Will international work experience help my job search at home?

Hi Fareed,

In the new world economy, everyone needs global career skills, no matter their location and no matter their vocation. (Read Thomas Friedman’s book The World Is Flat if you get the chance!) I myself run a small business and regularly find myself tapping in to the international resources that are available to me as a result of online connectivity. Last month, for instance, I searched online for “Animation Design Asia” and found an animation artist in Vietnam who created a complex set of characters for my Web site. The whole process took just three days and I paid just $150 for a job well done. That scenario necessitates both me and the hired designer being open to the idea of working internationally, across borders and cultural boundaries.

North American employers have already started to realize just how powerful the new “flat” global economy is, and they have begun hiring based on international and cross-cultural communication skills. These employers are, like me, also opening their horizons to a potential world of employees and professional contacts. For American employees to succeed in the new global economy, they need to be prepared to develop the relevant skills and to build develop international relationships. Can you put together a multiethnic project team? Can you work across time zones? The flexibility and communication skills involved in tasks like these are becoming important credentials for those wanting to succeed in the modern workplace. 

Apart from all this, the experiences that you have overseas will expand your intellect and deepen your worldview. A mature candidate with a high International IQ is a strong hire for any company back home, no matter what the industry. In short, the answer to your question is yes! Get international experience, and make the most of it. See Selling Your International Skills and also consider consulting Job Hunting When You Return (for registered users).

Good luck,

Full question: 

Will work experience abroad make my resume more attractive to an American employer?  

-Fareed, 25, Santa Barbara, CA