Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Universal Candidate

 “The key to becoming internationally employable is an open mind – you need to be ready to accept different cultures and to prove that your personality is able to adjust to what is likely to be a very challenging disruption to your usual way of life.“
Alison J. Morgan, Director, Global Recruitment Solutions (UK) Ltd.
Specialised global recruitment agency

Of the 21,950 expats surveyed in our latest Expat Explorer report, more than 10,000 moved because of their careers. So if you’re looking for a job abroad – you’re in good company.

But finding work overseas can be tough. It is important to remember that your pool of competition expands to the entire planet - not just your local area. To stand out in a crowd of worthy candidates, you need to ensure that your CV is the best it can be by globalising your employability. You need to maximise your international desirability so employers are eager to hire you, regardless of where you’re from.

Be careful not to suffer from tunnel vision when putting together your portfolio for applications abroad – work experience is not the single defining characteristic. A number of factors come into play including personality, enthusiasm, a track record of hard work and a willingness to adapt to foreign cultures. Employers will be looking for a candidate with the perfect character match just as much as (if not more than) a candidate with all the right skills.

Creative Commons | Unsplash

Some crucial characteristics include the ability to demonstrate a mature open-mindedness towards embracing new cultures, as well as being ready to enter a new country with a clean slate. You mustn’t base expectations on your place of origin – especially in a new business environment. Employers will be wary of importing staff they think might clash with their current team. Being a ‘cultural chameleon’ is probably the most valuable skill to have when considering a life abroad.

Digging a little deeper into the specification of the ideal global recruit – the feature which stands above the rest is adaptability. You must be able to make any zone your comfort zone regardless of country, culture or language. Of course language may prove to be a barrier at first so employers will be looking for applicants who won’t be fazed by such a challenge, whilst also providing the assurance that learning the language will be made a priority upon arrival. The perfect candidate will be able to communicate their thoughts and ideas through a variety of intuitive visual and interactive mediums.

67% of expats who moved to improve their job prospects now have more disposable income.
-          Expat Explorer Survey Results

Naturally it is also important to be able to back up your application with a CV that represents a wealth of experience in the field that you’re applying for. You need to persuade someone that bringing you into their business from a different country is the best option– if your skills and professional experiences tick every box of the criteria for their role you’ll already have one foot in the door. All that’s left to do is prove that you’re able to apply those skills in a fresh cultural setting. 

Creative Commons | Pexels

Experience of travelling around other countries will stand you in good stead when promoting yourself as a universally desirable candidate. The ability to say that you’ve already worked in another country is second to none. Even demonstrating that you’ve travelled around the world and experienced different ways of life will show that the process of adopting a new culture won’t take so long, because you already have an enlightened perspective of the world.

If you can’t support up your application with international experiences then give examples of when you’ve been able to adapt to new environments or places of work. Perhaps you moved away from home to work in a new city, or maybe you went through an interesting career change.

Ultimately, to become internationally employable you need to show that your personality and skill set is not confined to the borders of your home country. Once you are able to do this, you will be ready for the process of finding the right location to start your new life abroad.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Guest blogger series: Introducing… Allison Furlong

My new Middle Eastern routine

I left the cool shores of Canada for hot and sandy Doha, Qatar in January, 2014. Nearing two years in the Middle East, I thought it would be a great time to reflect on some of the changes that, while seemingly different in the beginning, have now become routine while being an expat in the Middle East.

C’mon Thursday

Friday is the Muslim day of prayer, meaning the weekend begins on Thursday evening, consisting of Friday and Saturday, returning to work on Sunday. When you spend your whole life adhering to a different weekend, it initially plays havoc on your brain. You start mixing up the days of the week when telling stories, booking appointments, etc. I’m now happy to report that I think my brain has now adapted to the change (but it takes a while).

9 am? That’s sleeping in

Back home, the majority of people stroll into the office around 8:30 or 9. But in Qatar, most are awake before the call to prayer at sunrise (around 5:30am this time of year). What does this mean for expats? Everything starts earlier. Rush hour begins around 6 am and I’m sitting at my desk by 7:30.

Cold shower, how I miss thee

Most water in the Middle East is desalinated from the Arabian Gulf and then pumped into water storage tanks. Individual tanks are located on the top of buildings, warming in the desert sun. When you turn your cold water tap, it’s nearly always warm, and always piping hot in the summer. 

All the wonderful smells!

At home, most people skip perfume and scented products, with many workplaces being scent free. Here, wonderful aromas are part of the culture, not only celebrated but deemed mandatory in certain situations. I actually love the wonderful smell of wood chips burning (oud) filling malls, hallways and workplaces. And because it’s natural, you certainly won’t hear any sneezes from allergies.

Sand, sand, everywhere sand

I love going to the beach, desert and everywhere there’s sand! But sometimes it actually comes to you in your apartment. The air always has trace amounts of sand in it, meaning your floor, furniture and apartment sometimes has a fine layer of sand.


Broadly meaning “influence” or “clout”, wasta is a cultural phenomenon that controls many aspects of life in the Middle East. If you can’t be bothered to wait in line like the average person, just flex your wasta and sometimes magical things appear. While I don’t think I actually have wasta, a girl can dream.

Allison Furlong is originally from Newfoundland, Canada and is now living in Doha, Qatar. She regularly blogs about her exciting travels around the world and is always interested in hearing from other travelers and expats. To find out more about Allison’s adventures, subscribe to her blog – Where ya to – a wanderlust blog or follow her on Twitter @AllisonFurlong



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