Dear Generation Y, no, unfortunately working abroad is no Paradise either

generationsPlenty of youngsters decide to try themselves out in a foreign country for the first time – often in a Western European one – whilst making a gap year or when finishing their studies. Their main idea behind the decision is they feel “it is going to be better there”. There is no doubt in it; when finding a correct employer, one can reach financial stability and experience more developed working conditions, however one must work abroad as hard as in Hungary, or even harder. The idea of future employees is often slightly different though.

In the daily operation of an agency dealing with international placements, it is a basic trend that generation Y – or at least its membersclose to generation Z – are not causing any surprises when it comes to the topic ‘expectations towards a new position’. They would like to receive the biggest amount of money in the fastest way possible, without trying hard, with a perfect working environment and conditions. A lot of aspects are crucial elements in the appearance of these delusions.

First of all, the well-known characteristics of the younger generation Y are worth to mention. Young people today have a completely different attitude than their predecessors had: they were basically born into the world of newest technologies, were raised in modern environments, having the feeling that the XXIst century is passing by so fast. Generation X, so their parents’ example for instance – who have the so called working hard and hard way to success way – is not trendy anymore. No one wants to “die” for a job and live a life at one workplace only. This is in general completely understandable, however the joint shallowness, Peter Pan effect, the delayed time for building up someone’s own existence often undermine the serious personal approach. As regards international recruitment it can be said from the HR point of view that serious attitude and humbleness are often a missing point from applications and in personal interviews. We receive short e-mails instead of required quality CV-s, half-way done cover letters and further types of unprofessional applications.

More candidates are counting on almost Senior positions matching their degree without having any experience, any appropriate language knowledge and/or attitude. In other cases they are striving for positions that require active, constant contact-keeping with clients, without having the proper language skills. Showing demotivation and tiredness during personal talks make them think they are going to be selected for a position. All in all, applicants often have a wrong idea about their capabilities. Having self-confidence is important but where does reality remain?

The trend is also a consequence of the fact that there is a too ideal picture in their minds about Western Europe and its working conditions. Higher life standard, positive mentalities, developed infrastructure, the state of well-being are attached characteristics of these countries. In general, this picture is real, although expectations and harder days do exist in foreign countries as well. We have to work as hard for our salaries as here in our home country. One can face difficulties and challenges abroad and we have to be prepared on these. An agency can help in such a preparation and they shall do this activity without charging candidates.

Regarding popular and neighboring countries –the UK, Austria, Germany – a point of view exists that: “my friend, Gábor already got a job and he went there without any experience or language knowledge”. As a consequence of this, they are over confident in interviews feeling “if he could manage it, I can do it as well without any serious efforts.” This is the mentality which is not acceptable abroad, so most of HR colleagues are going to say goodbye to these applicants first. According to our experience, there is a small group to work with. They are however appropriate candidates with stable goals, ideas and competences for taking the challenge.

A topic strongly connected to the issue is the financial aspect. As a recruiter I see a trend of growing demands here, too. In spite of the fact that candidates have a general idea about the higher volume of salaries abroad, a lot of times there is a sense of dissatisfaction on their faces when it comes to the topic, salary. If there is a pleasant working environment and a nicer team at one workplace, but another offers 10 eurocents more regardless the working environment, 90% chooses the latter option.

Why is there a financial aspect behind every decision and should this approach be acceptable ever? We are of course different and there is no doubt that we are all fighting for a better future, still it is inconvenient that as much important factors as planned employment, desire to learn and hunger for knowledge seem to disappear. According to my experience, short term financial benefits are winning over long term ones.

The question comes up; does HR have a role in this? Do we need more distinguished sourcing methods or more targeted job offers? Does rather the earlier phase of the process cause a problem (education, parenting)? Maybe none of them is to blame because in today’s fast paced society there is nothing else to do but to adjust?

What can HR expect from the future? How to treat the upcoming generation planning to go abroad? If we see such trends now, we have the right to be afraid of future challenges. Of course we have to adjust and we can do that. Perhaps the labour market “only” has to find the recipe for solving these problems?

Do not forget though that contrarily to the above mentioned examples we have plenty of other, positive experience, too. The technological revolution and the speed give place for never seen improvements and positive changes. Of course we cannot generalize the mentality of youngsters either, because there are thousands of agile applicants with serious plans for the future. So excuse us “Exceptions”! I am “a Y” as well, full of ambition, endurance and humbleness!


Lilla Sümeghy

international recruitment consultant, team leader




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