Rebecca Penwarden is Global Opportunities Manager at Page Group, where she specialises in assisting professionals who are relocating to London. Rebecca has personal experience of relocation, having moved to London in 2015 from New Zealand, where she was an operations manager for a promotions company. Prior to this Rebecca has worked for Cosmopolitan magazine in Sydney.
“…people who relocate to other countries not only have the appeal of international experience, but it takes someone with confidence to take such a big step, so that in itself speaks volumes about those candidates, whether male or female!..”
Please can you give us an overview of the international recruitment market?
The global recruitment market is booming at the moment, with companies generally having recovered from the global financial crisis. International candidates are highly sought after, as they can bring different perspectives and international experience.
Are there any professions / skillsets that are particularly in demand?
We are finding candidates are highly sought in a range of professions, but at the moment international candidates are most in demand in the finance sector, as well as the secretarial sector. Marketing professionals are in demand as well, with digital and / or FMCG [fast moving consumer goods] experience being the most sought after.
What countries are common destinations for your placements (or what requests do you receive from candidates)?
I’d say Australia. They all desire warmer and better weather! The pay is also much higher in Australia for a lot of disciplines, which is very appealing for a lot of Brits. With Michael Page consultants all over the world, we refer candidates to a relevant consultant from their desired country. Brits under the age of 31 can get the Australian equivalent of the Youth Mobility visa as well, so it’s fairly easy and straightforward.
On a global basis, our most common destination for candidates is London without a doubt. New Zealanders and Australians do their ‘traditional OE’ [overseas experience] which is frequently to Europe, where being based in London is the most convenient for both travel and finding work, as well as its social scene. Partnered with the Tier 5 visa – which is easily obtained for under 31 year olds – it makes London a very popular choice.
What sort of languages are most in demand from employers?
This can range depending on the role, sector and company. Working within financial services in the UK may require European languages (such as German, French, Spanish and Nordic languages). Supply chain may want Mandarin, and international companies in general may want languages relevant to the country where the company’s head office is or the language where the majority of their dealings are based.
What are the factors to consider when contemplating a relocation (e.g. tax, visas, work permits, qualifications etc.)?
Relocating can be complicated, especially if you aren’t familiar with the country or acquainted with people who are there. Having moved from New Zealand to London this year myself, I relied on information from friends, the Internet, and of course, the global opportunities team at Michael Page!
Most of our candidates already have their visas organised, but we are on hand to answer general advice, or refer them to where they can find the correct information. Questions about paying tax are common, whereby for the UK it’s very straightforward to arrange National Insurance numbers.
Bank accounts are a big one, and they can be complicated when relocating, as generally addresses are required and most candidates don’t have permanent residence initially. However, having been through all of it myself, I can always relate and give advice to candidates on how to overcome these obstacles.
Many candidates require information on rates of pay, as well as how long it may take to get a job in their field. Michael Page has a salary comparison tool, which is a salary guide for the UK. For other countries, many Michael Page websites include a salary guide – the Australian Salary Centre as an example – to help candidates know their worth. While we want our candidates to earn as much as possible, we do encourage flexibility. Despite the fact that international candidates are highly sought after, there is a high amount of competition in major cities.
We do not recommend candidates conduct a direct currency conversion from their existing salary before they make the move. Rather we advise to weigh up a salary expectation based on the salary guide, and by thoroughly researching roles in the area and seeing the competitive salaries.
Another obvious and important factor to consider when moving abroad is living arrangements. Places like London, Paris, Sydney and New York can have very high living costs, so it can be a big risk to arrange permanent accommodation before securing a role. I was lucky enough to have friends to stay with, but if that’s not possible for our candidates, we can help you with the best options available for the place you’re relocating to.
We welcome any questions from candidates regarding their relocation, even if it’s about social things to do when they arrive. Both of us on the Global Opportunities team have relocated ourselves, so we enjoy giving advice ensuring our candidates enjoy and make the most of their time in their new country.
What are the benefits of short term assignments versus permanent roles?
When using recruitment agencies, candidates who are on shorter term visas (such as the Tier 5, two-year visa) are generally restricted to contract / temporary roles. This is generally favoured by candidates on time-restricted visas because contract / temp work is generally at a higher rate of pay. This is due to sick pay / holiday leave being included in the pay rate, rather than an additional benefit on top of a salary.
Those in temporary positions or contracts allow more flexibility to travel in between assignments, and achieve that attractive work / life balance. These roles will usually have a short notice period required to be served, allowing candidates the option to move more freely between roles of interest (although we don’t recommend dropping out of contracts!).
Permanent roles are usually slightly lower in terms of pay rate, but there is the inclusion of benefits such as sick pay, annual leave, pensions, company incentives, and of course, job security.
Are there any cultural implications that women should consider in relation to different locations and where are the best opportunities for women?
The Global Opportunities team work mainly in England, Australia and New Zealand, and we find there isn’t anything major to consider in terms of cultural implications specifically for women.
The opportunities are there for the taking, and as I would recommend to anyone – dress professionally for interviews, talk through your work experience with confidence, negotiate terms that you are happy with, and enjoy the process. England, Australia and New Zealand are quite similar in terms of culture, and as a woman who has lived in all three countries, I haven’t found any disadvantages in terms of opportunities available, and opportunities to gain employment.
It’s all about your past experience and how you present yourself to potential employers and, as always, confidence in yourself and your abilities is the key! We also find people who relocate to other countries not only have the appeal of international experience, but it takes someone with confidence to take such a big step, so that in itself speaks volumes about those candidates, whether male or female!
As is the case in the UK, Australia and New Zealand are focussing strongly on diversity in the workplace, with a heavy emphasis on women in leadership positions. There is also a drive for women to come into disciplines that have traditionally been particularly male-dominated, such as engineering and IT.
Finding out more
If you’d like to do personal research, Google is your best tool. For finding out what the market is like, look for top recruitment companies for where you’re relocating to, and use search criteria for your preferred roles on their websites to see what’s around and rates of pay. Most agencies will have salary guides / tools, and the ability to register for alerts for new roles that would also show the frequency of the jobs that suit coming up.
Facebook is also one of my lifesavers for my relocation! There are groups everywhere you go for your fellow countrymen who are based in your new country, where you can go to for support and advice.
Within Page Group, we are fortunate to have the support of my colleague Michelle Weston, our Global Mobility Manager, who manages international transfers of our own staff within the company. We are passionate about growing and developing our own people by giving them fantastic opportunities working abroad.
How we can help you
Michael Page is a global company with consultants around the world. The Global Opportunities team at Michael Page operates in three locations – London, and across Australia and New Zealand. Our team assists candidates relocating to these locations with finding work, as well as all the ins and outs of other aspects of relocating.
From your readers’ perspective, the Page Group Global Opportunities Team is always happy to give any advice and help out where we can – and will happily point candidates in the right direction if we can’t give specific advice. Moving overseas is as exciting as it is nerve-wracking and scary, so we want to make people feel as confident about their transition as possible! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Candidates for roles outside the UK, Australia and New Zealand can also go direct to our other offices if they wish to apply for a job in a different country. For a list of work opportunities across the world, www.page.com covers all our groups – Page Personnel, Michael Page and Page Executive, as well as global locations available.