter and you’re someone who sees international experience as a vital element to your career, run don’t walk the other direction.

If they are unwilling to invest in something 71% of the millennial workforce holds in high regard, what else won’t change fast enough?

Take your talent elsewhere.

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