When looking overseas

Published: 24 Apr 2015

Mark, who is chairman of global recruitment company Frontier International, has also worked in China and several countries in the Middle East and South East Asia.

He said: “Whilst it’s not unusual for those within the oil and gas industry to work overseas, it’s not for everyone. However, the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of North Sea activity means that some of us may now begin to consider a move abroad. It’s not something to be taken lightly, but by taking the time to research and ensure it’s the right move for you, a spell overseas can pay huge dividends.”

Here’s Mark’s guide to making the move abroad a lot smoother:

Getting everyone on board 

One of the most common reasons a move overseas fails is a family member that’s unhappy with the situation. It sounds obvious, but before you even consider applying for an overseas position, speak to your spouse/partner and family. This helps rule out any panic moves on your part and also ensures that your family buys into the idea of you (and potentially them) moving away from home. If everyone’s on board, the inevitable stress that comes with a relocation is much easier to cope with.

Where are you going?

Of course, there is often the choice between rotational work and moving the whole family. Whichever option you look into, there are a few guidelines that will help the whole process run smoothly: 

Work out where you don’t want to work.

Do your research on each country you’re even slightly interested in. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website is an invaluable source of information on in-country security and culture. Don’t forget your pre-conceptions about certain areas or companies may turn out to be misconceptions. Once you’ve applied, take your research to an even deeper level – try to speak to someone who’s worked in that area before.

As well as looking at job sites for potential opportunities – don’t be afraid to ask about transfer opportunities with your current employer. Either way, it’s fundamental not to move overseas unless it’s for a job you really want. The whole experience could be ruined otherwise. 

Once you’ve had an offer

Even once you’ve received a job offer, there are still plenty of things to consider before you accept:
Don’t accept a contract for anything less than 6-12 months and always ensure that there is the potential to extend that time period. 
Most oil and gas companies will offer you the chance to visit your destination country – make sure you take that opportunity. It will help set your mind at rest, whatever your final decision.
What is the cost of living? It could be cheaper than home, but it could equally be double the price.
Check your wage currency too – if it’s not sterling, who takes the exchange rate risk, you or your employer?
What’s included in your package? Relocation allowances, accommodation, furniture (if not, will there be a shipping allowance?), in-country transport, flights home, local R&R?
If your family is of school age, don’t forget that the existence of an international school in your new location isn’t enough – they need to have places available. This may have an impact on when your contract begins/when your family can join you.

Once you’re there

First up, go with the right attitude. Wherever you are heading, it’s not going to be the same as home – so don’t expect it to be.
Learn all you can about the local culture and be sensitive to it, to avoid potential pitfalls – it’s well known that this is particularly relevant regarding how women can dress/act in certain cultures.
Don’t look down on the locals – some expats do, generally to the detriment of their overseas experience. 
Make sure you try to learn some of the local language – a “please” and “thank you” as a minimum can go a long way.
Take advantage of any recreation opportunities that you just wouldn’t have in the UK. Broaden your horizons and make sure you get something extra from this experience.
Make sure you get in touch with the local expat community – it’s an invaluable source of advice and support when you make that first move abroad. 
It’s vital to register with the in-country British Embassy. Nobody wants to think they’ll ever need their services, but it’s common sense to make your presence in the country known to them.

As the months progress, working overseas will undoubtedly appeal to many, and it’s definitely something to consider when markets are challenging. Don’t forget though, that the importance of research and an open mind cannot be underestimated when it comes to a successful overseas experience.

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