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My boss recently asked me if I'd be interested in applying for a job overseas with our company. I am definitely interested in the position, but don’t know what questions I should be asking to help me decide if it’s the right career move for me.

Emily in Indiana

The Expert Answer

Dear Emily: Congratulations on being asked to consider for this type of position! Typically organizations select only their best and brightest leaders for international experience, so you should feel very flattered that you’ve been asked to apply.

There are a lot of personal and professional issues to consider when making any decision about relocation, but the issues become even greater when you’re considering moving overseas.

Below are 10 questions I’d suggest talking with your boss about as part of your decision making process:

  1. Would international experience increase your chances of achieving your career goals and/or would international experience allow you to achieve your goals more quickly?

  2. Is international experience a requirement for your career advancement, or is it something you can choose to decline without any career-limiting consequences?

  3. How long would you be expected to stay overseas? Is there a minimum or maximum time frame associated with the job? If you get there and hate it, can you come back to your previous job more quickly? If you get there and love it, can you stay longer than originally planned?

  4. Have other employees from your company lived overseas? Do employees live there now? What have their experiences been like?

  5. How will your salary increase or decrease as part of this move? Note: Be sure to learn as much information as you can about the cost of living in the particular country you are considering moving to.

  6. Is this move considered a promotion, a lateral move, or a step backwards? Note: There is nothing wrong with taking a lateral move or even a step backwards if you are gaining valuable experience. Sometimes people need to take these steps to get them to where they ultimately want to go, so don’t decline a position simply because it’s not a promotion.

  7. Will your company offer a corporate buyout on your current house and/or do they offer any housing allowance overseas? In this difficult housing market, it’s important to understand exactly what your company plans to offer you with regard to your current housing situation, as well as your housing situation overseas.

  8. What other additional expenses will your company pay for? The list of possible expenses that get included in an overseas package goes on and on. Be sure to clarify exactly what additional expenses your company plans to pay for as part of an overseas relocation.

  9. Are you guaranteed a job with your company when you return to the United States (assuming you have stayed overseas for the agreed upon amount of time)? Or, do you have to compete for open positions in the United States just like all the other internal candidates within your company?

  10. What does your boss see as the most compelling reasons for you to take the job overseas?

Obviously there are numerous personal questions to consider as well. How would an international move positively or negatively impact your spouse or partner, your children, your family and friends? How would it impact your sanity?

Many people dream of an international job while other people cringe at the thought of it. Since you said you were “definitely interested” in the position, it sounds like you’re more like the former group than the latter. Congratulations on having such an exciting option on your plate. Please let me know what you decide to do!

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