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What Are the Biggest Barriers to Working Abroad?

by HRD

Almost half (48%) of HR managers identify the inability to adapt to new cultures as a main barrier to working abroad. Another 1 in 6 also said language problems were an issue, according to a survey by Universum and CEMS.

The report said candidates with language skills and the familiarity to adjust to new and often challenging environments have an advantage – but nearly half of HR managers in the survey said these individuals are hard to find. Results come from a survey of 1200 hiring executives, CEMS graduates, and students.

Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) of HR managers rated speaking more than one language as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ for future employability. Some 61% of hiring executives recommended that working outside comfort zones is a key career driver for new hires, while 36% said that taking on international assignments helps to boost the career growth of young professionals.

“With English you just have half of it. We need to enlarge the scope. Beyond the language skills, the ability to work in very contrasted economies is a differentiator,” said Bertrand de Laleu, global vice president HR at L’Oréal. “Organizational diversity is crucial. It’s no longer only about New York, London, Paris. Now it’s also about Sao Paulo, Lagos and Mumbai."


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