Considering overseas contracting jobs? Consider this: opportunities are on the rise but as a security cleared professional you’ll want to keep a few considerations in mind as you make your decision.
Overseas contracting isn’t for everyone. There are definite negatives to consider with the positives, and it’s important not to get overcome by romantic notions of what overseas employment might look like, or think you’re going to cash in when it’s not certain you will. But if you have a sense of adventure, the ability to do more with less, and are up for a challenge, a job abroad may be a great fit for you.
Overseas security clearance jobs in information technology, logistics, intelligence, training and security have significantly increased over the past decade, particularly in countries such as Germany, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
We live in a world that is increasingly international, and having international experience on your resume is definitely an advantage. Whether you’re just starting your career or you’re a seasoned professional, international experience will help you stand out in the crowd. As you consider the possibilities, however, you’ll want to keep a few factors in mind.
#1 Be prepared to do more with less.
Budgets and spending in international offices are frequently far below what you might be used to. This certainly presents opportunities for creativity and innovation, but may produce challenges if you’re used to working through projects with a robust team of experts and unlimited resources. Get an idea of what will be available before you go abroad. Also, take advantage of the opportunity to learn from your international counterparts. Their way of working may be different, but you’ll likely learn a trick or two you can take back to the States.
#2: Know the language.
In the intelligence and security fields linguists, particularly those with a background in middle eastern languages, are always in demand. But even if your language looks more like 1s and 0s be sure to brush up on the local lingo. Cultural mores can be equally as important, so don’t forget to research local and regional etiquette and history.
#3 Keep time in mind.
Most overseas contracting positions are temporary, term positions of 6 months to one year. Others don’t have end date stipulations. Either way, plan ahead for how long you’d like to spend overseas. This is particularly important for mid-to-high level professionals who are going overseas and leaving family behind.
#4 Consider your health.
While many overseas locations offer great healthcare or comparable care to what you receive in the states, many do not. Make sure you’re physically prepared for the medical capabilities of the country you’re traveling to. This isn’t to say every overseas worker needs to be in Navy Seals shape – there are plenty of overseas positions for cleared candidates that don’t require a physical training test.
#5 Think outside the (sand)box.
While we know that a number of defense contractors offer overseas positions in support of deployed soldiers, not all overseas positions are combat related. Don’t assume the only way to get a job overseas is to head to a war zone. Europe, Latin America, Africa and other locations all offer job opportunities.
#6 Avoid complicating entanglements.
If you’re going overseas into a cleared position you’ll want to avoid making foreign investments, picking up extra work from a local business or finding a spouse in the country you’re working in. There are exceptions (and who is the U.S. Government to stand in the way of true love?), but one must be very cautious to make sure that they’re not “going native” while working abroad. This advice becomes even more important if you are a worker with an inactive clearance accepting a position that doesn’t require one. Be especially careful to keep your actions above board in case a future position requires your clearance.
#7 Do your math carefully.
While most comparable positions overseas pay more, that’s not always the case. Don’t assume financial perks that may not actually present themselves and carefully consider cost of living, the value of the dollar, and make sure lost-of-living allowances calculate. Don’t be afraid to renegotiate for benefits or bonuses to make up for travel or housing.
#8 Go legitimate.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have increased international contract opportunities, and with an increase in volume comes a rise in the number of companies with international positions. Be sure to research any company you’re working for to make sure they’re the right fit. And be sure you use a credible job search website such as ClearanceJobs, designed only for security cleared professionals and registered employers.
Once you’ve considered all of the factors, the only thing left to do is to pack you bags…and don’t forget your toothbrush.