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Science Careers Blog

April 5, 2011

Top Qualities for Expatriates

A Chronicle of Higher Education column published last Sunday discusses what personal qualities make it easier for expatriates to adapt and thrive in a new culture and environment. The column was written by Rudolph Young, the human resources director for the Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates.  

Young highlights "extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability" as the "big five personality factors" that contribute most to success abroad. When assessing expatriates, Young also looks at "how effective people are at working in intercultural situations, stress-management ability, personal hardiness (ability to cope with negative events in a resilient and resourceful manner), and emotional intelligence (the ability to gauge an appropriate and constructive emotional response)," Young writes.

The costs of not adapting can be very high both for the expatriate and the hiring institution. For the employee, the consequences of an unfortunate move can "include unemployment, delayed career development, damaged relationships, and interruptions in their children's education," Young writes. As for hiring institutions, "Relocation, housing, education assistance, travel, and repatriation can make the cost of hiring an expatriate triple that of a domestic employee."

Young suggests assessing job applicants' personality during selection to better evaluate the risks and help recruits adjust to their new living and working environment with an individual development plan.

Read the full article here

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