The future of work belongs to the globally curious.
By now you’ve seen the news: the robots are coming to take your jobs. In 2016, the World Economic Forum announced that by 2020, 5 million jobs will be lost as advances in artificial intelligence and robotics replace human workers. However, 2 million jobs will be created. Where you land in the future depends on how you prepare.
For graduates and young professionals, career stability is not guaranteed. Your university degree won’t be you final educational experience. The company you work for now or just after college won’t be your forever company. Expect to change jobs frequently. Expect to diversify your career. Instead of choosing one subject of expertise for your life, you’ll be expected to learn more and develop new skills in every role. The workforce and companies are changing, fast.
Fortunately international students and globally minded professionals are best positioned to adapt to the future of work. Living abroad takes you outside your comfort zone. It challenges you to see the world through different eyes and observe new systems. International experiences introduce you to creative solutions. You build confidence in unfamiliar situations. You learn to adapt to new behaviors and questions the status quo.
These experiences are the foundation of your global career. They prepare you to create a flexible career, where you can adapt to the fast-changing nature of work. Your experience navigating other cultures helps you navigate changing career paths that are filled with ambiguity. The next step in your international experience is simply learning how to navigate a global career, step by step.
The path from an international job search to a global career
An international job can be:
- A job outside your home country
- A job with an organization based in your home country but doing business with a market outside of the your home country
- A job in a 1 or 2 yr global rotation at an multi-national company or NGO
- A job where you interact with people from other cultures and countries daily
- A job where you build products, provide services, or create content for markets outside your home country
- Any combination of the points above
A global career is a collection of international jobs. In a global career you build influence, skills, and experience over time, without geographic limitations. Just as you aren’t limited by one location, you aren’t limited by the type of company or industry. You could work for an international startup in your first job and a multinational company in the job after. Global careers are full of flexibility.
Every global career starts with an international search. Whether it’s a search for an internship, project, or full time job, the search is an adventure similar to your academic experience abroad. You’ll meet new people. You’ll try new experiences. You’ll learn how to adapt to new systems and expectations.
With each new opportunity you get, you build skills for the next step in your career. Sometimes the next step is clear. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you take breaks to reskill or try new things as new jobs are invented and companies adapt to new technologies. As you cross borders, diverse experiences will lead to changing interests that will shape your global career in ways you haven’t imagined yet.
You need more than just a resume and cover letter to succeed in an international job search. To accomplish your global career goals, you need to:
Employers want candidates with this combination: tech skills +soft skills. Tech skills are the hard skills which include data analysis, programming, or IT skills. For scientists, your ability to measure and test and work with statistics, are hard skills. Soft skills are your ability to work effectively, build relationships, and communicate information with people across cultures, teams, and departments. Soft skills are harder to develop and take longer to master. Those who master both are the most in-demand among global employers.
Embrace a Growth Mindset
In a global career the learning doesn’t stop after graduation. Whether you’re learning a new language, systems, culture or technology, a global career requires you to upskill. You need to consistently identify training and projects to keep your skills current and competitive. Employees with growth-mindset are curious about their work. They grow their skillset on the job by identifying resources like online training and new projects. They propose new ideas and solutions to management. A growth-mindset helps you identify new opportunities in the job search and position yourself for them.
What trends have the biggest impact in your target industry? What are you reading that keeps you up to date with the latest news about your industry? What’s the most creative thing you’ve done recently? Employers want job seekers who have opinions about the future and think creatively about their work. To stand out in the job search, you must think creatively about how you present yourself for the role you want.
Professional networks are the foundation of a global career. To succeed in your international job search you need professional relationships so people get to know your work interests and goals. When you engage with people across cultures, workplaces, and ages, you gain valuable perspective. In turn, people learn more about you and are more willing to share opportunities with you.
Understand the systems
Each company has its own method of discovering talent and hiring workers. These systems, vary by company, team, and even country. Your goal is to learn as much as possible about these systems and how to work within them. From work visas to employer expectations, paying attention to how systems work together, and how you can work within those systems, gives you the insight you need to find jobs across borders.
Communicate your value
Employers hire candidates who can articulate their value to the company. They want leaders, communicators, and creative thinkers. As an international job seeker you need to talk about your ideas and experiences with future employers. Through personal websites, LinkedIn, professional relationships, and telling your professional story, you can communicate your career goals and the value you bring to any employer.