In this series, manpower reporter Tay Hong Yi offers practical answers to candid questions on navigating workplace challenges and getting ahead in your career. Get more tips by signing up to The Straits Times’ HeadSTart newsletter.
Q: I would like an overseas posting. How do I broach the topic and what do I need to know before taking the leap?
A: Overseas postings can come in many different forms, depending on the sector, size and scope of the business.
Multinational corporations and large local enterprises are more likely to have overseas postings available due to their regional and global reach, says Dr Nadir Zafar, director of the Singapore Leaders Network.
Backed by the Economic Development Board, the networking group was launched in July 2022 to prime Singaporeans for global corporate leadership roles.
He recalls how early in his career as a management trainee at a global shipping firm, his employer required trainees such as him to go on an overseas assignment in the second year of their tenure at one of a list of pre-selected countries.
But local small and medium-sized enterprises are increasingly sending talent abroad to drive ventures into new territories, especially in Asean, observes Mr Dhirendra Shantilal, strategic adviser at recruitment firm TG Group.
Employers that take a more structured approach to sending talent abroad tend to be larger organisations and they often put up internal postings for employees to register their interest, says Mr Shantilal.
“The steps are usually in this sequence: Identifying the talent, assessing their suitability to the country they are being posted to, providing training and cultural orientation, and finally a discussion on the overall remuneration and benefits package.”
He adds: “Such organisations also have a team that handles logistical support, which includes visa and immigration matters, to ease the transition.”
Dr Zafar says: “Other companies may have less structured programmes and often, it is up to the employee to raise their hand for such an opportunity… If there are no vacant roles, you can also create a role for yourself by demonstrating how you can bring value to the table.”
Receiving external support, such as through government grants that help defray the cost of sending Singaporeans on postings abroad, could also tip the balance in the employee’s favour, he adds.
Mr Shantilal advises those interested in an overseas posting but work for companies without structured pathways to first share their aspirations with their direct line managers and human resources managers.
These employees should also mention their interest during informal chats with senior leaders in their firm, so their names are the first to come to mind when the opportunity arises.
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