As boomers retire, millennials will represent the largest group in the global workforce by 2020. Having experienced a major recession, millennials have developed a different worldview and set of priorities when it comes to their careers. There is more of an emphasis on the here and now versus planning for an uncertain future. Openness to travel, strong desire for work life balance, and rejection of soul crushing jobs at home means there’s never been a better time to explore opportunities abroad.
So why do millennials and working abroad make such a perfect match?
– The world has never been as accessible and millennials are taking full advantage of cheap flights, Skype, and the sharing economy (Airbnb, Uber etc), to travel like never before. Close to 69% of graduates from North America and 70% from Europe want to travel abroad (see graph below) and now have the means and technology to make it happen. It also helps that millennials have a nomadic urge and a thirst for knowledge like no other before them. What does all this mean? You are not alone in wanting to chuck your job for a beach side shack in Thailand.
– Many of our peers have made compromises to work in a less than satisfying job just to get a toehold in the job marketplace. So when great career boosting opportunities pop up in emerging markets, millennials are more than ready to pack their bags to grab them. Opportunities abroad can offer more responsibility and a steep learning curve that is hard to find in domestic opportunities. Once someone experiences this learning curve and proves they can handle the responsibility, they won’t ever be going back to an entry level job.
– There is a great demand for the professionalism and English language skills that students from Western universities bring to emerging market companies. This difference in quality of education means that many hires can hit the ground running while saving companies time and money on training. In return, employers are willing to give candidates more interesting work and let them shoulder more responsibilities, which is a win-win for both.
– Millennials care more about happiness and fulfillment than previous generations like the boomers. Opportunities abroad help them find roles that are meaningful and a better match to their area of study/interest. They also place a higher priority on work life balance than their boomer parents (who probably held no more than 3 jobs their entire life). To find this balance, they are willing to hop jobs with greater frequency (see graph below) and try out a variety of roles and workplaces while learning new skills along the way. Working abroad offers the kind of diversity of opportunities that lets you experiment and find the right kind of skills to jumpstart a successful career.
– Companies have come to recognize that global mobility has accelerated over the last two decades and have come to value international experience on a candidate’s resume. Increasingly companies are recognizing the fact that managing global talent can be the difference between success and failure. Many companies are offering international experiences to graduates straight out of college. Global talent mobility will be the new norm for companies looking gain a competitive edge in the future and the value of international experience on your resume is only likely to go up.
– Countries like India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand offer extremely affordable cost of living thanks to cheaper food, housing, and healthcare. That helps foreign workers save money, pay off college debt, travel locally to exotic destinations and have a great social life. Thanks to software and apps like DuoLingo and Babbel that help workers pick up local languages quickly, it’s easy to integrate into local society and get the full living abroad experience.
As a group, millennials are open, tolerant and much more accepting of diversity than previous generations. They are future focused and want to make a difference in the world. They are also much more independent and open to travel as a way of seeking knowledge and expanding their horizons. With work opportunities opening up in emerging economies around the world, there couldn’t be a better time to pursue a global career served up with a generous dash of adventure and learning.