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Guide to working overseas

You have made the decision to head for new horizons and finally landed your dream job in an exotic and exciting location - now comes the time to really prove yourself. More than ever before, there are plenty of international marketing job opportunities. Hays Marketing offers some advice.

Marketing jobs in India and China

The booming media industry in India has opened up a potential gateway to a marketer’s playground: a young, vibrant population coupled with western investment and aspirations. The increase in western investments could also see higher wages for marketing jobs in the region.

Also in the spotlight is China, where recent events indicate the direction of things to come and excellent prospects for marketers. Starbucks has recently taken the VP of marketing for McDonald’s to increase awareness and presence while Proctor & Gamble has launched major product ranges in a previously untouched market. Rolling Stone magazine has made a major impact in its first few months of release.

However, packing up and jet setting to your dream location is not easy. Competition is tough and economic, political and natural events mean that the international market can be unpredictable.

But with a tenacious attitude and a focused mindset you can make yourself stand out from the crowd and reap the benefits of a stint abroad. You will also substantially increase your marketing job prospects if you choose to return to the UK in the future.

Tools for success

Effective communication:

This is extremely important - especially in countries where little English may be spoken and when working closely with interpreters and translators.

Dispelling misconceptions:

If these are embedded in your thinking, you may be construed as unenthusiastic. Some examples of common misconceptions include:

  • Complacency and the expectation that operations will echo those at home
  • Assuming that everything will ‘fall into place’
  • Thinking that the placement will be detrimental to your career

These could not be further from the truth. A prerequisite for progressing in any organisation is to focus on the opportunity at hand. Those who apply themselves properly will be rewarded. 

Customs and cultures

You may be unaccustomed to them, but familiarising yourself with the local culture and customs is part of the enjoyment of working and living abroad and making the most of your international marketing job.

For example, did you know that it is a sign of disrespect to greet someone with your right hand in Tanzania and that any public show of strong emotions or embracing is considered disrespectful in Thailand? Things will be done differently but that does not mean that they are wrong. Accept the status quo and do not try and change things.


Even if it doesn’t come naturally to you or think there is no need because you are on a work placement, force yourself to socialise! Accept all invitations and get to know your colleagues.

Conveying an affable, confident and sociable persona is essential. A shy retiring wallflower will not make the best impression, but neither will an over-the-top extrovert, so make sure you get the balance right.

Other things to consider when you move overseas:

 As an expat you will be paid at a higher rate and may have higher standards and expectations. This cuts both ways: have a good time, but remember you are an expensive hire so act professionally. Think of it as a transfer and keep the same discipline you would employ at home

  • Get to know the rest of the marketing department and shadow other departments to see how the marketing function integrates with the rest of the business
  • Meet and greet suppliers, partners and overseas institutes
  • Consider the practicalities, such as setting up a bank account, getting connected, registering with a doctor and dentist, planning your commute, renewing your visa, finding your nearest supermarket, and so forth

Local values always hold firm, but natives will be more than accommodating and welcoming to marketers who can provide value. They have hired you because your skills and experience are valuable to them so try not to be overwhelmed with the move - think of it as transferring to another role in your home country. You will find many of your skills are highly transferable, so you can get up to speed quickly, make an impact, and gain some experience that will be help you advance your career when you get home.

Now that you’ve got all the facts, it’s time to start looking for your international marketing job.