· News

Senior professionals are keen to work abroad to develop their careers

Senior staff want to move abroad - not to escape the recession, but to advance their career in a highly competitive, global market, research reveals.

The 2010 Hydrogen Global Professionals on the Move Report reveals for 60% of respondents the recession has had ‘no impact' on their willingness to move overseas, and 94% are either already working internationally, or want to do so.

This study is of 3,155 mid- to senior-level professionals earning an average salary of $125,000 US dollars and virtually all holding a professional qualification or above - half with postgraduate degrees such as an MBA.

The research was conducted for Hydrogen Group by a consultancy project team from ESCP Europe business school and offers insight into the mindset and motivations of highly qualified professionals at a time of uncertainty and flux in the global recruitment market. It uncovers a clear willingness of professionals to work abroad and explores both the reasons they look to do so and their favoured countries for relocation. However, the chosen locations don't always match up with where there is most demand for highly qualified talent.

Existing research in this area relates largely to tracking more junior or lower-skilled workers, but this report breaks ground by focusing on the migratory patterns of professional-level employees, with sector-specific analysis for the professional disciplines of finance, technology, engineering, legal and HR.

The survey also found, in contrast to research into migration of lower-skilled workers, for this demographic moving abroad is not about escaping recession. Their preference is for temporary periods abroad, not permanent relocation, with 64% of respondents willing to work in another country for up to five years.

The US, UK and Australia are consistently the top countries preferred by this demographic - although in most cases the popularity of certain countries does not correlate with where recruitment demand is greatest (for many sectors, the Middle East and Asia, for example)

While more men say they would definitely move abroad, more women are actually in jobs overseas. When asked 'How likely are you to move abroad?' 34% of women reported they were already working abroad, compared with 26% of men. However, 40% of men said they definitely wanted to go, as opposed to only 30% of women.

And recruitment consultancies were the most popular means of securing jobs abroad, with 28% of professionals already overseas having used one, followed by the use of headhunters by 16%. In contrast, the majority of respondents not yet abroad but who were interested in doing so (64%) were more likely to have simply done internet research about moving overseas, with only 15 % actually having spoken to a recruitment consultancy.

Commenting on the report's findings, Tim Smeaton, CEO of Hydrogen Group, said: "The clear message coming through in the research is, if professionals are serious about taking up the opportunities that await them overseas, they need to get serious about what they're doing to make it happen.

"Surfing the internet will never provide the specialist advice - or facilitate actual job opportunities - that recruitment consultancies and headhunters can provide.

"The research indicates that greater earning potential is not in itself a top priority for professionals when looking to work abroad. For high-fliers already on high salaries, a post overseas has to have the right fit with their overall career and life plan to be worth the move.

"It's not a case of going where the jobs are, but of where the right jobs are and that's very much the mindset we're seeing in professionals we're placing in roles around the world.

"The world is fast becoming one global market, which means businesses increasingly need to compete for talent on a global scale. We've seen a dramatic increase in our clients looking to hire candidates who already have international experience and who can therefore give the company competitive advantage as they break into new countries and markets."