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Tuesday 27 April 2010

Top professionals want careers abroad – and the recession is no barrier

New research reveals elite professionals overwhelmingly want to move abroad – not to escape the recession, but to advance their career in a highly competitive, global market.
The 2010 Hydrogen Global Professionals on the Move Report reveals that for 60 percent of respondents the recession has had ‘no impact’ on their willingness to move overseas, and 94 per cent are either already working internationally, or want to do so.

This groundbreaking study is of 3,155 mid- to senior-level professionals earning an average salary of $125,000 USD and virtually all holding a professional qualification or above – half with postgraduate degrees such as an MBA.

The research was conducted for Hydrogen Group by a consultancy project team from ESCP Europe business school and offers insight into the mindset and motivations of highly qualified professionals at a time of uncertainty and flux in the global recruitment market. It uncovers a clear willingness of professionals to work abroad and explores both the reasons they look to do so and their favoured countries for relocation. However the chosen location don't always match up with where there is most demand for highly qualified talent.

Existing research in this area relates largely to tracking more junior or lower skilled workers, but this report breaks ground by focusing on the migratory patterns of professional level employees, with sector-specific analysis for the professional disciplines of finance, technology, engineering, legal and HR. Among the top findings:

•    Mid- to senior-level professionals are highly mobile high flyers, with some 94 percent of respondents either already working abroad or interested in doing so. They see international experience as a key means of fast-tracking their careers and boosting their personal development. Greater earning potential is not in itself a top priority for this demographic.

•    The economic downturn is not a major factor in middle- and senior-level professionals' mobility, with 60 percent of respondents stating it had no impact at all on their willingness to move overseas.

•    In contrast to research into migration of lower skilled workers, for this demographic moving abroad is not about escaping recession. Their preference is for temporary periods abroad, not permanent relocation, with 64 percent of respondents willing to work in another country for up to five years.

•    The US, UK and Australia are consistently the top countries preferred by this demographic - though in most cases the popularity of certain countries does not correlate with where recruitment demand is greatest (for many sectors, the Middle East and Asia, for example)

•    While more men say they would definitely move abroad, more women are actually in jobs overseas. When asked 'How likely are you to move abroad?' 34 percent of women reported they were already working abroad, compared to 26 percent of men. However, 40 percent of men said they definitely wanted to go, as opposed to only 30 percent of women.

•    Recruitment consultancies were the most popular means of securing jobs abroad, with 28 percent of professionals already overseas having used one, followed by the use of head hunters by 16 percent. In contrast, the majority of respondents not yet abroad but who were interested in doing so (64 percent) were more likely to have simply done internet research about moving overseas, with only 15 percent actually having spoken to a recruitment consultancy.

Commenting on report's findings, Tim Smeaton, Chief Executive Officer of Hydrogen Group, said: "The clear message coming through in the research is if professionals are serious about taking up the opportunities that await them overseas, they need to get serious about what they're doing to make it happen," says Smeaton.
"Surfing the internet will never provide the specialist advice – or facilitate actual job opportunities –  that recruitment consultancies and head hunters can provide," he adds.

The research throws into sharp focus that for this elite demographic, international experience is a proactive career and life choice motivated by the desire to fast-track their career, have a better quality of life and further their personal development. Says Smeaton: "The research indicates that greater earning potential is not in itself a top priority for professionals when looking to work abroad. For high fliers already on high salaries, a post overseas has to have the right fit with their overall career and life plan to be worth the move."

He continues: "It's not a case of going where the jobs are, but of where the right jobs are and that's very much the mindset we're seeing in professionals we're placing in roles around the world."

Critically, demand is there for this demographic, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, and that demand is driving the increased mobility of professionals, explains Smeaton: "The world is fast becoming one global market, which means businesses increasingly need to compete for talent on a global scale. We've seen a dramatic increase in our clients looking to hire candidates who already have international experience and who can therefore give the company competitive advantage as they break into new countries and markets."

The research has clear implications for the global recruitment market post-recession, according to Dr Claudia Jonczyk, Associate Professor of Organisation Studies at ESCP Europe. She says: "When things do pick up, the global war for talent will intensify even more, and the companies and countries offering the best conditions – not only financially, but overall with regard to quality of life – will attract the best talent who, as the research indicates, are highly mobile and flexible."

Notes to editors:

The 2010 Hydrogen Global Professionals on the Move Report is based on the results of a major online survey that ran for one month during December 2009/January 2010 and attracted 3,155 responses from professionals of 76 nationalities working in the sectors of finance, legal, HR, engineering, and Technology.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the Hydrogen Group website at

The survey was conducted by a consultancy project team from the ESCP Europe business school and examined the opportunities and motivations of middle- and senior-level professionals to working abroad.

The home country of the majority of respondents (46 percent) was the United Kingdom, with the remaining coming from a fairly even spread of countries in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia.

The vast majority of respondents (over 65 percent) were mid- and senior-level professionals earning in excess of $76,000 and virtually all held qualifications of a bachelor degree or above. Reflecting the average work experience expected of professionals in middle and senior management positions, over 90 percent of respondents had five or more years' work experience.

Hydrogen is a global specialist recruitment group which focuses on finding and building relationships with the high-quality specialist candidates that client companies have difficulty sourcing themselves. Hydrogen recruits across the professional disciplines of Finance & Accounting, Technology, HR, Legal and Engineering.

ESCP Europe is the oldest business school in the world, founded in 1819 by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry. With five campuses across Europe – London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid and Turin – the School offers a range of specialised masters programmes, a European Executive MBA, and bespoke and open executive education programmes.

Contact details

For more information about the 2010 Professionals on the Move report, or to arrange interviews, please contact Margaret Kubicek or Fiona Leslie at Communications Management at the following:

Margaret Kubicek - or 01727 737981

Fiona Leslie - or 01727 733884

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