Working abroad comes with plenty challenges and rewards, but it may also influence one’s ongoing career to a much greater extent than expected.
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For many female expats, professional engagements abroad enhanced their career prospects and become invaluable in terms of professional experience.
A recent survey from Nat West International Personal Banking, showed that more than two thirds (83 percent) of women working abroad say that it has improved their careers. Over half of the 400 interviewed female expats claimed that working abroad has exceeded their expectations. However, many have also said that they have experienced gender inequality at work, by not being treated equally to their male colleagues.
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More than 20 percent claim that they felt left out from informal communication between colleagues In terms of or gender parity, the highest performing countries are Canada, New Zealand, the USA and Australia, with UAE being the worst ranked country on the list of twelve destinations. The best sectors for women to improve their careers and to grow professionally, according to this survey, are finance, banking, retail, marketing and publishing.
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Expat women claimed that finding a job abroad is sometimes rather difficult, especially if they accompany their partners who have been given assignments in another country. Those who have managed to find a job abroad and succeed in developing their career say that there are some key personal characteristics needed for success, namely good focus, self-confidence and flexibility.
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“Working in a foreign environment demands that you learn to work cross-culturally, dealing with many issues you might not normally encounter,” said Stacie Nevadian Bernard, co-author of Get Ahead by Going Abroad: a Woman’s Guide to Fast-Track Career Success. Nevertheless, despite all the obstacles, working abroad will in most cases boost a career and provide female expats an advantage in their future professional endeavors.
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Eleanor Fullalove, Property & Living Editor of FrenchEntrée.com said “Moving abroad is the best thing I ever did. I have worked in Nice and in Paris and the opportunities I’ve had to work abroad helped advance my career.” Eleanor’s experience is far from unique. Alison Meehan lives in Spain and runs Costa Women, a social network community for women. She stresses that experience of a new culture, language, customs and different worldviews are priceless advantages in a competitive job market, saying “I have worked in Australia, Dubai, Thailand and Spain; all of which were for different reasons and all gave a different work experiences.”