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Key Steps in Preparing for an International Job
How to prepare for an International Job
Off to a new international job? There are many things to prepare before you go.
Gone are the halcyon days when "road warriors" and consultants had secretaries for their executive assistants and assistants for their secretaries.
Today, somehow, the folks at the sharp end book their own flights and look for their own accommodation. And if you work for yourself, you'll be booking flights on the way to the airport and cell phoning a hotel at the airport!
Sometimes, you forget that what you hope will be true is not the same as the reality awaiting you at the other end! There are all kinds of things you need to consider before you fire up your engines for the next task...and, then, more to follow once you're on the road.
Are you interested in working internationally?
1. Get a Signed Contract
A signed contract. Don't leave home without it! Unless you are in sales, travelling on speculation is not smart. You need to have a legal paper in your possession stating clearly the work to be done, the resources provided and the remuneration for the work including allowances and other benefits.
Maybe, you are very trusting. But imagine yourself spending thousands of dollars to go to this assignment and find out when you arrive there that you don't have it. And because there is no contract, they are not legally bound to pay your expenses. So you are out of job and out of pocket as well.
Ascertain the amount for air travel and accommodation. If the assignment is willing to pay only for an economy ticket, then find out your options at this level. This is true of accommodation as well.
It is good to know how much living allowance you are entitled to before you book a hotel or rent a place. If you will be in one location for a while, book the hotel for one week and then look for other lodging. You will get amazing savings and you can get a kitchen and laundry, too.
2. Prepare Documents for your international job posting
Make sure your documents are valid. Check for expiry as well. Countries have different requirements so check it out online.
Check pages of your passports to ensure you have enough for when you decide to travel in countries other than where you're going. Some countries need a page for the visa. Each time you renew, they'll need another page. Sometimes you can get a visa upon entry, only for a month or 3 at most and then this will be renewed so make sure you have several blank pages in your passport.
Always get business visas when these are available. Check on the country website and make sure you know! Often, in countries where you don't need a visa to travel, you will need a visa to work. If you are close to an embassy of the country you are going to, it is better to get a visa right there. While airport visas avoid the complexity of going to embassies when you don't live close to one, they can be a hassle upon arrival as most passengers are also lining up to get a regular visa and you are the odd person out. If you have to, prepare the required documentation such as pictures.
Sometimes, they may ask for a letter from your employer stating your assignment in the country and also your address when you are in the country.
Always have 2 passport size photos with you when you are travelling. These are cheap to get in some countries so get more when you happen to be there. In some, you pay less than a dollar. In others, you have to cough up $11. If you have a family of 4, this can be quite a hole in your budget.
Store back-up copies of documents
Get yourself a data storage with large capacity. You can store most of your data and documents. In fact, it is better to have two of these as you need to back up important files and documents.
Aside from your passports, there are many other documents you need to have a back up of so in case you need it, you have it in hand. You'll never know what they'll require.
Once, for visas, the Ministry we worked for needed our marriage license to show that accompanying spouses are really their legal partners. Other times, hotels will want your marriage licenses to allow you to share a room.
Sometimes, they have requirements for longer stay than for tourism visits so be ready. Vaccination records are also needed in some countries.
If you are bringing your family and you have kids, you need all their health records, school records in addition to passports and visas.
Prepare for your international job adequately
3. Know all you can about the assignment
Have a clear idea of the terms of reference (TORS) so that you can negotiate the items you are not comfortable with. If you think that there are some areas you don't have the skills in, bring it up so they get the support needed. If its data, check for websites BEFORE you leave home.
Make sure your implementation requirements are budgeted like for example, there is some local travel money if you are going between work sites. Look for travel allowances if you will be delivering your work in different cities. If there are materials you require, make sure there is a budget for it. If you need to have workshops, get to see how much is allocated.
Read what the country requires of expats who work there and their families as well.
Prepare an envelope for all the requirements and start filing relevant information.
Make sure you have a camera to document your work
You can take pictures and videos not only to send to your family and friends but also to jazz up your reports. Make sure you have pictures of the important pages of your passport, id's, visas and other documents.
Don't foget to take pictures of your suitcases so when they fail to arrive with you, just show the pictures to those in the airlines in charge of looking for them.
Location of International Assignment
4. Determine location of your work
Find out where you will work. What could be more irritating than driving in the midst of traffic for two hours, morning and afternoon, to reach your place of meeting or work? This gets more serious if you have already signed a lease on the place you have decided to stay. Unless, of course, when everything else other than work is in the place you have chosen to stay in. Then, you make some compromises. Groceries, restaurants, schools, parks, safety and key amenities are important consideration depending on your requirements.
Even if you have a car, choosing a place closer to work reduces the stress of every day. It is better to first stay at a hotel and look for a more appropriate accommodation once you arrive in the place.
Test out the area before you sign the lease to living accommodation
Wherever you're going, bring a set of international chargers
Make sure you have the right one for the country you are going. Of course, you can get all these in those countries but if you want to be working immediately, then bring your own. Get a universal one that will work in several places and for several electronics.
5. Arrange for International Insurance
Buy peace of mind
This is often given free by the contracting company or given as an option to purchase from their own provider. This is a must. And don't think only of medical insurance. Think about evacuation. Many things can happen no matter how short your stay is. Check the coverage.
Read those tiny boring lines even if you have to use a magnifier. In long stays where your insurance is paid for and not that of your family, sometimes, it is cheaper to buy it in the country you are assigned. Their classification of the country might be cheaper than your own. Ask around. International SOS is big in many countries and reliable, too.
Family in International Posting
6. Know and take care of family requirements
When you are on long work assignment in a particular place, it is good to have your family with you, It can get lonely. There are now many schools in many developing countries that are at par with the schools your kids go to in your own country. Some are even better. This is true of health care as well. But make sure you try hard to make them happy or you will have a nightmare in your hands. So, look for international schools and other services your family requires.
In many countries, it is easy to get help so this can make life easier. Have breaks once in a while to a location they enjoy so life becomes more manageable.
7. Arrange your finance transactions
Make sure you have identified the best flow and transfer of money. Have a person in your home country you can trust to do some things for you. You might need to give this person power of attorney for some things. Most things you can now do online.
We always ask the bank to give us one person with whom we can communicate when we have issues regarding finance. Also, how we can easily transfer money or ask for some finance transactions to be done on our behalf. We find it easier to work with our bank in our own country, send the pay there and use the ATM and credit cards wherever we are. Develop a good relationship with your bank. It makes it easier.
8. Bring your own library
It is not uncommon in the countries we go to not to find the books we desire. We used to bring suitcases of books as we are avid readers but carrying them makes us unable to bring other things which we also enjoy.
These days you have choices of Kindle and other netbooks. They are easy to carry and allows you to get the more recent books. This is what we use now when we are travelling and it lightens up our carry on and enables us to bring food we like and can't get in other countries.
Here's help in transitioning to your new international job
You can only prepare so much but whatever you can arrange and do before you go will make for a smooth transition to your new work and location.