Building Your Career Abroad: Insights from Erica Yanney

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • New professionals should immerse themselves in observing the work culture, including communication styles, hierarchy, and work-life balance, to adapt seamlessly.
  • Overcome language barriers by leveraging tools like Google Translator and Grammarly, and consider engaging a Business English Tutor for crucial communications.
  • Adapt to different communication styles and professional etiquette by staying authentic, flexible, and respectful of cultural differences without compromising your identity.
  • Foster integration and inclusion in the workplace by being open and proactive in building relationships, understanding cultural nuances, and finding supportive networks.
  • Tailor your resume to the local job market by highlighting relevant international experience, certifications, and intercultural skills, making sure it meets cultural expectations.
  • Build a strong personal brand and network strategically through platforms like LinkedIn, focusing on showcasing your competencies and successes relevant to the job requirements.

Understanding and Adapting to a New Professional Environment

Navigating a new professional environment, especially in a different country, presents unique challenges and opportunities. In an enlightening Q&A, Erica Yanney shares her insights on understanding work culture, overcoming language barriers, and integrating into workplace communities. Her practical advice extends to tailoring resumes, building personal brands, and effective job searching strategies for foreign professionals. Whether you’re just starting your journey abroad or looking to deepen your integration, Erica’s guidance is invaluable for adapting and thriving in a new professional setting.

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  • Observation and Adaptation: Spend time observing how colleagues interact, communicate, and conduct themselves in the workplace. Adapt to local norms and practices accordingly.
  • Communication Style: Pay attention to directness, hierarchy, and formality in communication. Align your style with local norms.
  • Hierarchy and Decision-Making: Learn about organizational structures and decision-making processes, whether centralized or decentralized.
  • Work-Life Balance: Understand expectations around work hours and balance. Different cultures prioritize differently.
  • Relationship Building: Invest time in building relationships with colleagues and stakeholders, crucial in many work cultures.
  • Attitude towards Authority: Understand attitudes towards authority figures and how they’re respected or challenged.
  • Dress Code and Appearance: Familiarize yourself with workplace attire expectations, which can vary significantly across cultures.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Be mindful of cultural norms, values, and taboos to build rapport and avoid misunderstandings.
  • Feedback and Criticism: Learn how feedback is given and received, whether direct or implicit.
  • Training and Development: Take advantage of orientation programs to better understand local work culture and practices.

Focusing on these areas enables professionals to adapt effectively to their new work environment.”

“Nowadays we have tools like Google Translator and ChatGPT to help us with words and concepts we don’t understand. Have them readily accessible on your phone. In meeting contexts, you can quickly check words to clarify. 

When it comes to written communication, Grammarly is another helpful tool to catch mistakes. Just be aware that those tools are not perfect and many times it misunderstands the context and suggests something wrong. 

I recommend having a Business English Tutor. Depending on the importance of the communication, have your Business English Tutor review communication documents for you. When I was at the University, my tutor would revise my papers with me, and this was very helpful in my development. 

Beyond that, be in peace with your vulnerability as immigrants and ask clarifying questions whenever necessary to ensure complete understanding about tasks and assignments. We are what we are: foreigners adapting at a new country, we need some grace. Find supportive colleagues and avoid those with a competitive, critical,  and judging spirit who may have a negative attitude towards foreigners for this help.”

“Observation remains key. Keep it human. Most humans speak the “human language.” Be authentic while also considerate and respectful of cultural differences. Flexibility is key in adapting. Allow yourself to adopt some new ways of communicating and being while also maintaining some key values and allowing your unique identity to show. 

This is a balance that you will figure out with time. You will need to experiment and see which boundaries feel comfortable and are effective at the same time. You are unique; your circumstances are unique, and there is no one recipe fits all.

Just avoid the trap of assimilation: abandoning your identity completely for the sake of fitting in. That leads to identity crisis, depression, and unhappiness. Find the right balance between transforming and remaining who you are at the core.”

“Integration and inclusion can be fostered through:

  • Authenticity and Openness: Be comfortable with your identity and open to interactions. Smile, be friendly, and show willingness to engage with colleagues.
  • Taking Initiative to Connect: Take the first step in building relationships. Reach out, participate in team activities, and demonstrate willingness to contribute positively to the workplace community.
  • Cultural Understanding: Be understanding of cultural differences and demonstrate patience and empathy towards colleagues. Address misunderstandings with humility and a willingness to learn.
  • Seeking Supportive Networks: Identify supportive colleagues and networks within the workplace. Avoid individuals with negative attitudes towards foreigners, prioritizing relationships with those who embrace diversity.

By following these strategies, foreign professionals can integrate successfully into their workplace communities.”

Tailoring Resumes and Personal Branding for the Local Job Market

  • “Be aware of culture norms for resumes (picture or not, size of paper, content expected). For example, in England, the size of paper is different, they expect to know about your hobbies and interests out of work, and they prefer a CV (your entire career) instead of a resume (a summary of the past 15 years). 
  • Use metrics that are common in the country (lbs. X kg, dollar X currency, Fahrenheit X Celsius).
  • Explain the equivalency of degrees and certifications.
  • As in any resume, showcase your results with statistics, numbers, and comparisons that put your accomplishments into perspective in relationship to the average in the market or the internal performance of the company.
  • Read your bullets from the point of view of the new culture, try to see with the eyes of the recruiter and the company at your new country. If you were hiring a foreigner what would you want to see in their resume?
  • Write to the needs of that specific company.
  • Highlight your intercultural skills and higher capacity of adaptation, especially for global minded companies. How being an immigrant can make you better for the job? Make sure you build that narrative to leverage your international experience and perspective. 
  • Ensure you include your knowledge of international standards and regulations in your field.”
  • “Ensure you have all certifications required, or that you have an equivalent one in your country and can easily pursue the National equivalent.
  • If this will be your first work abroad, on the cover letter or resume, assure the hiring managers and HR professionals that you have a visa that allows you to work legally in the country. 
  • Once you have had experience in the country, don’t mention your visa status to avoid bias. They will see that you have worked in the country already, so they can assume you have the required visa and authorization to work.”
  • “Ensure you have all certifications required, or that you have an equivalent one in your country and can easily pursue the National equivalent.
  • If this will be your first work abroad, on the cover letter or resume, assure the hiring managers and HR professionals that you have a Visa that allows you to work legally in the country. 
  • Once you have had experience in the country, don’t mention your visa status to avoid bias. They will see that you have worked in the country already, so they can assume you have the required visa and authorization to work.”

“Technical knowledge is country-neutral. Understand the knowledge and skills required and prove with real-life examples that you have a track-record of success in the required competencies. You will be hired by your talent, degrees, soft skills, emotional intelligence, leadership, and the proven successes of your career. Brand yourself as the ideal competent candidate for that company and you will have success.”

  • “Not making your resume culturally relevant and fit.
  • Not following the laws of the land for resumes.
  • Not using metrics that are better understood by the culture.
  • Having English mistakes in the resume.
  • Not translating role and degree titles into something the culture can comprehend.
  • Not displaying what is relevant for that company in terms of competencies and skills.
  • Not focusing on results, and simply describing responsibilities.”

Strategic Job Searching and Networking for Immigrant Professionals

“Nowadays, there is no doubt that LinkedIn is the best platform to network and broadcast your message. Professional organizations, online groups and forums, events, recruiting agencies, firms, and placement companies are other resources I would tap into. Identifying International recruiters and companies searching for external talent is another wise strategy.”

How can foreign professionals build a new professional network from scratch in a new environment?

Picture of Erica Yanney

“Again, LinkedIn is the best tool! Have an excellent, well written LinkedIn profile that is SEO optimized to attract the right opportunities and post regularly showcasing your knowledge, character, and successes.

Use the search to find alumni and other immigrants from your country. The common immigrant and alma mater background can be an attractor to build a relationship. 

Identify target companies and network specifically with people from those companies. Make yourself known. You have potential, but you need to make your existence and presence known to be considered. You need to be under their radar on LinkedIn, by making yourself noted in online groups, events, and networking meetings.

Connect with fellows by industry, trade, geographic location, or religious affiliation. Find a point of commonality to connect.

Attend community events, political events, school functions, go to shows, join a religious community of faith, and volunteer. Volunteering is not only great to build your network, but to gain professional experience abroad (if you volunteer in your area), and have reference letters from professionals in the new country. Make an effort to make friends and integrate. When people know you are looking for a job, which at some point you will reveal in the conversation, they may even volunteer to help you.

One common mistake immigrants should avoid is being cozy in their national community instead of integrating with natives. Yes, you will need the support of your immigrant community, but don’t let that be the whole picture. The key to total integration and adaptation is to mingle with the culture and people as much as possible.”

What are some key strategies for immigrants to stand out in job interviews within culturally different settings?

“Authenticity, courage, a well-practiced and rehearsed message that speaks to the company’s needs, being comfortable in your own skin, and being ready to stand tall as an immigrant, even if you mispronounce some words. 

Structuring answers and interview practice is even more paramount to immigrants. Immigrants should expect to practice three times as much to really flow and be comfortable communicating.”

Could you provide advice for immigrants on understanding and navigating unique recruitment processes in a new country?

“I work mostly with the American and Brazilian markets. I have helped an American professional get a job in England with Microsoft. There are more commonalities in the process than there are differences.

In a nutshell:

  • Know who you are, your strengths and what you have to offer.
  • Research your market and know the companies’ needs.
  • Learn to communicate your value and success well on your Resume, LinkedIn, Networking Interactions and Interview (cultural norms included).
  • Network, network, network, build relationships, target key people in companies you are interested, get internal referrals.
  • Create a presence online and have a rich SEO profile to attract the opportunities in the hidden job market.
  • Leverage government organizations, recruiting agencies, headhunters, and professional organizations.

To understand the differences the best is to do informational networking, research,  and consult Career Coaches that have experience in that country. 

If you are a qualified candidate, able to communicate well enough to be understood, there is a place for you! 

If not, upskill and become qualified. A new country may have specific demands concerning certification and training for the job, but this is an obstacle you can overcome.

The possibilities are endless. Keep disciplined and strong in your commitment and you will get the international job you aspire.”

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