CFO Diary: How to embark on a career abroad


Global CFO Alvin Liew shares his top tips on how finance leaders should go about looking for and securing international jobs.

In many of my sharing sessions with the finance professionals looking to embark on a career abroad, often participants come back with the feedback: “Alvin, all those things you spoke of are wonderful, but the hardest bit is actually landing a job overseas!”

I wholeheartedly agree. That first move abroad, which opens up many other career opportunities, is becoming more elusive and difficult in a globally slowing economy. But finance professionals today have far greater job mobility and an array of tools (AI and tech) that can help in their job searches abroad.

Read more: Alvin Liew reveals what it takes to be a global CFO

Likelihood of landing a role abroad versus your approach

How you conduct your search for a role abroad correlates with the likelihood of getting it. The graph below depicts your likelihood based on your job search approach and the bigger the circle, the higher the likelihood and vice versa.

A. Applying for role abroad, home (least likelihood) – Applying online on job portals, without any connection or relationship with the prospective employer has the smallest likelihood to succeed. That’s fairly self explanatory. Without anything to enable you to stand out in crowded competition (and being a foreign candidate), your chances are slim to none.

B. Applying for role abroad, abroad – Sometimes, it works better to be in the country you wish to work at and be applying for roles. Simple things like having a local mobile number and address could ease the process of getting through the door.

C. Network, internal and external – Hiring is an expensive process and even more so when it’s a foreign candidate and it fails. Hence networking today (whether face to face or online on social media platforms) is a very important tool for finance professionals to leverage. Your social capital and past work experiences (former colleagues, direct and non-direct managers) are your best advocates for your competencies and fit to the new role.

D. Home-based role (highest likelihood) – The approach with the highest likelihood of success in getting you a role abroad is what I call ‘home based roles’ with opportunities for geographic mobility. You have a better chance of moving abroad if you choose an organisation or role that you know has opportunities for you to move abroad either via a short-term assignment or a global mobility programme. These companies are typically multinational corporations, or local companies with regional presence.

Using AI and technology

So now you know what the odds are based on the approach you choose to take. Here are some possible AI and tech tools you have at your disposal to increase your chances of landing that dream job. (There’s a plethora of tools out there, but I would focus on the ones that I’ve used, experimented with myself personally.)

1. Teal HQ – From time to time, I help review CVs, but comparing my reviews to what Teal can do, Teal AI beats the human touch (at least mine) hands down! Teal helps to craft CVs, plan your job search and manage follow-ups from your job interviews. Think of it as a job planning tool, even if you’re not in search mode.

2. Careerflow.AI – Your LinkedIn profile is your ‘window’ to the professional world and increasingly, recruiters and prospective employers. Career AI is a great AI tool to help you optimise your profile, suggests improvements to each sections, and scans LI jobs for possible matches to your skill set/experience/role.

3. Engage AI – We’re all using LinkedIn more to network, learn and interact. I am a big advocate of Engage AI, an online tool that helps to generate comments, engage with your network and craft LI posts (with suggestions, edits). I save a tremendous amount of time being more efficient in using LinkedIn and at the same time keep my engagement levels high on the platform.

4. Speeko AI – Virtual interviews are the norm these days, so unlike a face-to-face interview, it’s actually harder work to ‘sell’ yourself over Zoom than in a physical interview. So to prepare accordingly, I use Speeko AI to assist me in practising interview interactions and testing my enunciation. That additional edge of speaking confidently and enunciating well could make a world of difference in a highly competitive job application process.

I hope these could help you in embarking on a new career abroad sometime in your career journey. The AI and tech tools at our disposal today could help you get that extra edge over others and I am a great advocate of using them effectively to your benefit.

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