11 Dec Global experience: why it matters and how you can get it
Technological innovation has changed all aspects of our lives, particularly the way we work. For Canadians to succeed in this increasingly complex and competitive world, they need to gain the experience that sets them apart and opens doors. Vital skills like leadership, collaboration, creativity, problem-solving and social and cultural awareness are becoming increasingly important. Global experience equips you with these skills and so much more – in fact, nine out of ten Canadians who have gone abroad say their experience has supported their career achievements [source].
To learn more about how working and volunteering overseas can help you stand out from the competition and achieve success in today’s job market, we interviewed recruitment expert Salvatore (Sal) Badali. Sal is a Partner in the Public Sector and Non-Profit practice of Odgers Berndtson, an international executive search firm with over 50 years experience finding top talent for some of the world’s biggest and best organizations. He is also a member of Canada World Youth’s Board of Directors.
When looking for candidates what are the top skills you look for?
Top skills we’re looking for in candidates, in general, are leadership characteristics. Relevant technical skills are essential, and we evaluate them, but what we’re really looking for are the leadership skills that go along with that. That is where international experience and a diverse background really helps make the difference between two people who are technically competent, but one has this extra dimension to their character. So, we look at: have they been involved in the community, do they communicate well, do they engender confidence in others, can they contribute to the organization and business objectives beyond their functional role whether that be legal, finance, or marketing, etc? If a candidate has followed a very narrow career path, it is going to be much harder to develop these leadership skills.
How does volunteering overseas set one candidate apart from the others?
Today, there is fierce competition for great talent. Our clients don’t ask us to deliver the perfect candidate, they ask for the perfect candidates, then they choose who is the best fit. It’s those candidates that come in with the ability to communicate well, who have diverse experience and backgrounds, international experience and community involvement that have a ‘leg up’. For a person to work overseas and experience a different culture, it enriches them; our clients see that.
Why do you think global experience is vital to success in careers today?
Most businesses in Canada are service oriented, requiring people to interact with others externally as well as internally. If you’ve worked in a different part of the world, you’ve experienced a different culture. Here in Canada, we have a very multi-cultural country; international experience will better equip you to be aware of, and accepting of diversity. And you want diversity because it brings diverse thought and you get better outcomes – those who’ve worked overseas will bring these different perspectives.
What can Canadians do to get the most from their experience working abroad?
First, you need to do it. While it can be difficult, particularly for recent graduates with student loans looking to start their careers, you need to look ahead and take the plunge. You will grow as an individual, you will be more well-rounded, you will be a better communicator and you will have great experiences. A year or two abroad does not mean you lose anything, you will only gain. If you don’t take advantage of these opportunities, you will be missing something.
What advice do you have for people currently, or considering, volunteering overseas?
Put your fears or uncertainties aside and do it. Do some research first and talk to others to help decide where you want to go – the world is a big place and you want to make the most of your time. You want to gain experience, but you also want to make a difference and have fun so doing your research about what’s right for you is important. Most of all, just do it because you’ll never regret it. Personally, it was the best thing I ever did when I finished school; all it really cost me was time (which was well spent). It was an enormously rewarding and enriching experience that I still draw on today, many years later.
Volunteering overseas is a truly unique and transformative experience. That’s why EQWIP HUBs offers Canadians life changing international volunteer opportunities in Bolivia, Ghana, Indonesia, Peru, Senegal and Tanzania. Working in partnership with a global network, you will collaborate with local youth seeking new, job-ready skills and acquire some of your own in the process. With departures throughout the year in January, March, May, July, September and November, you can find the right position for you based on your skills and availability.