Working overseas is more popular than ever, with a wide variety of contract and government positions to choose from. And with a military drawn down beginning in Afghanistan, leaders are asking even more civilians to consider overseas deployments.
While you might think it would be easy to get overseas positions, the number of individuals interested in them is also on the rise. From retired service members to retired businessmen looking for a little adventure and the opportunity to serve, there is competition, and for good reason. The perks for working overseas – including higher pay, opportunities to travel and valuable experience – all make it a good career move, even for security cleared professionals. With more global threats and challenges than every before, showing awareness of the world around you is certainly to your advantage.
Whether you’re applying for overseas positions or not, it’s a great idea to show a bit of international job experience on your resume. You might think it’s impossible, especially if your only trip to foreign lands was that family vacation to Alabama (just joking!). Fortunately for you there are a few tips for getting international job experience, without expensive plane tickets and battling airport security.
1. Join local cultural associations. Most countries or regions have cultural associations in major cities. If you have access, join a country or regional association for an area you’re interested in. It will provide opportunities to connect with other overseas-experienced individuals and increase your awareness of the country’s ins and outs. And networking is always valuable, regardless of where you’re at in your job search.
2. Learn a language. Linguists, particularly in high-demand regions, are always in demand. You’re not likely to get even moderate proficiency on your own, but spending just a big of time with a language learning program will show your desire to work once you’ve achieved an overseas job, and help you land on your feet once you get there.
3. Make friends. We’re not saying you should Facebook friend everyone you see who’s from Pakistan (we actually caution against that), but building friendships will provide a valuable knowledge base of issues overseas, as well as give you a greater understanding of the people you might be working with.
4. Work on international accounts or projects. If opportunities arise with your current company, take them – even if no international travel is required. An increasing number of companies hold international accounts, and even just being a part of the teams working on these projects will be valuable for your resume.
5. Get academic experience. Consider taking classes at a local college or university that will provide business or cultural awareness of the country you’re looking to work in. Highlight any academic experience you have on your resume as related coursework.
While considering all of these tips don’t forget to take the critical step of keeping your security clearance in mind. Whether traveling overseas or researching foreign countries here in the states, be sure to avoid foreign entanglements, obey American laws, and keep information security top priority. Having a security clearance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get overseas job experience, or dream of a job abroad, it just means you need to be smart when doing so.