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Posted on March 29th, 2014 1 commentBy Meg Wallace, Social Media Manager Passport Career members will find more information about the different styles in the Country Portfolios. If you do not have access to Passport Career, the following are some tips to help you create a resume/CV for your destination country as you will need to identify the general format and required information to include. For example, standard US resumes do not include a photo, but some countries, such as Germany, always include a photo. Be sure to speak with mentors and contacts who are familiar with the country's resume/CV style and to conduct online research to identify buzz words and key phrases used in both your country and your field of interest. Start a draft of your resume/CV with all of your experience and skills. This will provide you with a starting point when you customize your resume/CV to highlight your skills and experience for each application. Remember to pay attention to the tone used in your resume/CV when presenting your skills and experience. Cultural nuances come into play when you write your resume/CV. For some countries, such as the US, you want to focus on relevant achievements, accomplishments and results of your work. For other countries, such as Germany, you will want to include a comprehensive listing of your experience and focus on duties and responsibilities, except in some cases when you would focus on achievements, such as higher-level positions. Following are five tips to create a strong, country-specific resume/CV:
- Crowd Source for Feedback
Ask for opinions (off-line) on your list of strengths and weaknesses and on your brainstormed resume or CV. You might ask a trusted friend or mentor, an old colleague, or a family member for their input. They may be able to offer insight on your skills, experience, or on what employers are looking for
2. Think of your Resume/CV as a "living document"
As a job seeker, you know that your resume/CV should be as up to date and relevant as possible Before submitting a resume for a job or internship posting, be sure to review it for industry specific vocabulary, relevant skills, and positions that demonstrate how you are the best fit for the position you are applying to. One excellent way to do this is to visit the organization or company website and see what vocabulary is used in staff biographies and in the mission statement. Both are often found on the About Us page.
3. Beta-Test your Resume/CV
With the expansive use of online applications and email applications, it is important that potential employers see your resume/CV in its intended state. When possible, save the file as a PDF to preserve its original formatting. However, some applications require a plain text or word document submission. In these situations, email the document to yourself and close family or friends to see how it opens in different email services and with different software programs (Microsoft Word versus Apple Pages for example).
4. Research the Best Practices for the country you wish to work in
This tip may seem repetitive, but we can't stress enough how important this is! many employers are overwhelmed with applications and use software to sort through the initial applications. If your resume/CV and cover letter are not formatted to the normal specifications of the country in which you are applying, the system could eliminate your application before an HR professional even has a chance to see it.
5. Review your resume/CV throughout your career
Common advice when moving abroad is to keep a diary to record all of your best memories so you can revisit them years later. Your resume/CV is no different. Keep updating your draft as you gain new responsibilities or new skills so you don't forget anything. You might be surprised by how qualified of a candidate you really are!Passport Career provides detailed, country-specific career information and extensive resources about finding a job, internship, or alternative career opportunity. If your organization, embassy, university/college, library or other institution would like access to our Country Portfolios (15,000+ pages of expert content for 75+ countries and 250+ cities) to share with your students, employees, spouses/partners, and others managing a national or international career transition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR TRANSITION! Photo Credit: iStock
Posted on March 20th, 2014 2 commentsBy Meg Wallace, Social Media Manager, Passport Career
There are numerous ways to build your professional online presence. The basic building blocks of a successful online strategy include your LinkedIn profile, your Twitter account and your blog.LinkedIn offers several ways to stay up to date, by following industry leaders, joining and participating in group discussions related to your career interests and by following top companies. LinkedIn also frequently updates the tools it offers to users, so keep an eye on the LinkedIn Blog for new ways to participate in your industry! Twitter is an ever-increasingly popular way to join industry conversations. Tweet relevant articles and information to build up your reputation as an informed professional and take the opportunity to connect with companies and industry leaders. Twitter has the unique ability to connect you directly with organizations’ leaders by following them or directing well-thought out tweets to their or their company’s Twitter account.
Many expats host a blog to share their experiences with friends and families. You can likewise use blogs to improve your brand in your professional field. Write guest blogs and articles for leading blogs in your career field and follow the blogs of industry leaders to stay up to date! Many companies have started to release cutting-edge information on their site or blog rather than with traditional press releases, so this is a great way to stay ahead of the curve and brand yourself as leading-edge in your industry!2. Connect with professionals in your field who live and work in your new country.
Even if you cannot legally work in the country or region you are living in, there are numerous networking events and conferences that you may be able to attend! If you are a member of Passport Career, check out the Making Contacts/Networking section in the Country Portfolios for suggestions on where to start looking for these events.LinkedIn is also a great way to hear about conferences that may be coming to your area! Some conferences have also begun to offer online access to some of their sessions to offset the cost of travel. The skills and perspectives you gain through attending these events and sharing with professionals from different cultural and educational backgrounds will be invaluable when you re-enter your career field! 3. Cultivate your skills and interests
You may have worked in finance throughout your career but always wished you had time to learn about sustainable farming. Or, you may have worked as an elementary school teacher and wanted to learn marketing but never had the time. Now that you’re abroad, your time is a gift! You now have an excuse to explore other interests and, if you are a member of Passport Career, you have the resources to do so at your fingertips!Use your time to learn new skills and to pursue your interests by engaging in volunteer opportunities or attending classes at the local university. Today’s hiring managers are looking for well-rounded applicants who can optimize their transferrable skills to serve their company or organization. 4. Stay in touch with colleagues, peers, supervisors and network
It can sometimes be difficult to leave your job and maintain relationships with your colleagues, peers , supervisors and network. Everyone is busy and you can’t always leave on the best of terms with everyone in your office.Maintaining and cultivating relationships with your colleagues, peers and supervisors is key to providing you a leg-up when you do return to your field. It is often said that there is a ‘secret’ job market of positions that have not been posted publicly yet. Your connections may be able to suggest your name for the applicant pool or raise your application from the general group of candidates to the select group of considerations. Be sure to maintain symbiotic personal and professional relationships while abroad so that your colleagues, peers and supervisors are willing to help you out when you return! They could also provide you with additional ways to stay up-to-date while you are on assignment or traveling. It is never easy to leave your career behind for the uncertainty of a new city or country. By following these tips, you can ease your transition, maintain your professional brand, and increase your future employability! Passport Career provides more detailed career information and extensive resources about finding a job, internship, or alternative career opportunity. If your organization, embassy, university/college, library or other institution would like to access to our country portfolios (15,000+ pages of expert content for 75+ countries and 250+ cities) to share with your students, employees, spouses/partners, and others managing a national or international career transition, please email email@example.com regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR TRANSITION! Photo Credit: iStock
Posted on March 13th, 2014 2 commentsBy Meg Wallace, Social Media Manager, Passport Career
In our Global Career Blog post in early January, we highlighted 10 New Years Resolutions for Living and Working Abroad, the first of which was to learn the local language! With spring right around the corner, we thought now might be a good time to check in on how you are moving forward with the resolutions and to offer some of our favorite language learning tips!
- Find a buddy There’s no way around it! Learning a new language can be challenging. Having the support of a coworker, peer or family member can make it fun! Whether you go to classes together or practice together after work, knowing that someone else is facing the same challenges that you are can make all the difference! Just don’t be tempted to speak with your buddy in your native language all the time.
- Join a conversation group One of the most important (and arguably most difficult) parts of learning a new language is building the confidence needed to hold a conversation. Joining a conversation group is a great way to practice in a low-pressure setting and to make connections in your new city! You can look for conversation groups on local Facebook groups, websites like Meetup.com or through a cursory Google search!
- Immerse yourself through mediaListen to talk radio programs, popular music, podcasts, or watch television in the language you are trying to learn. This will strengthen your immersion into the language and help to cue you in to the local dialect and popular culture. You may pick up words and phrases that can help you to connect more quickly with your colleagues and neighbors! (Just be sure that you actually understand what you are saying.)
- Go digital You can sign up for a “Word of the Day” email in the language you are trying to learn, like this one from Transparent.com, or download some great free apps such as Duolingo! This is a great way to expand your vocabulary both in the language you are trying to learn and in your native language!
- You can find detailed language learning tips in the My Briefcase section.
- You also practice the language of any of the 80 countries covered by Passport Career by selecting the Country Portfolio and looking under the Language menu for free language learning resources!
- Passport Career has a language translator at the top of every page. You can translate any page by selecting one of the 50+ languages in the translator. This is a great way to practice common phrases!
Posted on January 28th, 2014 2 commentsBy Meg Wallace, Social Media Manager, Passport Career Applying for your first job or internship can be nerve-racking—especially when seeking an internationalposition. Here are some tips to build a strong foundation and get you started!
- Step Back & Reflect
In order to identify the appropriate jobs or internships in other countries, you first need to take some time to reflect and answer these 4 questions.
- What are you goals? Think of this as a checklist for your ideal position. What are your must have requirements? What can you live without? What are you not willing to compromise on?
- What are your strengths and value-added? Start by listing out all of the things you are good at or that you enjoy doing. Then, break down this list to develop a list of your strengths and abilities.
- What are your weaknesses? In most countries, the interviewer will ask you about your weaknesses in some sort of culturally-appropriate way. We all have them. The key is being able to recognize your weaknesses and develop a plan on how to both address them and how to convey to the interviewer the positive outcome in addressing them.
- Research & Brainstorm Global Career Options If you have access to Passport Career, there are several sections in each the Country Portfolios that will help you research options. Be sure to read through the Job Search Overview, the Top Employers, and/or the Internships sections to identify the key employment/internship areas for the country and cities of interest to you. If you don’t have access to Passport Career, then you’ll want to identify employment trends and needs in your country and city of interest by researching business-related websites, speaking with professionals who live or previously lived there, and brainstorming possibilities by exploring job posting sites (not for the purpose of applying, but for researching general opportunities).
- Draft a Country-Specific Resume/CV You will want to create a draft of your resume/CV as you will need to tailor it to meet the needs and interests of each employer. Write down all of your experience—both paid and unpaid. You will need to draft a resume/CV specific to the style of your destination country. Every country has its own style of resume, and many countries refer to it as a “CV.” Passport Career members will find detailed guidance, analyses and samples of country-specific resumes for 80 countries in the Country Portfolios. If you do not have access to Passport Career, you will need to identify the general format and style for your country of interest and develop it according to their expectations. Some countries, such as Germany, expect a photo on your CV and some countries expect you to include your birthdate, marital status and a variety of other personal information.
- Identify International Jobs & Internships Once you have completed the first three steps, start looking for different positions and internships in your country of interest. Reach out to industry leaders or mentors for suggested job or internship sites in your field. If you have access to Passport Career, check out the jobs and internships on the International Job/Internship Portal, which is updated daily with more than one million opportunities in 203 countries. You will also find country-specific and city-specific job boards that are recommended by global career experts. These are found in each of the Country Portfolios, and will provide you access to millions of additional opportunities around the world. Passport Career members should also attend the weekly Global Career Webinars for tips and strategies on international job searches. If you attend the International Resumes/CV Webinar, you can submit your country-specific resume/CV for a free review by a global career expert!
- It’s Time to Apply for International Jobs & Internships! Once you have identified a job or internship that you want to apply for, sit down with your resume/CV and highlight the most relevant skills and experience. Be sure there are no unexplained time gaps, but feel free to highlight different key responsibilities or relevant courses for each application. Do the same for your cover letter, using your goals, strengths and weaknesses as a guideline. Be sure to identify your motivation for applying to the position or internship as well as what you will bring to the table—your value-added! Employers want skilled and dedicated employees, not one or the other. Don't forget to spell check your resume, application and cover letter before you send it. Always be sure to get a second set of eyes to review it for clarity, spelling and appropriateness (for the country, culture and position).
- Step Back & Reflect In order to identify the appropriate jobs or internships in other countries, you first need to take some time to reflect and answer these 4 questions.
Posted on January 17th, 2014 No commentsBy Meg Wallace, Social Media Manager, Passport Career Social Media and the internet have permeated arguably every facet of our lives. It should be taken seriously and approached strategically as you seek employment both domestically and abroad. In many parts of the world, there is a debate as to how heavily companies rely on social media and google searches to parse their initial applicant pool. As a potential candidate for employment, it is best to err on the side of caution. Employers who look you up online are searching not only for your qualifications for the job. In addition, they are seeking clues to your professional integrity, how you might be a good fit with their company, and how your online presence might impact the company’s image. Here are 5 tips for cleaning up your online image to help strengthen your global job search!
- Comply with local societal and business norms Familiarize yourself with the cultural protocol and business etiquette of your destination country. If you are a Passport Career member, you can find this information in each of the country guides/portfolios. Researching the business etiquette will help you to gain an understanding of what behaviors are acceptable in business and social settings, both online and in person. After completing your research, be sure that your online presence complies with these norms. In particular, pay attention to the communication style. Remember, as a potential employee, you are representing not only yourself, but your company. Companies that are reviewing your profile will be viewing it with this in mind. While the company does not dictate your social life, it is important to respect their values and image when it comes to your online presence.
- Re-evaluate your email addresses This is especially important when you are applying for a position online or when using your personal email address to communicate with colleagues or business contacts. You should always have a professional email address that clearly identifies who you are. You want your first impression to reflect clearly on who you are! Often this can be achieved simply by using your first and last name in some combination such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can add a middle initial, or if you add a number, be sure to keep it simple. Remember, your email address is your first impression in online applications and online networking. Your email should also be on your LinkedIn profile.
- Don't insult your current or previous organization, clients, or university on social media These days the internet is an increasingly small world. Your company or prospective employer may not actively follow or monitor your online presence. However, negative comments on Twitter, Google+, Facebook or other sites will make their way back to someone at your company. In the same sense, if you bash or complain online about an organization you are or were affiliated with, prospective employers may find this concerning.
- Avoid Critical Comments! Everyone is entitled to their opinion and the right to defend it. However, actively seeking to instigate negative or inflammatory discussions might reflect poorly on your online presence—especially in cultures that place a high value on loyalty. You have the right to express yourself, as does everyone else. However, be respectful and mindful of the exchanges you have online and how they may impact your global image in the eyes of a future employer.
- Engage in Global Groups! Social media sites help to initiate discussion and conversation. They can help you develop your network around the globe and support your goal to work abroad. Engaging in groups and positive conversations on topics that interest you can help your international job search! For example, if you join a global industry group on LinkedIn or post relevant articles of global interest to Twitter, you are establishing yourself as a knowledgeable professional in your field, regardless of your current location. This can be helpful at any stage in your career. However, it is a strategic approach to your global job search when re-entering the workforce, or as a recent graduate, or someone who has recently relocated to a new country. You never know what opportunities or contacts may arise from these interactions!
Posted on January 3rd, 2014 No commentsBy Meg Wallace, Social Media Manager Passport Career
- Learn the local language Whether you achieve business fluency or learn how to ask directions to the grocery store, learning the local language will help you win points on all fronts. In business relationships, learning the language is a sign of respect and of your commitment to working with the locals.
- Expand your network The best way to get your career on track is to strategically network. Use those new language skills to build relationships with coworkers and mentors. Your career will benefit and you never know where your new connections can lead!
- Plan some down time Every transition, be it across the hall or across the globe, comes with natural stressors. Be sure to plan some down time with friends and family in the coming year to enjoy time with the people most important to you as well as to earn their support and get the most out of your transition.
- Take stock of your strengths Allocate some time to inventory your transferrable skills, your strengths, and your weaknesses. The start of a new year is a great time to identify how you have excelled and what your goals are going forward.
- Revamp your Resume or CV No matter where your transitions take you, a well-crafted resume or CV is one of your strongest tools. If you’re a Passport Career member, check out the country-specific resume/CV guidance in the relevant Country Portfolios for specific ways to strengthen your resume or CV!
- Delve into the culture Similar to learning the language, there are endless benefits to immersing yourself in the local culture. You will expand your perspective, and may be able to approach problems or projects more creatively at work! Check out a vacation spot away from the tourists or celebrate a local holiday. Passport Career lists many of these places in the Making Contacts section of your destination country.
- Engage in country-appropriate etiquette Business protocol varies from country to country and even from region to region. To really excel in your career, take some time to learn about the business etiquette in your home country as well as your destination country. It’s key to study both so you can make comparisons and avoid a cultural faux pas.
- Invest in yourself and your career Evaluate your wardrobe and how you present yourself. If your employer did not provide you with business cards, or if you are seeking employment, invest in some locally-printed business cards from a reputable source.
- Keep in touch Be sure to maintain relationships with friends and coworkers back home. Social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to initiate contact and post updates on your life, but be sure to send a personal email every now and then to stay connected!
- Plan for success! To set yourself up for success you need to develop realistic goals for your time abroad. If you are a member of Passport Career, be sure to read the Job Search Overview in your destination’s Country Portfolio to get a picture of the local employment situation. Then set your goals accordingly. Spend time in the Strategic Approach section to master the key areas identified in the Business Culture section and apply that knowledge and cultural skills when you network with different groups listed in the Making Contacts section. Each listing of contacts includes guidance on how to network strategically with that type of group. Be realistic with your goals, be positive about the outcome, be strategic with your approach. No returning home with regrets!
Posted on December 17th, 2013 2 commentsBy Meg Wallace, Social Media Manager, Passport Career While networking is generally considered to be a western concept, the truth is that networking is found to be the key to successful career moves across the globe. “Networking” may be called different things, such as “making contacts” or “calling on others,” but it is not unique to the western culture. Networking can be loosely defined as connecting with others, meeting new people and making contacts. Different cultures throughout the world have their own strategies for networking, but the benefits of successful networking are valuable no matter where your career takes you. 1. Learn the local networking etiquette Each culture has its own social protocol and norms that define human interaction. In order to be successful in networking, you must first have a basic understanding of the social norms and networking etiquette in your destination culture. Direct strategies may work well in some areas of the globe but may be a complete breach of protocol in others. 2. Play to your strengths Many professionals dread networking as an awkward series of brief interactions driven by small talk. This can be true in some situations, but if you target your networking to settings that are comfortable for you, the awkwardness of networking can dissipate. If you are a more outgoing person, you may do well at large events where you can meet and chat with many people. Your energy will make you memorable, and your outgoing personality will allow you to be engaged with each of them. If you are a more reserved person, it may be best to target smaller, more intimate settings where you can spend more time with one person and won’t have to compete to make connections. 3. Don’t get discouraged Networking can be tough. Relationships take time and need to be nurtured, much like plants. While you may click immediately with some people, others will take time to get to know you and become valuable contacts. This can be especially difficult when dealing with the stress of relocation and the adjustment to a new city. Be patient and don’t give up. Your network will soon see the value you bring to the table! 4. Give back! The key to a successful relationship, whether it be social or business related, is a symbiotic balance. Be sure to contribute as much to the relationship as you would like to get out of it. This is especially true in relationship-based cultures, where business relies on the personal relationship between the individuals as well as economic interests. 5. Get out of your comfort zone If we never leave our comfort zone, we eventually run out of room to grow. Networking provides us with a chance to grow personally and professionally! Check out events at your local consulate, expat groups, industry events and local religious centers for new opportunities. WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NETWORKING AROUND THE GLOBE? Passport Career provides more detailed career and cultural information and extensive resources about finding a job, internship, or alternative career opportunity in over 80 countries. If you organization, embassy, university/college, library or other institution would like access to our country portfolios (15,000+ pages of expert content for 80+ countries and 250+ cities_ to share with your students, employees, spouses/partners, and others managing a national or international career transition, please click here to contact us or (send an email to passportcareer.com) regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR TRANSITION! Photo Credit: iStock
Posted on October 28th, 2013 3 commentsBy Meaghan Wallace, Social Media Manager, Passport Career In general, the way that different cultures view time can be described as a spectrum with monochronic or polychronic at either end. While there are cultures that fall in between, when planning a transition abroad it is a good idea to understand which end of the spectrum your native culture falls closest to and which end your destination culture falls closest to. Monochronic Cultures In a monochronic culture, people tend to place a high value on timeliness and schedules. They focus on the value of time, and therefore tend to have a very rigid interpretation of how to organize their schedules. Monochronic people generally prefer to do one thing at a time and to devote their full concentration to the task at hand, whether it be completing an assignment for work or school or having coffee with a friend. Cultures typically described as monochronic can be found in North America, Northern Europe, and parts of Asia. Polychronic Cultures In a polychronic culture, people tend to focus more on what they are doing than the timeframe in which it is happening. They thrive at multitasking and are not bothered by phone calls or interruptions. They tend to build strong personal relationships, and often see the development of this relationship as their end goal rather than the task at hand. Cultures typically described as polychronic can be found in Latin America, Southern Europe and the Middle East. What to Expect In business meetings with international colleagues, it is good to have a clear understanding of the perception of time of both the host and the attendees. When attending a meeting run by a monochronic person, it is best to arrive early and be prepared to start exactly on time. On the other hand, in a meeting run by a polychronic person, it is possible that the meeting will be delayed and will start with the attendees catching up on each other’s personal lives in order to strengthen their interpersonal ties. It is important when working as an expat or with expats to ensure that everyone has a clear perception of the timeline and agenda expected from the meeting so that no one leaves feeling frustrated or left out. Quick Tips! When you schedule a one-on-one meeting with an international colleague or have an interview in a new country, it is important to consider your perception of time and consider the time perception of the others who will be at the interview. While it is always a good idea to show up on time for an interview, if you are planning to meet with a polychronic person, be prepared to wait or to make conversation with others around the office. Remember, you aren’t being ignored or put off! What may seem to be meaningless conversation to you is the first step toward building the all-important personal relationships that will help you success in a polychronic culture. The opposite is true for a meeting or interview scheduled with a monochronic person. They will likely be annoyed if you arrive late, or answer your phone during the meeting or interview. This behavior, perceived as rude or irresponsible by the monochronic person, could prevent you from getting the job or completing an important deal. As part of your pre-transition planning, it is key to determine your personal perception of time as well as that of your destination culture. It is also important to remember that these distinctions are a general guideline and not a rule. Speak with expats who have worked at your company or students who have attended your university before as well as those who have lived in the neighborhood and meet the locals. You can’t know for sure the individual perception of time of those you will meet, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare! WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT CROSS CULTURAL COMMUNICATION? Passport Career provides more detailed career and cultural information and extensive resources about finding a job, internship, or alternative career opportunity in over 80 countries. If your organization, embassy, university/college, library, or other institution would like access to our country portfolios (15,000+ pages of expert content for 80+ countries and 250+ cities) to share with your students, employees, spouses/partners, and others managing a national or international career transition, please click here to contact us (or send email to:firstname.lastname@example.org) regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR TRANSITION! Image Credit: ThinkStock
Posted on October 19th, 2013 No commentsBy Meaghan Wallace When transitioning to a new culture, it is important to consider the way in which that culture typically expresses itself. Described as a spectrum, the ways in which different cultures express themselves would have Expressive on one end, Reserved on the other and Variable in the middle. Emotionally Expressive Cultures In an emotionally expressive culture, people are generally described as loud and open. They tend to have more physical contact than their more reserved counterparts and less personal space. It is generally easy to read how emotionally expressive people are feeling which can help to navigate communication once you have learned the signs. Regions which are typically described as emotionally expressive include Latin America, the Mediterranean, parts of Africa and the Middle East. Emotionally Reserved Cultures In an emotionally reserved culture, people are generally described as quiet and sometimes aloof. They tend to have less frequent physical contact, reserving anything more than a handshake for immediate family and close friends. It is generally difficult to read their emotions, which can leave their more expressive counterparts at a loss for how to navigate communication until they develop a close relationship. Regions which are typically described as emotionally reserved include Eastern Asia and Northern Europe. Variably Expressive Cultures A variably expressive culture will lie somewhere on the spectrum between expressive and reserved. People from these cultures will have developed their own cultural norms for expression and physical contact and research on these cultures will be key to your understanding of cues in communication. Regions which are typically described as variably expressive include North America, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Africa and Western Europe. When planning a transition to another culture, it is important first to take a close look at how your culture expresses itself and if you express yourself in this manner. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- What do you perceive as strengths of your style of expression?
- How do you interact with people who are more expressive than you?
- How is this different from how you express yourself with people who are less expressive than you?
- Are they typically more or less expressive than you?
- How does this make you feel?
- Have you interacted on a regular basis with people from this culture before?
- How did those interactions go?
Posted on June 27th, 2013 No commentsBusiness cards are a crucial part of doing business and presenting oneself professionally. They are used internationally for exchanging contact information, developing networks, and maintaining professional relationships. When transitioning abroad, it is important to know that there are regional differences in both the content details and very importantly, in the etiquette of their usage. In Africa in general, business cards typically display a company’s name, logo, and webpage (if applicable), in addition to the name, position title, academic title, and contact details (such as business address, telephone number, fax, and email address) of the holder. The biggest difference among business card content in the various African countries’ is the acceptance of the use of professional titles when a person is not yet employed. Please make sure to check on the individual specifications for business cards in the country you are traveling to or living in. Also, be sure to check the local custom for exchanging cards. In South Africa, exchanging business cards is a common practice, but there is little ceremony involved. Most cards are exchanged during introductions and initial conversation. Be sure to treat the cards you receive with respect and to store them properly, in a case or folder rather than in a pocket. Commenting briefly on the card is also polite. Business cards in South Africa can include a personal e-mail address, and cell phone or fax number and should be written in English. Many print shops are available to design or print your business cards locally. In Kenya, business culture is flexible when it comes to the exchange of business cards. Cards can be exchanged during initial greetings or when parting. However, it may be a good idea to offer one’s business card upon meeting, especially at larger functions where people may leave without notice. Remember to offer and receive a business card with both hands or with the right hand. Avoid accepting the card with only the left hand. In Kenya, it is customary to exclude the home telephone numbers and physical addresses on the card. It is acceptable to give yourself a professional title, even if you are not yet employed. The business card should be written in English only. It is easy to have business cards printed in Kenya. In Nigeria, the more business cards you circulate to prospective employers, the higher your chances of being contacted about job vacancies. Business cards should generally be exchanged upon meeting, and should be accompanied by a handshake. Remember to offer and receive a business card with your right hand and to study it before putting it away. Business cards should be printed in the official language, which is English. Academic titles are very important in Nigeria, and should always be included if you have one. It is possible to have business cards printed in Nigeria. Business cards in Angola are typically exchanged upon an initial introduction. They essentially contain the same information as Western-style cards but it is not acceptable to give yourself a professional title that reflects your career field if you are not yet employed. If you are not with a company that will provide you with business cards, it is best to have cards made ahead of time. Ideally, the cards should be written in Portuguese and English, either with both languages on one side, or with one language on either side. Both formats are common. Business cards in Zambia are extremely important; they validate the holder as a serious professional. Cards are exchanged during meetings and other social functions. Business cards should always be in English and one-sided. It is acceptable to give yourself a professional title even if not yet employed. They are easily printed in Zambia. Business cards in Ghana and are normally exchanged when people are meeting or parting. They are also commonly referred to as call cards. It is acceptable to give yourself a professional title before securing employment, as long as it relates to your skills and academic background. The business card should be written in English only. It is easy to have business cards printed in Ghana. Business cards are important to have when working or looking for work in Côte d’Ivoire. It is generally unwise to list a professional title for yourself if you are currently unemployed. The official language of Côte d’Ivoire is French, but it is acceptable to have dual sided business cards in English and French. Quality business cards can be purchased in Côte d’Ivoire. In Ethiopia, people exchange business cards after greetings or during meetings and professional encounters. Business cards are exchanged without any formal protocol. Make sure you present and receive business cards with the right hand only or with both hands. Some people working in international institutions or multinational companies have two-sided cards, one side in Amharic and the other in the main language used in his or her business endeavors. The same information is on both sides. Translating cards into Amharic may not always be necessary but would certainly impress recipients and show respect to those you wish to do business with. Business cards in Egypt are very common. Business professionals, store owners, clerks, and taxi drivers often use them. As business in Egypt is primarily based on initial appearances, having a business card is a way to provide credibility to yourself and to the business that you are representing. Business cards in Egypt can be exchanged at any time. Often cards are exchanged when the conversation turns to how to contact that individual, not necessarily during initial introductions. When you receive a business card, be sure to study it carefully. Take the time to read the card, not just stick it into your business card holder. Ask questions such as the best time to call at the listed phone number. When you are handing out business cards, do so in a way that ensures it can be read as you are handing it over. Business cards in Egypt include the standard content found on western cards, however it is not uncommon to add more information. Having your business card translated into Arabic conveys a respect of the local culture and will be greatly appreciated by professionals in Egypt. Business cards should be printed in English on one side, and Arabic on the other. It is not difficult to print business cards in Egypt; however, printing out business cards prior to your arrival will ensure that you have a supply until you find a reliable print shop. Oftentimes your employer will take care of printing out business cards for you. Compiled by Lucia Kolaja Bordean, Program Specialist, Passport Career WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HOW TO FIND A JOB IN AUSTRALIA OR OTHER COUNTRIES? Passport Career provides more detailed career information and extensive resources about finding a job, internship, or alternative career opportunity in Australia and other countries. If your organization, embassy, university/college, library, or other institution would like access to our country portfolios (15,000+ pages of expert content for 75+ countries and 250+ cities) to share with your students, employees, spouses/partners, and others managing a national or international career transition, please click here to contact us (or send email to: email@example.com) regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR TRANSITION! Photo Credit: iStock