If your company has recently asked you to relocate, making the jump can be a major plus for your career. In an increasingly competitive finance industry, having global experience (or even working in different U.S. markets) can put you ahead of the pack. For one, working out of a new company location will develop your leadership skills and help you to become a better manager, says Nancy Harley, Americas director of career mobility at Ernst & Young. "You really learn how to learn to understand different communication styles," she says.
But making that transition is difficult and deciding whether you'll be better off in a new part of your company is not always a clear choice. Consider these aspects before and during a transition:
Get in the Mindset
Since an offer to relocate within your company can come up suddenly, it's a good idea to have discussed the possibilities of moving with those involved, before receiving the official word, says Harley. It's important for employees to have a "mobility mindset," she adds. Discussing aspects like elder parent care, career opportunities for your spouse, and childcare responsibilities early in the process can smooth the way once you receive an offer and only have several months to relocate. For many employees, "it's a question of getting the support and buy-in of the family," she says.
Build Long-Term Goals for Short-Term Assignments
Before taking on a project-based assignment in a different location, make sure you and your managers are on the same page regarding the long-term benefits to your career. Get a "guarantee in writing that they will provide you with a position of comparable level and salary upon completion of the project," says Megan Fitzgerald, a career coach in Rome who works with expats. "You could be setting yourself up to be without a job sooner than you think."
Keep Work-Life Balance in Mind
If your new role requires working long hours -- as it often does in finance -- it's important to be upfront with your family about how your relocation will impact them. Factor things like your spouse's professional prospects and even your family's overall "excitement" in the equation, says Fitzgerald. "The personal and professional problems that this situation can create are many and can extend beyond the end of the assignment," she says.
Understand the Value of Global Experience
International exposure is a sure way to increase your career capital. Many top finance executives have had experience working in both their home countries as well as emerging markets. And while it's not a must, time spent working abroad can help you get a firsthand look at other aspects of the company and increase performance. "There is no substitute for having the personal relationships that you've built face-to-face," says Harley.
Consider a Smaller Market
Leaving a large city behind to advance your career can come with important benefits, but it's essential to negotiate before accepting such an offer. For example, if you're currently working at a large bank make sure that a move to a smaller city means that you will be able to take on more responsibility within the bank, says Joyce Reynolds, an executive business coach based in Fort Lauderdale. "If those benefits are not apparent and the move is lateral, it's likely that moving to a smaller pond is not a good idea," she says.
Before saying yes, make sure your career needs are being met. Employee relocation is often a big plus for the company, so discussing what kind of benefits your new position will have for you is important. Knowing exactly what your new finance position entails can help you be more prepared once the negotiations start. "Become knowledgeable of the best (relocation) standards for comparable executives," says Reynolds. Aspects to consider include: repatriation benefits, scope of assignment, salary, education, home leave and housing.
Stay Engaged Regarding Your Career Path
Just because you're working in Ho Chi Minh City, doesn't mean that your U.S.-based supervisor shouldn't stay informed about your newest professional goals. Once you leave on assignment, make sure everyone is on the same page about how you're further developing your finance skills, says Fitzgerald. "Ongoing engagement with the company to insure your future with the company is incredibly important," she says.
While we don't suggest you hop on the first plane to London at the first offer from your employer, for many, relocation can be an immensely useful career move. Not only can it help you develop professionally, but moving to a new place has personal benefits too, says Harley who has worked from four E&Y locations. "If you have the courage to try something like this, it demonstrates that you want to grow," she says. Understand the drawbacks before you accept: relocating with your company can mean a tough transition into a new culture and it's important to negotiate a long-term career plan before saying yes.
-- Alina Dizik
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-- How to Succeed in an Overseas Assignment