The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Considering Jobs Abroad

Research and communication should be prioritized

By John Ghanotakis, Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan

Traveling for work or pleasure often throws up a variety of questions, from choice of flights, to budget, accommodations, and timing. These dilemmas pale in significance, however, when the travel is in connection with mid- to long-term relocation.

Many members of the Young Professionals Group Subcommittee have been presented with the opportunity to relocate overseas for an assignment. In fact, taking a chance on such an opening is what brought many of us to Japan. The following three points are worth considering when contemplating a move abroad.

1. Ignorance is not always bliss
When considering a foreign destination, people’s ideas of that country often are colored by rose-tinted memories of happy holidays, whether experienced first hand or vicariously through the stories of others.

Conversely, those contemplating relocation may have a biased view of a country based on sensationalist media reports or sources with an agenda. In the vast majority of cases, the truth lies somewhere in between. It is, therefore, essential to do your homework and learn as much as you can about the place you are considering.

Remember to do your research not only on the country, but also on the city where you will be based. In many countries, especially in the developing world, there is a huge contrast between rural and city living, and important factors such as safety, cleanliness, access to conveniences, and costs can vary greatly from city to city.

The simple advice when searching for information is that you should never rely on one source; use your common sense and pick a variety of sources.

If you have friends or contacts that have lived there (not just visited on a holiday), ask for advice and tips.

Typing a country or city name into an Internet search engine, followed by the keywords “dirty,” “expensive,” or “dangerous,” will often highlight negative points, while the words “beautiful,” “cheap,” or “safe” will bring up positive aspects.

Employing such strategies will not only allow you to make an informed decision, but will also make your transition easier when you finally arrive at the destination.

2. When in Rome …
As the saying suggests, you will have to adapt to your new work environment. An entitlement mentality will not go down well with your new office or colleagues.

While some work environments may seem similar at first, especially within the same company, the reality is that each country impresses its culture onto the office environment.

To give yourself the best chance of adapting quickly and successfully, you should speak with colleagues at the new posting prior to arrival. If possible, take a preview trip to the site before accepting the job, and socialize with potential coworkers outside the office.

If the role being considered involves a new company, it is even more important to make this personal time before starting work. Keep in mind that a good hiring manager often will—and should—make arrangements during the final round of interviews to take you out socially.

If it is a new job and you have used an agent, really push them for information, background, and history concerning the company. Before accepting the position, make sure you are up to the challenge and will be able to adapt.

3. No one is an island
Even if you are happy with both the country and workplace, make sure you weigh all factors in your decision to move, particularly if other people in your life will be affected. Share what you know about the place with family and friends to ensure you take their opinions into account.

This is vital when children are involved, or if health issues may arise with loved ones. Discuss best- and worst-case scenarios for schooling and healthcare in particular, and ensure you have a workable action plan.

For many of these personal issues, a relocation service can help, but there is no substitute for your own research and planning.






John Ghanotakis (chair), Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan (vice chairs) are members of the ACCJ Young Professionals Group Subcommittee.