How Do I Develop Expertise and Gain Employment in Global Mobility?

edit-Alan Biz Mug Shot 1Author:
Alan Freeman – LOF International HR Solutions

One of our readers recently asked, I have been working in the HR field for the last few years and would like to break into the Expat Management/International Mobility field in Global HR.  What is the best way to gain experience that will make me stand out to an organization that is recruiting global mobility staff?”

First, thanks very much to the reader for posting the question.  We truly appreciate receiving input from and creating dialog with our colleagues.

To begin with a broad response to the question, please take a look at my June 25, 2009 entry, “How Can I Develop Global Human Resources Management Expertise?”.

Since the question focused specifically upon expatriate management / “Global Mobility”, some additional considerations include:

  • Become a member of ERC Worldwide, use their resources, attend their meetings and become involved with their local affiliate groups’ meetings as well.  You also should consider obtaining the GMS certification.  ERC also posts career opportunities on their web site and you should monitor those.
  • If you are based in Europe, or are in Europe frequently, consider becoming involved with EuRA.
  • If you are currently employed in an organization that has a international assignments / Global Mobility program, get to know the staff responsible for the program – especially those with managerial responsibilities.  Take them to lunch, ask their advice, learn what you can from them and, perhaps most importantly, volunteer to help them with their work.  In today’s environment, they’re likely to be rather overworked and would welcome some help!
  • Seek employment in corporations with established international assignment / Global Mobility programs, network with the global mobility management staff in those companies, keep an eye on job postings on their web sites.  ERC’s members roster, their job postings board and involvement with the meetings mentioned above are ways to identify target companies and, possibly, specific opportunities.
  • Do the same as above with the various global mobility service providers such as Bristol Global MobilityCartus, Prudential, SIRVA, MI Group, AIReS, Crown, Primacy, Lexicon, Plus Relocation, Weichert, Altair, Brookfield, etc.  There are many more and you can find them via the ERC resources listings.  Please keep in mind, however, that in the current economic climate, the overall relocation business has slowed significantly so hiring in the industry has as well.
  • Seek out and participate in global mobility meeting groups in your area. For example, in Northern California, the Western International Personnel Association (WIPA) and Bay Area Professionals in Relocation Management (BAPRM) have a strong orientation toward global mobility.  There are many other such meeting groups around the country.  Global HR News hosts conferences in many locations across the US and abroad.
  • Consider joining the Forum for Expatriate Management, and the many LinkedIn groups that focus upon Global Mobility.  Track the discussions, and tap into the information and leads that appear in these forums.
  • Keep an eye on job listings at Blue Sky and Signature Source, make contact with the principals in those firms to “get on their radars”.  They are search firms that specialize in Global Mobility.
  • Take advantage of specific classes, seminars and webinars.  For example, ORC Worldwide, AIRINC and Mercer – the top three providers of international assignment package data – offer regular training programs. Also, please sign up for the remaining five sessions of the IOR Global Services webinar series that started on Sep 15 (I’m leading the Sep 29 session).
  • Read, read, read – there is a great wealth of books, periodicals, white papers, research reports, etc. that has become available over the years. You’ll find items on Amazon.com, at the SHRM bookstore, at the World at Work bookstore and within the ERC website.

So to summarize, learn as much as possible about international assignments / global mobility and network with people already working in the field.  The best way to learn, get on someone’s radar, and find out who is hiring, is to hang out with them!

Thanks again to our reader for her question. We ask others to also provide suggestions and guidance via comments on this post.

5 responses to “How Do I Develop Expertise and Gain Employment in Global Mobility?

  1. Alan –

    As always, an excellent post with a wealth of resources identified.

    I have two more suggestions for your reader and others interesting in a career in global mobility.

    First, educate yourself about culture. Cultural awareness is a critical competency for those that work with cross-border transfers.

    Second, volunteer for an assignment – even a short one. Nothing prepares you to work with expats like actually being one!

    Warren

  2. Thanks for your comments, Warren. I agree completely and would add that learning or enhancing one’s skills in multiple languages could be useful. Also, participation in multinational work projects, especially if they involve travel to other countries, can be very helpful.

  3. Michele Longley, GMS

    Thank you Alan for your insightful and information packed response.

    An additional advantage to anyone seeking employment in the global mobility field will be the ability to work and communicate effectively in a virtual environment.

    By nature global mobility is not static and a lot of communication and team development must occur over multiple time zones and across borders without the luxury of in person meetings.

    Networking with peers and colleagues, friends and acquaintances is not only the mainstay of finding a position and building local business relationships. This essential networking skill is also fundamental to building virtual teams globally.

    Michele.

  4. Hello Alan,
    Terrific article full of excellent pointers. I also agree with Warren’s comment re: learning about other cultures…that’s crucial.

    Three additional suggestions I would make are:
    1. Start learning foreign languages. If you already speak some, learn more.
    2. Do as much travel as possible whenever possible to broaden your cultural exposure.
    3. Watch and rewatch foreign films with subtitles, paying attention to things like vocal quality, body language and interpersonal interactions. Much of the world learns about the USA through our films and television programs…we can get a feel for them by watching their films.

    Best,
    Hilka

  5. Alan
    A wonderful and thought provoking piece right up for any one of those associates who like to make it to the finer aspects of Global Mobility. I am sure we will see more professionals who will get to facets of Global Mobility by choice.