Expatriate assignments help advance careers

Executives
looking to advance their career should consider an expatriate assignment,
according to a survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Nearly two-thirds of
participants say that more than half their top executives had been on overseas
assignments. 

The
survey of 23 multinational companies reveals that as well as transferring
skills, career development is a major driver of expatriate assignments. 

Lesley
Lorraine, European principal at Mercer said: "Many multinationals
encourage senior employees to go on overseas assignments to enhance their
careers.

"These
placements often lead to future promotion, so those that decline could find
themselves falling behind other, more willing candidates."

The
study finds that when assessing potential candidates, companies mainly look for
technical expertise followed by leadership qualities. 

Good
organisational skills and adaptability are also sought-after requirements.  However, the survey also revealed that fewer
than half the participants have a formal selection process for placements.  Of those who do, the majority use interviews
as the main selection tool.

According
to the survey, two major causes of assignment failure are the inability to
demonstrate an international mindset and poor leadership skills.  Change aversion and lack of networking
skills were also cited as problems.

The
survey reveals that only a minority of companies (13 per cent) formally measure
the success or failure of expatriate assignments.

By Ben Willmott

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