A portable career is a career that you can take with you, wherever you go. It can gracefully move with you to a new city or new country - be it for several months or several years.
A portable career gives you more freedom to choose where you want to live and work, and helps you maintain a professional identity rather than starting over professionally every time you move somewhere new. It gives you more flexibility to organize your work to support your lifestyle, and can actually help you work less so you can enjoy life more. The portable career - or becoming an expat-preneur - is rooted in the idea that you can live where you want and do what you enjoy at the same time.
WHY A PORTABLE CAREER?
You may want to become an expat-preneur if you live or desire to live in a country where:
- You don't speak the language which makes you ineligible for most jobs.
- You don't have, or it is incredibly difficult to get, a work permit.
- You have specific credentials that are not accepted or recognized.
- There is little or no demand for your specific skill set so there are few to no work opportunities available.
- Salary levels are such that you cannot support your family and desired lifestyle.
Other reasons include:
- You want continuity in your professional life. Due to a spouse working for the foreign service or company with locations abroad, you move every few years. This requires you to start over professionally in a new place every time you move - a stressful and often frustrating process.
- You want to travel and experience the world. You want the freedom to come and go as you like. This may mean 3 months in one country, 3 weeks in another, and 3 days in yet another.
The first six items on this list seem to suggest that a portable career is a workable solution for dealing with some very difficult and specific challenges. Indeed, this is true.
However more and more I believe that people will be pursuing portable careers for the remaining item on the list - freedom and desire to live where they want while making a living doing what they enjoy. Both technological advances and marketplace demands are making pursuing a portable career a more viable and accessible choice to those with a preference for an international lifestyle.
PORTABLE CAREER OPTIONS
Historically, there have been few careers that were both truly portable and provided a livable income. These careers have included teaching, nursing, childcare or administrative support. However, with today's advances in technology - such as voice over IP programs like Skype, high speed internet connections, and the ability to setup up businesses and market your services online relatively easily - the list of portable career options is now much longer. And the possibility of becoming an expat-preneur much greater!
These are just some of the careers that you can take with you, wherever you are:
- Graphic designer
- Interior designer
- Web designer
- Computer programmer
- Virtual assistant
- Online business manager
- IT services
- Online storefront owner
- Online course designer
- Social media strategist
- Online community manager
- Digital media specialist
- PR/marketing specialist
- Online event organizer
- Online researcher
PORTABLE vs. NON-PORTABLE CAREERS
But how does a portable career differ from a non-portable career?
Let's take a closer look.
All fulfilling careers - portable or not - are comprised of certain things. They leverage a person's unique qualities and strengths, as well as their knowledge, skills and experience that they enjoy using. They allow a person to use their unique value or personal brand to make a real impact in their organization or the world while supporting their lifestyle.
That said, portable careers differ from non-portable careers in a several respects:
- Portable careers often involve services or skill sets that are generally in high demand in many parts of the world. Careers in education and training, healthcare and technology are often portable because the demand for services usually outweighs the local supply of talent. And employers are often willing to pay for state licensing or work permit documentation in order to hire highly skilled workers they need and cannot find locally.
- Portable careers are not primarily driven by credentials or degrees that are jurisdiction or location specific. Jobs that require certain qualifications or credentials that are not accepted in many locations can make pursuing a mobile career quite difficult. Law degrees and medical degrees are examples of credentials that are not readily accepted everywhere. If you are interested in a portable career and are planning on pursuing education or a certification, be sure to check how universally accepted that credential is before moving forward.
- Even though with some portable careers a person may decide to only work locally, in general portable careers to do not limit a person to their local market. In other words, portable careers can involve providing services virtually or selling products online. You could be a coach or consultant that provides local in-person coaching or consulting, but also provide services via phone or video chat globally. You might package your subject matter expertise in the form of an e-book, audio or video product and sell that globally as well. In fact, you could be running a business online that does not market to anyone at all in your local market.
- Portable careers usually involve regular engagement with technology and online business and communication tools, particularly if a person is providing services virtually or creating and selling products online. By technology what I mean is everything from email, online networks and voice over IP programs to communicate with colleagues, collaborators, potential employers and clients worldwide, to graphic or web design programs, blogging tools, and online payment programs to market yourself and sell your products or services.
- Having the ability to speak another language can make many careers very portable. By being able to do a job, provide service or market a product in another language, a person has immediate access to new opportunities and markets closed to others that don't have those language skills. If a person's language skills are strong enough, they could also be in a position to provide translation or interpretation services. A combination of strong language skills and a subject matter expertise or product in high demand can set you up for portable career success.
- And lastly, portable careers generally do not involve owning and managing brick and mortar businesses. Running a bed and breakfast, for example, is a popular career or business choice for people who want to live and work abroad. But the process of setting up that kind of business and the difficulties of selling or moving it make it less than ideal for someone looking for a more mobile lifestyle.
THE FUTURE LOOKS PORTABLE
The world is changing so quickly. There are ever-changing requirements for new skill sets and competencies. Organizations are becoming more and more global. Our demands for just-in-time services custom designed to meet our needs are increasing. Not only will many of the jobs of today be delivered or conducted virtually in the future, but I believe these demands and changes in the marketplace will lead to more specialized and virtual services in the market place.
These are just some of the jobs I'm envisioning for the future:
- Virtual Trainers and Presenters - I believe that video and telepresence technologies are going to redefine what online training and service delivery looks like. The line between online and "being live" will blur and people will opt for the most cost effective option which will likely be technology driven.
- Virtual Organizers - How many of us struggle to organize our digital worlds that exist in our laptops and beyond? Instead of organizing your home or office, these people will organize your files, email and systems via cloud technology.
- Virtual Community Leaders - The complexity of managing online communities is going to demand "virtual leadership" that we currently see now in informal ways but have not been formalized into roles as we know it. Currently we have online community managers, but as online communities and tribes have more influence and impact in business, the media and politics, these communities (and those that want to harness their power) will demand leadership that will require a different skill set than the leaders of businesses and communities of today.
- Virtual Legal Arbitrators - I predict an increasing demand for sorting out the legal ramifications and issues that arise from doing business in a borderless world will require this new role to emerge.
- Virtual Subject Matter Experts - The increasing demand for specialized content will mean that knowledge workers will be in high demand. As experts go deep and specialize and as technology evolves, those who are most sought after will be able to share and distribute their knowledge in ways that don't require them to be anywhere in particular to do it.
In fact, I use the word virtual here - but I believe in the future it will be a given that things are done online or via technologies that don't require us to be in any location to get a job done. The word will no longer be necessary.
As markets become more global and technology evolves, we are sure to not only see more portable career options available, but more people pursuing them to make their dream of an international, mobile lifestyle a reality.
Who will succeed in a more virtual market place where portability becomes more of the norm?
Those that commit to lifelong learning, engage with emerging technologies and are not attached to any particular job or career title but see themselves as a unique combination of qualities, skills, strengths and experiences that can be leveraged strategically to solve today's critical problems in the marketplace and the world.
EXPAT CAREER AND BUSINESS SUCCESS TIP: Are you an expat or accompanying spouse currently feeling unfulfilled because you either do not work or are unhappy in your current job? Are you an aspiring expat or expat-preneur held back from moving abroad because you don't believe you'd be able to find a work or a business you'd enjoy (or at all)? Do you have dreams of world travel but don't know how to pay for it? Does an international, mobile lifestyle sound appealing but you don't know what a career or business to support it would look like?
If so, I suggest reviewing the list above and pick out 2 or 3 career or business choices that you believe many be aligned with your purpose, values, passions, skills and experience. Do the research to see if any of these portable careers might be an option for you. Begin to learn what it means to work virtually. Set time aside each week for the research and a deadline for when you'll make the decision for each potential option you chose. Then you can begin to start taking action to become an expat professional or an expat-preneur!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ career by choice can help you...become an expat and experience a global lifestyle ~ explore international career options and find work abroad ~ understand your Brand DNA and how you perform at your best ~ clarify your personal brand so you can stand out and be sought after for top jobs overseas ~ develop marketing tools and strategies to communicate your unique expertise in a compelling way ~ strengthen your online reputation to attract employers and secure international jobs ~ become highly visible, recognized and well compensated for the value you create ~ overcome challenges and grow as a leader on international assignments ~ leverage social media to build your global online network ~ develop a global mindset ~ find an international career coach and experienced guide ~ conduct an international job search ~ optimize your choices and discover success abroad on your terms by being your best self. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~