Prepare and prosper in your overseas employment

Overseas employment can seem a daunting option, but a little preparation can make the transition relatively painless. If you anticipate potential problems and take precautions, it can reduce the headaches in those all-important first weeks. Do your research on the country where you will be working, and be prepared to adjust all your expectations.

One of the first aspects of overseas employment to investigate is the degree of help provided by your employer. In many instances this can be extensive, including accommodation, assimilation, language tuition and much more. Less often the employer merely arranges your work permit, and for all other purposes, you are thrown in at the deep end and expected to adjust immediately.

Learn the language. This is the key to feeling at home in a foreign country. It's not a problem in the USA, Canada or Australia, but it's important to feel you can communicate, even if it's just in everyday transactions like shopping or arranging a telephone service.

Know where to find your consulate or embassy, but don't get too involved with the expat community. Occasionally you might need help or advice about red tape, visa requirements or work regulations, but try to restrict yourself to official requests, rather than phoning up every other day to ask where you can buy Marmite. You can find a list of British embassies and consulates at fco.gov.uk.

Get your tax affairs in order from the outset, as this can be one of the most problematic areas of overseas employment. Your tax status will depend on the country you are working in, and the terms of your contract, but it's worth checking the procedures at an advice site like taxcafe.co.uk.

Remember that overseas employment is not an ordeal, but an experience that can enhance your career and your life. Future employers will be impressed by workers with overseas experience on a CV. See it as an opportunity to broaden your range of skills and knowledge, rather than an unavoidable spell in exile just to earn some extra money.

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