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Five questions to ask before you seek work abroad


What about your family?

Before you seek work abroad, consider your family circumstances. If you have a family, will they travel with you or stay behind? If they stay behind, do you have a trusted caretaker for the children? The best caretaker, of course, is a parent, but also consider making arrangements to have your family join you once you’re settled.{{more}} If you are married, it can be quite difficult to maintain a healthy marriage while apart. In fact, many marriages are destroyed when spouses work in different countries and the temptation becomes too great. Think about how you will “affair proof” your marriage, as absence in this case does not make the heart grow fonder, but makes it go astray. The best plan, of course, is to make the time apart as short as possible.

Are you open to learning?

An assignment abroad will give you the chance to build new skill sets, only if you are open to the idea. It would be in your best interest to gain experience and exposure in areas that were not typically available back at your old place of employment. You can also cut your learning curve by actively seeking out a mentor to show you how to build your career and skill sets faster and more effectively.

Do you understand the global connection?

Your ability to see how your job, company or island fit into the global arena can come from an assignment abroad. Too often people in small communities think in a very narrow way, which can actually hinder their growth as well as that of the community overall. Think about how your assignment can positively impact your career when you gain a broader view.

Are you ready?

If you are not emotionally and professionally mature, you could essentially waste your assignment abroad. Overseas assignments are not for you to party hard and make friends. Too often individuals spoil these opportunities to excel, because they are too focused on the fun, social aspects of being away in a new place where no one knows who they are.

Do you have a Plan B?

Sometimes assignments abroad are misrepresented; the position is not what you expected or you may realize you bit off way more than you can chew. What is your back-up plan? If the assignment is not working out, are you able to return home or move on to another opportunity? For some people, going back home may be difficult, because they left a string of destroyed personal and professional relationships. It is vital that you never burn your bridges with the people you may one day need.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a FREE SPECIAL REPORT on Avoiding Career Killers in the Workplace, send an email to
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