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8 Key Tips in Preparing for an International Job

Updated on September 6, 2022
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My husband and I have worked on many international assignments and are very much aware of what one needs to do before you get on the plane.

How to prepare for an International Job

Off to a new international job? There are many things to prepare before you get on the plane. Gone are those halcyon days when "road warriors" and consultants like you had secretaries for their executive assistants and assistants for their secretaries.

Today, the folks at the sharp end somehow book their flights and look for accommodation. And if you work for yourself, you'll be booking flights on the way to the airport and cell phone a hotel. So, here are suggestions to get yourself ready for that international job.

  1. Get a signed contract.
  2. Know all you can about the assignment
  3. Prepare documents needed for the job
  4. Determine the location of your work and arrange for accommodation
  5. Arrange for international insurance
  6. Know and take care of family requirements
  7. Do a list of your must bring
  8. Arrange your finances

Preparing for an International Job
Preparing for an International Job | Source

Get a Signed Contract

A signed contract. Don't leave home without it! Unless you are in sales, travelling on speculation is not wise. You need to have a legal paper stating the work deliverables, the resources provided and the remuneration for the position, 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 a 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, find out your options at this level. This consideration is valid for housing as well.

Knowing how much living allowance you are entitled to before you book a hotel or rent a place is reasonable. If you will be in one location for a while, book the hotel for one week and then look for another lodging. You will get incredible savings, and you can get a kitchen and laundry, too.

Know the Assignment Well
Know the Assignment Well | Source

Know About the Assignment

Have a clear idea of the terms of reference (TORS), so you can negotiate the items about which you have reservations. If you think that you don't have the skills in some areas, bring them up to get the support needed. If it's data, check for websites BEFORE you leave home.

Ensure your implementation requirements are stated clearly in the budget. For example, there is some local travel money going between work sites. Look for travel allowances if you deliver your work in different cities. If there are materials you require, make sure there is a budget for them. If you need to have workshops, see how much the allocation is.

Read what the country requires of ex-pats who work there and their families.
Prepare an envelope for all the requirements and start filing relevant information.

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International work
International work | Source

Prepare Documents for 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 to 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 three at most and then renewal, 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, you will need a visa to work in countries where you don't need a visa to travel. If you are close to an embassy in 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. Most passengers are lining up to get a regular visa, and you are the odd person. 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 two passport-size photos with you when you are travelling. These are cheap to get in some countries, so get more when you are 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.

Aside from your passports, there are many other documents you need to have a backup of, so if you need them, you have them 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 their legal partners. Hotels will also want your marriage licenses to allow you to share a room.

Sometimes, they have requirements for a more extended stay than for tourism visits, so be ready. Some countries also ask for vaccination records. These days, many countries request Covid vaccination records at entry.

If you are bringing your family and have kids, you need all their health records, school records, passports and visas.

Determine Location of Work

Find out where you will work. What could be more irritating than driving amid traffic for two hours, morning and afternoon, to reach your place of meeting or work?

This knowledge gets more critical if you have already signed a lease on where you have decided to stay. Unless, of course, when everything else other than work is in the area you have chosen to stay in. Then, you make some compromises. Groceries, restaurants, schools, parks, safety and necessary amenities are important considerations 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 stay at a hotel and look for more appropriate accommodation once you arrive.

Location of work
Location of work | Source

Arrange for International Insurance

Buy peace of mind

Insurance is often given free by the contracting company or offered as an option to purchase from their provider. Insurance 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 extended stays where your insurance is paid for and not that of your family, it is sometimes cheaper to buy it in the country where you are signed. Their classification of the country might be more affordable than our own. International SOS is prominent in many countries and reliable, too.

Take Care of Family Requirements

When you are on an extended work assignment in a particular place, it is good to have your family with you. It can get lonely.

There are now schools in developing countries that are at par with the ones your kids currently attend. Some are even better. This development is true of health care as well. But make sure you try hard to make them happy, or you will have a nightmare on 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.

International work  Location
International work Location | Source

List your Must Bring

Make this list so you don't regret not bringing something you need. This lapse is alarming when you can't find the exact one you like in your country of assignment.

If you have a free room in your house, it is better to start putting them there so you get these ready for packing.

It is common in the countries we go 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 get other things which we also enjoy.

These days you have choices of Kindle and other tablets. They are easy to carry and allow you to get the more recent books. A Kindle 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 to other countries.

Arrange your Finances

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 we can communicate with when we have issues regarding finance, and also how we can quickly 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 more accessible.

Here's help in transitioning to your new international job

A Thought to Always Remember

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.

But the more you have prepared, the better able you are to meet the challenges of a new place, a new work environment and new bosses.

Know that you can only do so much

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. Once you're on the ground, relax. There is always a solution to every problem. Be pleasant but be firm. Get the best deal you can.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Mary Norton


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