Ask the headhunter

Anton van Rossum
Leestijd: 3 minuten

P.R. asks:

For several years now, I’ve been working in the R&D department of a large deep-tech company in Finland. After studying electrical engineering in Taiwan, I thought it would be nice to explore my horizons and gain international experience. So far, it hasn’t been disappointing, although the COVID period was a tedious one due to all the international travel restrictions. As a result, I didn’t see my parents in Taiwan for quite some time and not much of Europe either. Because winters here are rather long and dark, I got to know the local gym particularly well.

Recently, there have been some changes in my company’s strategy that have made my work less interesting. I’ve therefore started to explore the job market a little and have responded to a few vacancies. I’m open to anything, as long as it offers opportunities to learn fun new things and I don’t lose out financially. Location is also key; I need to be able to feel at home somewhere and not be locked up in a compound. Building a social network is important to me.

I’ve had interviews at a number of companies and received a few offers, but I find it extremely hard to choose. The offers are very difficult to compare. Everywhere the cost of living is different and so are the tax regime, the system of social insurance, laws, and so on.

In particular, I’m torn between an offer from Singapore and one from the Netherlands. Not only the climate but also the general social and cultural environment differ greatly. The roles are rather similar but in very different technology domains. Both positions would be a logical step in my career so that doesn’t help either. The company in Singapore offers a higher base income toward bonuses and RSUs, but the cost of living is also very high there. I do get a comprehensive relocation service and housing for six months. The Dutch company, on the other hand, has an interesting sign-on bonus, but I have to arrange everything else myself. This doesn’t make my choice any easier. What would you recommend?

The headhunter answers:

You’re facing an important decision and it’s wise to make an informed choice. With an international career switch, many different issues come into play on top of the usual considerations when changing jobs.

A ‘normal’ career switch involves a number of factors, including the organization, the team, the company’s economic prospects, the job content and technology domain, the career opportunities, the location, the training opportunities, the personal development opportunities and, finally, the remuneration. With an international move, a few more points are added to the list, such as specific local, cultural, legal and political aspects and economic issues like taxes and the cost of living. For instance, the average temperatures in Singapore are very high and it’s very humid there, with frequent rainstorms. It’s also a relatively small city with limited outdoor options. And it’s among the most expensive places in the world.

Among this laundry list of things to consider, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the team and the people you’ll be dealing with. As a young engineer working in a complex high-tech field, you can learn a lot from your colleagues. When there’s a constructive and positive culture, you’ll be able to make great strides very quickly and grow both personally and in the organization.

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