Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What countries want to hire me?

A few months into the job search process, I guess now I have a clearer picture of how different countries view potential employees when it comes to work permits and relocations. Some hard truths:
  • the expat rush is over: companies are no longer excited about flocking in hords of outrageously expensive foreign workers (maybe apart from the top executive range) and prefer to grow local talent;
  • if you are a talented graduate with high potential, the color of your passport is irrelevant.
These two statements might sound contradictory but they are not. Companies clearly distinguish between two different pools of candidates: performers and HiPos. Performers are needed as they form the bulk of the company, the so-called "solid citizens". HiPos are the future senior managers, the blue blood and white bone of the organization, the small proportion of the workforce intended to deliver the disproportionate share of the value. If you look at job ads for regular "performer positions", you will see phrases like "Apply to a location where you already have a work authorization. This is an absolute requirement." or "Only nationals of xxx should apply". As you read descriptions of leadership development/management programs, you will not find such statements. The reason for that is quite simple - companies that want to grow global leaders want you to move around and gain as much international experience as possible, so for them it actually makes little difference where you start and what sort of visa support you require.

Well, to be fair, there are countries that are much laxer of their entry requirements and issuing work permits, while for others that might be an issue. In many countries, companies will be allocated a certain quota on how many non-nationals they may have per year, and you won´t have any problems getting there as long as that number is not exceeded, but others have much stricter requirements:
  • Africa: easiest thing to get in is with one of the oil&gas or mining company. South Africa is the nicest places but also of of the toughest to get into because of their BEE legislation. Not sure if you want ot be in North Africa at the moment.
  • Europe: regardless of the Blue Card initiative, the governments are still very protective of their local workforce, especially if it is one of the PIGS countries.
  • Asia: China is attractive for those in search of global career, but knowledge of Mandarin is often a prerequisite. India is relatively easy to get into, but only for specific industries and you will be competing with large pools of talented Indians who have the local knowledge and are willing to work for less money.
  • Australoasia: lucrative place to work - great climate and awesome people, but so far that the employers are mostly focusing on the local market.
  • North America: after the most recent crisis has become extremely protective of its own laborforce. You will only get in if you are a hi-tech guru with business education (example), i.e. a future Steve Jobs. Canada is more flexible on granting work permits and has special points-based programs for skilled labor (http://www.canadaworkpermit.com/).
  • South America: forget about a job if you do not know someone personally there... ideally the president of the country or his son/daughter/cousin/etc. People do not want to have phone or Skype interviews and are rather unwilling to engage into any form of communication unless you are physically present in those countries.
  • Antarctica: the penguines and polar bears will be thrilled to have you over.
We´ll see where I´ll end up in a month´s time - maybe this blogpost will need updating then :)

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