How foreign work experience can give your career a boost

One of the ways trainees and newly-qualifieds can stand out from the crowd is to consider adding international work experience to their CV.

Loads of employers offer opportunities to transfer to overseas offices – typically in global finance hubs including Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and Frankfurt – on a temporary basis.

And for trainees seeking a permanent contract overseas, there are many employers eager to bring in those who have foreign language skills.

Trainees need to recognise the value of what working in a different culture and financial jurisdiction can add, as they learn more about their role, sector and industry in general.

Robert Half research found that six in 10 employers say that an employee’s chance of promotion ‘improves greatly’ if they have worked abroad – with the figure even higher among medium-sized and larger organisations.

Working in a different culture and financial jurisdiction is one of the best ways to develop your professional skills and understanding of your role, sector and industry in general.

Improving global economy

In addition, the improving global economy provides many opportunities for those who want to indulge their wanderlust – but, be warned, you are likely to face stiff competition. Approximately half of employers say they have witnessed a rise in voluntary turnover as employees target job opportunities overseas.

ACCA believes moving to work abroad shows potential employers that you are flexible and willing to tackle a different set of challenges to your peers.

Before you start picking which country you would like to work in, consider what additional qualifications you can add to your CV, how to improve your soft and hard skills (including relevant languages), and acquire relevant experience that will help you compete for that prized posting abroad

‘There is nothing quite like the adventure of living and working in another country,’ says ACCA. ‘You will also get to explore another culture and maybe even learn another language. It will boost your career experience and prospects.’

Phil Sheridan, senior managing director, Robert Half UK, South America and the Middle East, concurs: ‘Working abroad is one of the best ways to give your career a boost, while giving you unparalleled opportunities for experiencing new cultures, learning a language and gaining a broader understanding of the world and your industry.

So before you start picking which country you would like to work in, consider what additional qualifications you can add to your CV, how to improve your soft and hard skills (including relevant languages), and acquire relevant experience that will help you compete for that prized posting abroad.

Ask about opportunities

Finally, don’t be shy about asking your employer about opportunities for working overseas. The Robert Half research also found that just 13% of financial services workers take advantage of internal secondment opportunities during their career.

Sheridan adds: ‘If you are ambitious about your career and want to acquire international experience and know-how, then a year or more abroad can put you on the fast-track to the higher echelons of your profession. So start planning now for that life-changing opportunity.’

Don't forget...

ACCA’s practical experience requirement (PER) is completely transferable across organisations, sectors and geographical locations

Wherever you work in the world, as long as most of your time in your role(s) is spent on activities and tasks related to accounting, finance, audit and assurance, or other related technical areas such as taxation, insolvency, and forensic accounting, all of this can still count towards your 36 months’ practical experience.

Further information on PER