I’m very lucky that at this point in my career I get to give back to the next generation, and have the opportunity to mentor some wonderful people who will one day be the next generation of TA leadership. One of the most frequent topics my mentees want to discuss is how they can get international TA experience. They realize that if they want to increase their value in the global economy they need to be able to operate intelligently in a global environment.
Since this seems to be the one commonality amongst my diverse mentees, I thought I’d take a few moments to share what I’ve learned and how I’ve managed to have a very global career.
Lesson 1 — Volunteer for Opportunities
This goes so against what I learned in the Army, to never volunteer, but it is the easiest way to get started. Here’s a secret: international business travel is often exhausting, and it is never as glamorous as perceived by your friends, so if you ask to take a project on, it will often be quickly and joyfully granted to you. As a side note, this also means you have your passport ready. If you don’t have a passport, get one today!
Lesson 2 — Set a Study Plan
There are four areas you can start learning about to increase your chances to gain an international role.
First, TA and HR laws vary widely around the world. There are excellent resources on line that can help you become very familiar with the legal landscape and changes that are occurring around the world, ERE has published some great resources on GDPR in the EU, as an example. If you can become familiar enough with the laws, and expert enough at where to find answers, then you are way ahead of those around you.
Recruiting tools vary widely around the world, and you should learn what is most effective in each area. There is plenty of regional research that will help you hone in on what tools are hot or effective in which region. Here is an advanced tip: reach out to someone currently recruiting in the region and ask them to share best practices. I’ve done this countless times to gather intel on tools and methods, and folks are always generous with their time and best practice sharing.
Next, learn the markets. Again there is plenty of information readily available discussing various global markets. Know what major differences, demographics, and factors impact different areas. For example, know about the GDPR laws in the EU. Set up news alerts, and make sure you understand geopolitical impacts that could affect various regions. Start consuming and assimilating as much info as you can.
Finally, learn about different cultures and micro cultures. Europe and Asia are not singular places for example. The culture in Vietnam is different than Japan or China. Europe has many regional and national differences as well.
Lesson 3 — Network
The single best way to learn about TA around the world is to network with the people doing it. There are many pros on LinkedIn who would love to share their knowledge and experience with you, and can help prepare you for truly global roles. Sourcecon has gone global, and is building an engaged community that wants to interact with you. Networking was how I learned what I need to know to staff up a new office in the Netherlands successfully. Without the kind sharing of several local experts I met through LinkedIn and other channels, it would have been a long and painful process, and one that may have ultimately failed.
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Lesson 4 — Be Prepared to Eat the Food
Bonding over food is as old as bonding and food; it is a natural doorway for people to gain familiarity with each other. The U.S. has been influenced by global cuisine, but in different countries and regions the spices, preparation, local ingredients, and style of eating may be unique. Locals are proud of their food traditions and feel that sharing them with you is important. Be open to trying things outside of your comfort zone, and never wrinkle your nose at the food. It is amazing how the relaxed experience of eating together can open trust and dialogue anywhere you may be.
Bonus Lesson for Students — Study Abroad
If you can swing the expense, studying abroad gives you firsthand knowledge about another country and its culture(s). Again, this is a leg up as most Americans never leave the country or if they do it is in highly controlled environments like all inclusive resorts or cruises. Get out, talk to locals, be a traveler and not a tourist.
You want to have a global impact in TA, you will need to do some homework, and be comfortable putting yourself out there. Your value as a TA pro or leader will increase significantly when you are able to operate with a strong understanding of global recruitment.