Globalization has brought a truth that almost no one questions: the labor market is, right now, international, and its tentacles reach everywhere. To traditional careers with a transnational approach (business, health or law professionals), a multitude of profiles are joined as professors, programmers or specialists in marketing or web design. “All professional activity is open to the possibility of an international relationship or to offer work options in third countries: network commerce, the biosanitary branch, the liberal professions, communications …” says Dámaso López, Vice-Rector for International Relations and Cooperation of the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).
“There is not one that is the most demanded. At any given time, doctors, nurses or teachers can claim us. These are opportunities created by the labor market, but others may disappear and others appear. ” But working in an international environment does not necessarily mean having to do it abroad: it is enough to do it in a company with labor relations with other countries, an expansion department or a multinational. In one way or another, candidates must gather a series of competences that are especially relevant.
Beyond the purely technical knowledge, which is supposed to be acquired in the university, Vocational Training or the same labor market, they highlight the importance of languages and mastery of a set of transversal skills that can make the difference between success and failure : they are called soft skills, related to our ability to interact with others and in high demand in any professional field (and even more in a multicultural environment). These are the keys to success:
English alone is not enough
Having a good level of English can help our career progress more rapidly. This is accepted by more than half of the managers who participated in the study English at work: a global analysis of English skills in the world of work, conducted by Cambridge Assessment English and the consultant QS. A percentage that, in Spain, is 19% of employers. “Globalization in the business world not only involves multinationals, but also any SME that wants to access foreign markets. Knowledge of languages, with English at the helm, is very important as a gateway to the world of work, ”says David Bradshaw, head of evaluation services for Cambridge Assessment English for Spain and Portugal. A skill that can be witnessed with certificates such as First, Proficiency or TOEFL.
English matters, but it is not the only language that should be known. Also Spanish and even Chinese, which is making its way in some markets. “In countries where China has lent money, especially in Latin America and Africa, they have arrived with their products and services, imposing themselves on price and increasingly on quality to their North American and European competitors,” says Octavio Rojas, founder of the TúaTú communication agency and teacher in the ESIC marketing and business school, in Madrid. In addition, “companies quickly ascend to employees who speak Chinese, while others go at another pace. In Spain, I have students of Chinese descent who have entered Huawei, and have ascended rapidly within the company because they speak the language, know the culture and share a series of values such as hard work and family. ”
Can it be too late to learn a language? For Bradshaw, the first thing to do “is to banish the myth that, after 40 or 50, it is impossible to learn languages. It can be done at any age by investing time and with good motivation. ” The constancy will be fundamental, taking into account that nowadays language learning has evolved a lot and prioritizes communication skills. In addition to traditional certificates, there are other specific ones for certain careers, such as the OET (Occupational English Test), specially designed for health professionals.
Flexibility and empathy
For Carolina Fernández, Human Resources Director of Telecoming, a company dedicated to developing technology to monetize digital services, “empathy allows us to eliminate any cultural barrier to focus exclusively on the professional or the person, and streamlines work processes, avoiding questioning ideas and understanding why decisions”. In addition, each country has a different idiosyncrasy: that a product or service has worked in one place does not mean that it has to do so in the rest.
Be aware of yourself
It is important to know your own abilities and have a strategy ready to face the different situations that may occur in an international context: if they do not understand you, for example, go to another language or be more visual. “Maybe, others don't see things the same way, so I have to adapt my speech so that others can understand me,” says Alberto Martínez, academic director of ESCP Business School.
Familiarization with the international environment
Speaking two or three languages helps (and much), but moving naturally in an international environment is equally essential. Something that should be cultivated since the formative period. Taking part of the studies in other countries will make the experience of that student “much richer, and will help him be more flexible in his relations with his work environment and will prepare him to better accept changes and developments,” says López , Vice Chancellor of the UCM. An international experience that can occupy a semester, an entire course or even some more, like the students of Bachelor in Management of ESCP Europe: the more than 130 students who are studying it passed for a first year in London or Paris, will complete the second in Madrid, Paris or Turin and will do the third in the French or German capital. “Facilitating students to move constantly in these environments prepares them to put their knowledge and skills into practice, and allows them to network,” Martínez explains.
And one more thing: you reside where you reside, be sure to expose yourself to the language as much as possible, looking for opportunities to exchange conversations with students of other nationalities. "That greater awareness of what other cultures have enriches you and makes you, in the end, develop skills that allow you to move around an international environment effectively," he adds.
Integration, adaptation and teamwork
Working in an international context is the best example that each member of a team has a different cultural and professional background. “These differences constitute a wealth of incalculable value for a company, since people who see the world differently will find different solutions to the same problem. Tolerance, adaptability and openness of mind are necessary to convert these international differences into an asset of great value, ”says Fernández.
Remember, also, that life does not end when the workday ends. If you work in another country, integrate into the local culture, experience and enjoy it will have a very positive effect on your well-being: “After working eight hours, it is important to appreciate the environment, customs, climate or leisure, so that life , in its 365 degrees, be the most enriching for the professional, his family and the project in which he is immersed, ”says Xavier Núñez, director of the EPITECH computer high school. And Rojas adds: "Being happy is being productive, and that makes up for the company."
Technological tools and local regulation
In each region there are different laws and regulatory processes. The main mistake made “is to extrapolate the processes and regulations of the country of origin to the rest. For example, patent laws or registration processes can be very variable between countries, ”says Pau Forner, a biotechnology graduate, professor of digital marketing and blog creator A life online.
The mastery of technological tools to work remotely and manage equipment is also essential in this area. As video conferencing between several attendees and even between different time zones is often necessary, programs such as Skype, Loom or Trello should be well managed. And above all, do not forget that your availability can make a difference: with customers in different time zones, it is necessary to make an effort to serve them according to their needs.
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