How to Negotiate a Project Management Package Overseas?

Project Management jobs are available all over the world, and are currently abundant and lucrative in emerging economies. So how can a Project Manager get and negotiate a package overseas?

Why Work Overseas?

In this day and age, Project Management jobs paying 6 figure salaries (and often tax-free) can be easily found overseas, in emerging economies. Some “unfortunate at home” Project Managers are able to easily find a good Project Management job on the Internet in a very distant country. These jobs tend to be attractive and a much better option compared to what the Project Manager has (or does not have) at home.

How to Get a Project Management Job Overseas?

This is the easiest part in case the Project Manager has the necessary experience. Simply searching and applying for a job on some of the better Project Management job websites can do the trick. If the qualifications of the Project Manager meet the requirements of the job, then one of the following may happen:

  • The Project Manager will be flown overseas for a job interview.
  • The Project Manager will have a job interview locally before assuming his role overseas.

As with all the other job interviews, if the Project Manager does well, then the company will offer him a job, and he’s now prepared to negotiate his contract.

How to Negotiate a Job Contract that Is Overseas?

Negotiating a contract overseas differs greatly from negotiating a contract at home, as the perks and the salary ranges are completely different (usually much higher). There are 3 factors that play a huge role in this negotiation (and listed in the order of importance):

  1. The country where the Project Manager is relocating to.
  2. The nationality of the Project Manager (in other words, the nationality of his passport, and not his country of origin). Note that this point is of the highest importance in some countries (where the Project Manager can get 3 times as much money because of his passport), but can be irrelevant in other countries.
  3. The position to be assumed by the Project Manager, as well as the industry he’ll be working in.

Researching the country the Project Manager is going to (as a rule, the riskier the country the higher the salary), studying the status of the citizens of his country in that country (is it favorable or not), as well as the salary range for a person with his position (taking into consideration the industry) are the starting point to a smart negotiation about the salary. Additionally, working overseas often comes with the following perks that should be negotiated, such as (listed in order of importance):

  1. Free return business class tickets for the Project Manager, his wife, and his children. Some companies even offer 2 return business fare tickets for the whole family per year.
  2. Free housing
  3. Free schooling for the Project Manager’s children
  4. Free international insurance
  5. Free company car (gas is paid by the company)
  6. Free phone lines (landline and mobile)
  7. etc…

The first item on the list above is a given as the Project Manager has to travel home at least once a year, with his whole family. The second and the third items on the list are the most important (the rest of the list is trivial) as they may cost a substantial amount of money (housing can easily cost more than $30,000/year and good schooling may cost up to $17,000/year/child). It is essential that the Project Manager negotiates these 2 items into the package as perks (e.g. the company handles the housing and schooling directly), and not accept to have a monetary compensation instead. Going with the latter option will expose the Project Manager to the following risks:

  • Inability to find decent housing/schooling within the budget set by the company, which may force the Project Manager to tap into his base salary to offset the difference.
  • Even if the company is giving more than enough money to cover those expenses, the Project Manager might have logistical problems to get adequate housing and schooling.

In short, the best thing a Project Manager can do is to negotiate a contract where the basic salary is independent from the perks, and all the perks are paid directly by the company to the respective service owner (such as the company paying the rent directly to the landlord). Additionally, usually companies (thanks to their operational experience within the country) pick decent areas for housing, as well as reputable schools for the children.

© 2010 Project Management Learning – Reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited without the written consent of Project Management Learning.

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