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Job horizons grow when workers learn languages, seek overseas projects

Are you willing to work on a short-term project? Does the idea of working in another part of the country or overseas for a few months or a year or two appeal to you? If so, you are right in line with a major trend going on in corporate America these days. And, if you are open to learning foreign languages and cultures other than Chinese and Spanish — say Portuguese— you are also on the crest of a wave.

Short-term projects

Websites like note a growing trend among job seekers. They are taking on a short-term project. The site says, "Project Assignments may be more available than full-time jobs and you should look for them whenever possible, for the following reasons:

• They create some income while giving you the opportunity to continue your job search.

• You can put them on your resume so you do not look like you have not been working.

• They provide something interesting to do as looking for a job full time is not a very rewarding experience; a better frame of mind during an interview will reflect a more favorable attitude.

• You can work nationwide from home as many projects are not site-based.

• They may extend to longer assignments or full time positions."

These short-term assignments are especially good for older workers because they are more experienced. This group often requires less training and is more accustomed to taking on these types of projects. And, because many older employees are having a tough time finding full-time work, the short-term assignment may be just the thing to get them back in the job market with an enhanced resume. The site includes project opportunities in marketing, training, sales, engineering, finance and human resources.

Unusual language skills: Another trend shows that while English dominates the business world, and Spanish and Mandarin Chinese are still important languages to have under your belt, others, like Portuguese, are coming up fast. Why? American companies are quickly expanding into Brazil and other countries where Portuguese is the native tongue. Brazil makes up 48 percent of South America's economic power. And. while the country has had its economic ups and downs, oil, mining and manufacturing are fast-growing economic sectors.

Most people in large cities speak English, but once you are assigned to a smaller or more rural area, there are fewer English speakers. You'll have to communicate in the native language and understand native customs and cultures. For example, the website notes: "Expats should be especially aware of the fact that working in Brazil is usually possible only with sufficient knowledge of Portuguese." Even in some sections of the People's Republic of China, Portuguese dominates. For example, in Macau, where tourism, textiles and finance are major economic drivers, Portuguese is the dominant tongue.

And remember if you are doing business in countries outside the United States, attitudes, backgrounds and culture will be different. Negotiating with people who speak your language when you don't speak theirs means they understand more about you than you do about them. That can be a huge business disadvantage.

Marie Stempinski is president and founder of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations, marketing, business development trends and employee motivation. She can be reached at or through her website: www.howtomotivateemployees.

Job horizons grow when workers learn languages, seek overseas projects 10/14/12 [Last modified: Sunday, October 14, 2012 4:30am]
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