Broadening your IT skills by working overseas

Set those itchy feet at ease while advancing your career

If the sight of bright-eyed backpackers sinking freckled toes into our sand and surf has you pining for an overseas adventure, perhaps it is time to join some 900,000 Australians who the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reports to be living and working overseas.

The attractions of expatriate living are many and varied. For some people, a working holiday is a ticket to seeing the world without breaking the bank. For others, overseas work can be a strategic move to expand their professional experience. And there are others yet for whom overseas tax rates and booming economies can be attractive financial incentives for working abroad.

"The career benefits of working overseas are endless - professional development, seeing the world, experiencing a different culture," said Allison Martin, marketing co-ordinator of non-profit working holiday organisation International Exchange Programs (IEP).

"There are many opportunities for Australians to expand their professional experience by working overseas, and there are numerous career benefits involved," she said. "Most employers look favourably on international work experience because it shows a willingness to push yourself outside your comfort zone and use your skills in a different environment."

Sean McCarten, IT Business Manager of global recruitment firm Manpower Professional, agrees that most employers will value relevant overseas experience. However, he warns, re-entering the Australian workforce might be no small feat.

IT professionals working overseas may suffer a loss of relevant local market knowledge, McCarten noted, that can only be earned by working in the legal or tax arena, with local accounting compliant systems or with IT-specific legislation.

Additionally, as work culture tends to play a large part when recruiting staff in Australia, it may take some time for new entrants into the Australian workforce to suitably acclimatise to local companies.

"My advice to anyone considering entering the workforce in a foreign country would be to research the conditions of work in that country, company, work culture and work ethic as part of their employment search," he said.

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