Points to Ponder When Moving Abroad for Your IT Job


With advances in technology and the globalization of markets, there is an ever greater opportunity for IT professionals to find employment outside their homelands.


There is a global talent pool of IT professionals who are regularly head-hunted by multinational companies in need of their skills. Some countries early on realized this fact and relaxed their residency requirements in order to attract foreign IT pros to live and work within their borders. And it's now even easier to receive a job offer from an overseas company.


So, what makes it easier for IT professionals to find jobs overseas? The answer is common skills among IT professionals around the world. Similar technologies and hardware exist in different infrastructures in different parts of the world. For example, servers' infrastructure used by a telecom operator in Singapore are also in use by Canadian telecom operators despite the language and cultural differences between the two countries.


The widespread adoption of technology around the world, along with requirements for compatibility and integration between IT systems have introduced this similarity.


Of course, adoption rates for new technologies are faster in some countries than others, but the reality is that IT is here to stay. All countries are advancing, and they all need skilled workers. For trained and certified IT workers, this translates into easier access to overseas jobs, and increased interest from multinationals in expats who meet their skill requirements.


How hard is it to decide to relocate and accept a job in another country? It's a tough enough decision to leave a current job for a new one. Imagine also changing your country and leaving family and friends behind.


I did just such a thing recently when I accepted a great job offer and had to relocate from Egypt to Ireland. I wrestled for a long time with the questions that accompanied the transplanting of myself to a distant land. I often doubted if I could make such a drastic move. The decision was not at all easy and it took me months to decide and finally accept the offer.


The big decision of relocating to a foreign land depends on personal preferences and differs from person to person. People are not the same, they differ in personality, age, interests, financial situation, and so forth. Each person will have a unique and very personal mix of factors that affect their decision.


So if you are considering relocation to a new land for that great job, I have a few suggestions for you to consider:


Study the country


One caveat when researching a country: Check out the internet forums, boards and social media. These are very good sources of knowledge about the destination country.


Not surprisingly, Egypt and Ireland are quite different. Before I decided to relocate, I studied Ireland in great detail. Of course it is a beautiful country, with many differences including culture, traditions, weather (no surprise there), food, and cost of living to mention just a few.


While I found some of the differences to be good, I knew I would have some serious challenges with others. For example, I learned that the Irish, just like Egyptians, were friendly and accepting of expats.


On the other hand, the weather in Egypt is very warm most of the year while in Ireland it is often cold and raining. This was a big difference. Egypt's wettest region, along the Mediterranean coast, averages a mere 200 mm of rainfall annually. On the other hand, Ireland's most common form of precipitation is rain and parts of the country get anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 mm annually. The Irish have eleven different names for rain.


As I studied and listed the similarities and differences among both countries, I was able to get a better idea of what my new life in the Emerald Isle would be like — a beautiful country filled with friendly people who owned a lot of umbrellas. I could live with that.


Know your new company


Business peeps having a deep discussion

You will be spending most of your day working at your new company. So you need to get a feel for their culture and way of doing things.


Ask questions to recruiters and potential colleagues. Talk to them in depth while you are making the decision, as well as once you're working in country. Most colleagues are helpful and willing to give advice based on their experiences. I personally found my new colleagues to be most helpful, especially those who, like me, had relocated from Egypt to Ireland.


Getting to know the corporate environment will help you decide if it will be a good fit for you. Ask to talk with your new manager as well. He is the one who knows the most about your new role and what will be expected from you on the job.


If you don't have much access to colleagues in the new company or if you just need more information about the work environment, search the Internet for company reviews by former employees. You will be surprised at how much useful information you can garner from this source — more than you might expect.


Evaluate your career plans


This should be general advice when evaluating any job opportunity. You should ascertain that the new position offers you the sort of opportunities for career growth that you want. A professional career should be an ascending curve of continuous growth and your new job should contribute to this. Take time to explore in depth career growth opportunities available in the new role and match them to your goals.


Remember that this is a big change in your life and you should make sure that it provides benefits both personal and professional.


Do it early


If you plan to seek opportunity overseas, then I would advise you to do that early in your career. While relocating for a job can happen at any stage in your professional career, it's definitely easier when you have fewer responsibilities and commitments professionally and personally.


Taking this step when you are single is much easier than when you have to decide as a married couple. The decision becomes more challenging when you have to think about how to relocate with a family and arranging for housing and schooling. That doesn't mean you will never have a family and stable life, but it does mean you will often change your plans based on your available options.


Weigh pros and cons


Once you've gathered your information, and have at least considered the less knowns and unknowns of your move to the new job and country, it's time to list and weigh the pros and cons.


In light of your personal preferences, start prioritizing and weighing each item on your list giving more weight to items you feel are most important. While quality of life in the new country may be the highest priority for someone, a social life in terms of family and friends may be the most important item for another one.


I had lot of items in my list when I was deciding including: family, friends, quality of life, cost of living, salary, relocation package, children's education, career growth and more. List as many items as you can to help in your evaluation.


Make certain to include the people who are impacted by your decision. Consult your spouse, family members (young and old) and friends and colleagues to allow them input about your decision and the merits of the opportunity for you. Doing so will increase the likelihood of considering all facets of the proposed move and enable you to come to the best conclusion for you. Once you have enough confidence in your decision, go for it, and good luck!


Now if you'll excuse me, it's raining out and I've got to go find my umbrella.


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About the Author
Ahmed Badr

Ahmed Badr is a network consultant with more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing and operating large scale network infrastructures. He holds a BSc in Communications and one in Electronics Engineering, and a Master of Business Administration. He also holds a CCIE certificate in Routing and Switching since 2008. Ahmed can be contacted at: abadr.ahmed@gmail.com.