Are you considering working abroad? Daniel Griggs heads up the international division at global recruitment consultancy Beresford Blake Thomas. Here, he offers some top tips
The idea of living and working abroad is one that has passed through the minds of many people, albeit fleetingly, at some point in their career. Whether it entails working on a flyover project in Abu Dhabi, erecting bridges in Canada, constructing a shopping centre in Australia or designing waste water infrastructure in Africa, the opportunities are widespread and varied enough to find something for everyone. And because of the current demand for technical professionals in many parts of the world, now is the perfect time to make your dream a reality.

There is no doubt, however, that working overseas is a huge step. Despite the great benefits on offer, in terms of both financial remuneration and lifestyle improvements, there are many things to consider before taking up the challenge to ensure that it really does turn into a positive experience.

  • How long do you want to go for?
    Depending on your aspirations, skills, profession and experience you may intend to make the move permanent, or you may only wish to work on a short-term contract and then transfer to a different job in another location in six months' time.

  • Where would you like to go?
    For some people the destination is already obvious, but for others there may be a few options to consider. Whatever the situation, research and planning are key at this early stage. No matter the length of the assignment, it is essential that you familiarise yourself with the country before you go by searching the internet, reading country-specific books and if possible speaking to people who have worked there. If you are intending to make a permanent move I'd strongly advise that you visit the country on an extended holiday prior to application for residency, in order to gain an insight into the culture and lifestyle. In fact, many immigration departments will insist on seeing evidence of your commitment to their country.

  • How will this affect your personal life?
    Think seriously about the impact of the move on your personal life and the implications for your family. Will your partner be able to find employment and will work permit regulations allow them to? Investigate the cost and standards of childcare, education and healthcare. Consider the political stability of the country you are moving to. Is safety a concern? Can you abide by the laws of the land? For instance in Saudi Arabia the religious laws – regarding drinking alcohol, Western women's dress and other Islamic taboos – are a problem for many potential ex-pats. How will you cope with the climate? Moving to a country with a different weather pattern to ours may sound ideal, but the reality may be somewhat different when you endure very high or low temperatures, often with no respite. And consider practical issues that could affect your ability to work – do you speak enough of the language in order to cope?

  • How difficult is it to find work?
    Finding employment overseas can be a challenge when you are not resident out there and are unfamiliar with that country's construction industry. Although it is possible to find work independently, most people find it easier to register with an international recruitment agency who can provide you with advice and support. Recruitment consultants can advise on work permits and entry requirements, professional registrations and lifestyle issues.

    Going to work abroad can be a life-changing experience and is not a decision to be made lightly. But once you work out what's right for you, you'll embark on a move that may not only enhance your career but also your quality of life.