Heard of Hand Raisers? They Thrive on Expat Living and Organizational Autonomy

Heard of Hand Raisers? Plus Relocation calls these eager would-be expatriates just that: Hand Raisers. Who are they? They want to expand their career and they see a global transfer as a step up. They value experience and new adventures and the thought of staying in one location for life makes them cringe.

And guess what?! These Hand Raisers are not all millennials; in fact, a majority of them belong to the Gen-X generation and fall roughly in the 35-to-50-year-old age demographic. Millennials do follow closely behind and these are the ones who range from 20 to 34 years old.

In any case, this candidate might be a homegrown talent yearning for international travel; they also might be a loyal employee in one of the company’s global offices who want to test their mettle in the world’s tech capita, the San Francisco Bay Area. Regardless of where they are currently based, this talent makes the first move and put themselves on the running.

Sometimes the global mobility manager is taken by surprise when these talents reach out to them personally–and not because their employers required them to do so. And yet this trend is one that is expected to increase over the years. Global mobility managers will have more eager candidates looking to see the world.

What global mobility managers should leverage on is the would-be candidate’s desire for autonomy.

A paper published by Maike Andresen, Franziska Berdolt, and Jil Margenfield called these Hand Raisers by another term: self-initiated expatriates. Contrary to the popular thinking that young assignees just want to travel the world for the sheer excitement of doing so, these Hand Raisers actually thrive on organizational autonomy.

They know that they will be given opportunities in leadership once they are assigned in foreign posts. Some of them even look for the more challenging assignments where they can solve the toughest tasks, survive the most difficult ordeals, succeed in what they are doing and shine — with the home office taking due notice.

Another thing that global mobility managers should do is find out how much support the home office and management will give to the application of this Hand Raiser.

Certain questions will be asked — and not all of them will give responses according to the candidate’s liking. Will the candidate be a more effective and better asset to the company overseas or right at home?

What will it cost the company to effect the transfer — not just in terms of compensation but in time and effort in finding a suitable replacement, or additional investments like training which might ensure that the candidate does succeed in the post?

Some candidates who initiate the move to travel for work are actually willing to take a pay cut or accept a more reduced compensation in return for concessions like work-life balance and paid travels (or so-called “low cost travel adventures”) within the country of employment.

Ultimately, it all comes down to balancing the candidate’s chances of success, management’s openness to letting them go, and naturally their own qualifications and credentials which should make them an asset to the assignment.

Global mobility managers can and should welcome the initiatives of these Hand Raisers. At the most, they just might have a qualified assignee on their hands. At the worst, they can always tell the candidate that the opportunity is not right for them this time —  but their names can be placed in the talent pipeline for future consideration.