Is relocation a risk or strategic career move? Is the thought of leaving a familiar place or disrupting your personal life unnerving or exciting? When in your career is a good time to relocate? Although there may be good reasons to stay, sometimes relocating can be a strategic career move, especially if you don’t have the same opportunities by staying where you are. Ultimately it’s a personal decision but I believe that relocating to various countries has been instrumental to my career growth.
My career story
My career has taken me from the UK to Australia to Asia and now the USA. I started working at Hays in England many years ago where I worked my way from a graduate to management level. Afterwards, I spent 11 years in Australia, working in Sydney and Perth, where I transitioned from management to director.
My most transformative years were when I moved to Asia, initially to lead our Japan business and then the region. Relocating to Asia from Australia wasn’t a decision I had considered before, however when the opportunity arose, I knew I was making a career investment. The opportunity would be challenging from all aspects, both in work and personally, but I saw it as an adventure. I went with the attitude: “If this opportunity isn’t a right fit, at least I tried it.” I had the opportunity to live in Japan and China as well as spending time in our other 4 countries in the Asia region, each has their own unique culture. The Hays Asia business grew significantly over the eight years I was there, and has continued to grow since.
“If this opportunity isn’t a right fit, at least I tried it.”
Recently, I took up the next chapter in my international career to join our USA business as the Senior Vice President for our US Western region. A business with huge potential for rapid growth.
Relocating for your career isn’t an easy decision to make. If you’re planning to move or are still on the fence, here’s my advice:
1. Focus on what matters
Will this opportunity fit with your long term career goals? What will you get out of the move both personally as well as career wise? Are you ready for the adventure and challenges that a move will present? If you are relocating as a family, how will it benefit them?
Ultimately you have to be both feet in and ready for the challenge and the unexpected.
2. Secure a job before moving
I highly recommend making the move if you’re guaranteed an opportunity, rather than doing something on a whim. Given worker visas are more difficult to acquire than in the past, your life will be a lot easier if you move with a job, or with your currently employer. If you are determined to move without a role then at least be eligible to work in that country.
3. Research the new area
It is essential to do your research before making the move. There are practical and personal factors to investigate. For instance, will my salary accommodate the cost of living in that area? What lifestyle am I looking for or am I prepared to forgo aspects of my desired lifestyle? If you’re moving to somewhere you have never been before consider making a temporary visit prior to moving.
4. Reach out to your networks
Find out if people in your network might know someone who’s living in your new city or has lived there. Sort through your LinkedIn and other social media connections by location. The people you’ll find may include distant relatives, old college friends, and people you encountered at networking events. Ask their advice, catch up on their lives, and see if they have additional people you could reach out to. Having people to connect with early can help you better adjust if you are relocating.
5. Limit unwelcomed surprises
Moving location can be expensive so be clear about what support with your employer will give you. Be prepared for any surprise expenses in getting set up. Know exactly what you will need to do on arrival in terms of day to day life such as getting bank accounts, driving licenses etc,
Your new job may be essentially the same, however different practices and culture should be taken into consideration as these can affect your success.
These are just a few tips from my personal experience, but I know that even though relocating can be anxiety-inducing, you can still find yourself in a familiar place no matter where you are in the world. For me the beauty of working at Hays is that each office feels the same it’s only when you look out of the window at the scenery that you realize you’re in a different location.
Are you looking to make your next career move? See what opportunities lie ahead.