Thinking of Working Overseas? Here's Some Advice

December 29th, 2009

Hi All!

Below is a guest article contributed by Paul Johnson, Director of Outsourcing Consultants with 10 years experience of HR and recruitment within the Middle East. Author Website:

I thought it was something many of you Millennials (Gen Y) would find helpful as you begin to explore career opportunities. And, it’s certainly great info for people from ANY generation who is toying with the idea of working outside of the U.S.

So, without further delay, here is Paul’s article, entitled: Thinking of working overseas? Think, think and think again.

I am sure we have all thought it. Wouldn’t it be great to work away from our home country? New climate, new friends, more money (in some cases), get away from the humdrum life I lead now, experience new cultures etc, etc. Whatever the reasons, the grass is certainly not always greener on the other side. It takes time and not a small amount of perseverance and patience to make it work.

Take my experience. Back in 1998 my girlfriend (now wife) and I decided we needed a change from the UK. Dubai seemed like a good option as my wife had lived there with her parents in the mid 70’s. Being the days when the internet was something to do with fishing together or a goal in football the communication with prospective agencies and employers was by no means easy. Many calls and faxes ensued until eventually we both, miraculously landed jobs in Dubai starting 2 weeks apart.

Arriving in Dubai was a massive culture shock, especially 11 years ago even though I had travelled the world extensively. People from all over the globe were resident there especially from South East Asia. Everything was different from needing a UAE driving license to driving on the other side of the road!! The bureaucracy to do anything was immense and very frustrating. After 2 months we were reeling and wondering what on earth we had done! Shall we give it until Christmas (two months away)? Shall we leave now? Many questions and uncertainties. We were told by new friends, many of whom were long term expats, to give it 6 months, we did.

To cut a long story short we stuck it out and are still here 11 years later with 2 kids in tow! Dubai is not perfect by any means but where is?

My advice to anyone thinking of taking the plunge is:

1. Be aware of a huge culture shock even if you are well travelled, living somewhere is a completely different world.

2. Be patient!

3. Become culturally aware as fact as possible and do not attempt in anyway to impose your culture on your new hosts, it will not work.

4. Give it 6 months to settle in or you will regret it.

5. Use any means at your disposal to connect with people living there, seek out the lowdown and dirty to the place first.

6. Take up your interests as early as possible to meet people, do not get trapped into the work, home sleep unhappy triad.

7. Do not limit your exposure to other expats from familiar cultures only.

8. Take every opportunity offered to you initially to socialise, be it camping trips, birthdays, whatever. Good luck!

Learn more about Paul at:

Bye for now! And Happy New Year!


Twitter @GenerationsGuru

NOTE: Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

4 Responses to “Thinking of Working Overseas? Here's Some Advice”

  1. Hello Lisa,

    I live in the Malaysian State of Sabah.

    There are a lot of people from other countries who had come here to work in order to improve their lot (most probably to survive). There are so many of them that they may not feel that they are out of place. Also, their culture is similar to a racial group in the state.

    Paul experienced culture shock. He is from UK and went to work in a middle-eastern country.

    I believe this happens every time an employee is transferred by his or her organization to another country where it has business operations.

    The difference is that employers can help the employees selected for assignment overseas whereas Paul and his wife have to do it on their own.

    It is good that Paul has shared his actual experience and has given some useful tips. Everyone who intends to seek job opportunities overseas will value this.

  2. […] international work opportunities provide the growing number of young professionals the advantage of distinguishing themselves from […]

  3. A good way to put your “toe in the water” regarding overseas work is a short-term working vacation of a few months duration. You have all the benefits of living and working overseas, but do not have to commit to a long-term, multi-year stay. My wife and I have lived overseas fourteen times, Australia to Zimbabwe, Mauritius to Mongolia, from two to eight months, never once giving up my regular day job and never once reaching into my own wallet. If you are a skilled professional with a marketable skill (say a doctor, lawyer, business person, engineer, scientist, artist, musician, etc.) why not consider a short-term working vacation in which a host country invites you to work/consult for them while covering all your travel and living expenses. Its a great way to live and work overseas on “The Other Guy’s Dime.” Check out my blog to learn how.

  4. Construction Recruitment in todays market are difficult to come by and this is made even more difficult given that future managers are becoming more difficult to satisfy. Personally, I think that the world markets should see substantial improvements within the next fivemonths and this should make the situation easier to handle.

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