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Advice for the International HR Job Seeker

February 24th, 2021

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Human resources professionals looking to go international should set their sights horizontally, says HR career columnist Martin Yate.

In his column for the Society for Human Resources Management, he recently addressed a question about job-searching internationally. It will take time and hard work, he counseled, but said that with the right focus it’s achievable.

His advice for job hunting internationally is much like what it would be for looking domestically. The target job, he said, should be one that:

  • "Your resume proves you can do."
  • "You can interview for well."
  • "You will be likely to succeed at."

Yate was answering a question from an HR leader in the banking industry in Malaysia. His advice, though, is applicable to any HR professional considering an overseas opportunity.

“Don't aim for a job that would be a promotion,” he advises. “Look for a job for which you already have required skills, probably very similar to the one you are doing now.”

In the case of the advice seeker, he noted that her goal was to relocate, not get a better job title.

For someone looking to stay with their company, but work overseas, the new position might be a step up, though not necessarily. Winning a promotion to an international assignment requires more than just being a skilled HR professional. An obvious consideration is how much the candidate understands of the culture and the workplace practices in the target country.

Making a lateral move while becoming comfortable with the local culture will set the stage for that promotion.

Yate’s job seeker is hoping to relocate to London, a world banking center where, he tells her, there are multinational organizations “very interested in your intimate knowledge of the Southeast Asia region, its customs and business practices, and how HR supports those business practices.”

That’s an equally important consideration for other international jobseekers: Choose an area where your industry knowledge, not just your HR competencies, offer a competitive advantage. Then, as Yate says, revise your resume and online profiles, to “focus on the skills and experiences your potential employers are looking for.”

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