The return from abroad for many candidates has been met with lack luster results here at home. I know it’s frustrating. I’ve been on the other side of the phone with dozens of these candidates and have found that they are not all the same…not by a long shot. There are many that truly are international developers, designers and construction managers. Their resumes show long stints with reputable companies and a solid project history to back up their story.
They are very accustomed to accomplishing a myriad of tasks on a plane, in a car, in the desert. You name it. So when it comes to interviewing they’re a bit stifled to learn that very few US based companies will entertain a candidate from abroad. Skype interviews are not as popular as you might think and post-recessionary will to buy an unknown candidate a plane ticket is at an all-time low. The need for local jurisdictional and trade knowledge is also quite desired and without that the client just moves on to the next candidate. It’s not fair and I wish we could overcome it. It is happening, but slowly.
The next candidate is the optimistic ex-patriot that was driven to find work in foreign lands after the US real estate economy crashed in 2008-2011. There were no opportunities left in the states and those with the ability to relocate to areas of the world like the UAE, China, South Korea and so on did so. The lack of educated and capable human talent (engineering, construction ,design, real estate) in those areas of the word is a real problem and therefore candidates from the US and other Western Countries where welcomed with open arms. The pay and the tax benefits were decent but the real problem is that these companies had no idea who they were hiring or how to induct them into their daily practice. Many of these opportunities lasted only a few months as the financial crisis continued to sweep the globe and for these foreign companies it was easy to eliminate excess American overhead. Candidates found themselves stuck abroad for years working for any real estate, design or construction entity that they could as there were still few opportunities back home.
Now these candidates have returned or are looking to return to the US and are having a hard time finding a place to rest their hat. One major reason is that several of these candidates had spotty career histories in the US to start with and now their resume is glowing with amazing projects and accomplishments overseas. It’s a bit confusing to the reader and there is very little you can do to find out if the candidate really was or was not as heavily involved in these mega-projects as their resume portends. Most client’s go with their gut and assume that the resume is a large embellishment (and they are usually right). In addition clients’ in the US want candidates that are fully adapted in western building codes and they realize that many countries have very little in the way of official code compliance , building permits or any standard of safe construction methodology. Seeing a long history of building in the lesser developed areas of the world does little to encourage a client to interview these candidates.
Here are some tips to help good candidates garner more attention:
- Stick to the facts. Don’t over emphasize items that you had nothing to do with. I see resumes where candidates are taking credit for 360 degrees of mega projects in the UAE but were only with that particular company for a few months. The sad part is I’ll see 10 more resumes from the same company claiming almost the exact same thing. Don’t put yourself in a bad light by doing this as it’s not an original thought.
- Client’s aren’t dumb. They can quickly size up your prior history with what you’ve claimed to have accomplished. Be truthful and focus on your strengths. Don’t throw fictitious accomplishments in just because you know the client isn’t going to fact-check you. It will bite you in the keister eventually.
- If you can, become local again. As I mentioned clients aren’t overly eager to buy plane tickets and like it when a candidate is close by for an impromptu interview. If you have the means push out a few resumes to the city of your choice and then go ahead and move there and continue your efforts. It will greatly increase your odds of success. Again, if you can afford it.
- Dates of employment. You’re going to get asked for these anyway and it’s always a bad first impression to exclude your dates from your resume. Put them on your resume and be truthful.
- Don’t leave out an employer. In the digital age it’s easier than ever to find a client “career trail”. If you bring in your resume and it’s different from say…linkedin, the client is going to play waste-basket basketball with your resume. Many candidate moved between several firms overseas. It might feel awkward but just talk about how each firm relates to the other and it should meld away as one big experience versus several small ones.
It’s a tough situation, no doubt, but one that you can overcome with some extra effort and a forthright resume.
Gillian Executive Search is a leader in recruiting Real Estate Construction, Development, Architecture and other related fields.