The four key steps to landing your dream career abroad

If you have talent and want to live an international life, the world really is your oyster nowadays. Maybe your goal is to become an entrepreneur with a location independent business, fully comfortable flitting across cultures and conversing in multiple languages?

Published: Tue 5 Sep 2023 10:41 CEST
The four key steps to landing your dream career abroad
Colleagues celebrating shared success. Photo: Getty Images

Or perhaps you scour the jobs pages in amazement at the new degree of flexibility you could be granted even in a senior full-time position at a top company?

Whatever your dream career looks like, the path to the top can be treacherous, so what steps should you take to give yourself a firmer footing? In partnership with telecommunications provider Zadarma, The Local presents four ideas.

Get out of your comfort zone – now!

Whether your vision of success depends on convincing others to promote you or carving out your own path as an entrepreneur, consciously stepping out of your comfort zone is key.

If you find the idea daunting, you’re hardly alone. But think of it this way: getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to expand your comfort zone – and thereby bring your long-term ambitions closer to reality. 

The longer you stay firmly in your comfort zone, on the other hand, the more chances to develop new skills and learn from confronting your fears will pass you by. Lack confidence in your public speaking skills? Volunteer to do an in-depth presentation. 

Feel your role doesn’t challenge you enough? Be proactive about asking for tougher tasks or showing some big picture thinking that could shake things up.

Just as getting a virtual phone number can help entrepreneurs break free of geographical limits on their business, getting experience outside your comfort zone can help you break free of your own mental constraints.

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Find an ‘accountability partner’ to help you grow

Whatever getting out of your comfort zone means for you, there’s bound to be a temptation to eventually withdraw back to what feels easier. To resist this urge, focus on taking small measurable steps towards defined goals. 

One of the best ways to chart your progress and ensure you follow through with your vision when things get tough is to find an ‘accountability partner’. This could be a colleague, a friend, or a family member. But it can’t be just anyone. Your accountability partner should be someone you trust to help you keep improving in your career and as a person.

Ideally, it will be a two-way partnership based on mutual respect where you each have clear goals to work towards and each person mentors the other. The relationship should be structured with regular deadlines for both completing tasks and providing feedback.

Being accountable to someone else you trust can play a huge role in keeping you motivated and enabling you to create good habits. Over time, simply maintaining the habit of practising something challenging can lead to vast improvements in both end results and your confidence to try new things.

Make where you work irrelevant to your productivity

If 2020 was the year when working from home became the new norm for millions, could 2023 be the year this revolution fell flat? A host of major companies have ordered staff to return to the office for at least part of the week. Even Zoom – which became a household name thanks to mass remote working – has done it!

The trend follows research by Stanford University suggesting that productivity is lower among those who work from home. This contradicts previous studies – much publicised since the start of the pandemic – suggesting that remote work may raise productivity.

So what can you be sure of? Two things. One, it’s a complicated picture and amid uncertainty, many big employers are turning away from fully remote working. 

Fancy a 'workcation'? Photo: Getty Images

Two, ensuring your personal productivity is consistently high whether you’re in an office, at home or enjoying a majestic natural setting on a ‘workcation’ could make you stand out.

Adaptability is crucial today and likely to be even more so in future. How to achieve this is a personal question; from microtasking to meditation, find the tools and techniques that work for you in terms of blocking out distractions and getting things done.

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Know and be true to your values 

Many businesses today (certainly start-ups but also some older firms) are putting increased emphasis on their values and recruiting employees who are a good ‘cultural fit’. But from the outside, it’s difficult to be sure how strongly such values are adhered to.

What’s more, you don’t want prospective employers to define which values you should hold and find yourself scrambling to convince them you’re worthy of consideration. You’re better than that. 

To really know and be true to your values, think them through thoroughly when designing your CV or writing your business plan. 

Mapping out your main values and ranking them will give you greater clarity of mind, so you can avoid waffling inspidly in interviews or meetings with angel investors. Many values overlap. But mapping out what matters most to you and then critically researching the culture of different organisations can help you get ahead in understanding which ones really are a good fit for you.

One leadership coach and author recommends flipping the ‘behavioural interviewing’ technique used by companies like Google to better understand the behaviour and values of a potential employer. To create the future you want, don’t let interviews be a one-way street. Be bold in asking questions to work out whether you really do share core values – and challenge the other side to develop a shared vision of what the future might hold.

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