71% of millennials want to work abroad during their career according to the PWC Millennials at Work study.
But many companies drastically lag behind the global mobility planning and foresight needed to provide this opportunity to their top talent.
This disconnect is already happening.
Many of the talented, ambitious young professionals I speak with are increasingly frustrated by the resistance of their employer to let them explore in-house jobs abroad.
Most recently I was working with a US based supply chain professional and millennial who had applied within her company for the exact same role but in Ireland.
She presented a tailored 10 slide business case to the HR team which explained – amongst other information – her current business knowledge and how she could quickly add value and save money to the newly established European outlet.
My millennial saw this role abroad as an opportunity to grow her career and develop an international skillset while providing proficiency to her current 3 year employer.
HR turned her down flat saying they had no interest in sponsoring her visa.
She countered with a proposal where she would pay for the visa fees. Yet again, HR said they weren’t interested due to the paperwork process for her current level.
Those companies aligned to archaic government policies and out of date expat thinking are missing a tremendous shift in global talent development and retention.
Millennials want international experience early in their careers, and they aren’t going to wait until human resources is ready to go and get it.
Which is why today we see more and more Self-Initiated Expats – or SIEs.
SIEs are “qualified people who move to new countries of their own volition, without company sponsorship,” according to Expat Research.
They “act more like entrepreneurial ‘free agents’ pursuing boundaryless careers than traditional company-assigned expatriates whose moves are directed and controlled by a corporation.”
SIEs skip the work for an organization for a long-time with the hope that an assignment abroad and instead get hired straight from the source – companies abroad.
I did this. Back in 2008 I was told from a senior HR person that I would have to build my career at a company over the course of 8-10 years until I was qualified to apply for an international assignment.
I did not take this advice.
Instead, I initiated my own job search abroad, opting to join an American company on the ground in the United Arab Emirates as a local hire.
They paid for my visa; I paid for my plane ticket. No huge, fancy expat assignment was arranged, but I started my international career at the age of 22.
While employers struggle to catch-up to what makes the millennial generation tick, SIE’s will continue to uncover opportunities in which they can take their talent abroad without the corporate baggage.
If your employer is saying no, or not right now, to your legitimate requests to develop your international skills, consider this, there is an entiretribe of Self-Initiated Expats carving their own paths abroad right now.
Why not you?