Article Published on 09-03-2020

Are those who want to work abroad ‘different’?

Whether it is short-term or long-term, working abroad seems like a very attractive perspective to most. A different culture, a different climate, new career possibilities – plenty of reasons why a move abroad can be so enticing. It does, however, raise an interesting question: do those who want to work abroad feel different about the job market? Based on recent job market behaviour research by Intelligence Group, this article will attempt to answer that very question.

Short or long stay?

We have split those who want to work abroad into two categories: those who want to leave (the Netherlands) for a lengthy spell abroad, and those who seek a short or lengthy stay abroad in order gain experience. We have compared the two categories and intertwined them with a sample of the Dutch working population (NBB). One major conclusion can be drawn immediately: men have the upper-hand, compared to their female counterparts, when it comes to both short and long experiences abroad.

Bye, bye to the highly-educated!

Of every four with an academic-level education (16% of the working population), one seeks an experience abroad, be it long or short. Those with vocational degrees (43% of the working population) tend to want to stay put. If we take the total numbers of those who want to emigrate, they represent only 36% (short-term) and 35% (long-term). Those with a higher vocational degree are slightly over-represented in the group that wants to work abroad for a short or longer period, while those with a pre-vocational secondary education are largely under-represented. However, when referring to a group ‘that thinks of emigrating’, both segments are represented equally.

Source: Intelligence Group, 2019

More ageing?

What we can see is that the elderly are clearly not intending on moving abroad any time soon, particularly in comparison to the younger generation. Though 15 to 19-year-olds are still somewhat hesitant, we see that 25 to 29-year-olds are lining up en masse for an ‘experience abroad’. Furthermore, all segments within the 25-44 age-group are slightly over-represented among people who want to work abroad for a long time. No less than 28% of the working population belongs to the 50+ age-group. Again comparing that statistic to the age-group’s stock in the emigration folder, it is only represented 23% for short-term, and 24% for long-term stays. Therefore we can state that short or long-term emigration has a slight reinforcing effect on the ageing of a population…

Source: Intelligence Group, 2019

Sector and field of study

If we look at the educational levels of people who want to work abroad and the sector they work in, we see very little surprises. Those who have degrees in tourism and sport and recreation are relatively far more interested in working abroad – with the former being the clear-cut number one… to no one’s surprise. Those who graduated in business administration and economics, though their numbers don’t compare to the above-mentioned sectors, are also generally interested in working abroad. The healthcare sector is the main sector that seems noticeably uninterested in working abroad.


Those who seek job opportunities abroad are more often, if not actively, on the look-out for a different job. They use an above average amount of job sites, recruitment and selection agencies, search-engines and social media. As a result of their short or long -term explorative mindset, they also tend to spend a higher-than-average amount of times on their online findability. The percentage of those who are approached by a recruiter is bigger than the average for the entire working population (31%): 37% for long-term adventure seekers, 41% for short or long-term adventure seekers.

Pull factors

Taking working conditions and pull factors into account, there is not too much to be shocked about in comparison to the working population averages. Not keen on putting down any roots just yet, those who want to work abroad do not care much for working close to home. Furthermore, they do not seem to worry about permanent contracts too much. As far as working conditions go, abroad goers also deem a pension plan as less important.

Why go?

The group that is seeking a short or long-term stay abroad was posed a simple question: ‘Why?’. A new challenge (41%), getting to know different cultures (32%) and gaining (work) experience (31%) were mentioned as the most important motives. Those who seek a long-term opportunity abroad also often mention ‘climate’ (30%) and ‘starting a new life’ (42%) as reasons for a desired departure.


Reasons to work abroadNBBLong-term Long-term and short-term
Gain work experience28%20%28%
Career / career opportunities17%14%17%
Challenge myself41%37%41%
Experience different cultures32%30%32%
Learn a new language16%17%16%
Make a difference11%10%11%
Meet new people / expand my network22%20%22%
Possibility to gain experience31%24%31%
Start a new life26%42%26%
Start an international career15%16%15%
Better standard of living11%16%11%
Salary conditions / rate17%13%17%
Work for an international company17%16%17%

Source: Intelligence Group, 2019

Need more insight?

As a recruiter, it is absolutely essential to keep up with recent developments of your target audience. With the Giant!, you will have access to data from 28 countries in Europe and info on a total of 750 professions. It allows you to view the recruitment feasibility, which pull factors and which working conditions are important. Furthermore, it will give you insight as to what job boards and social media your candidates use. This will all help you develop and enhance your recruitment strategy for the European labour market. The data that we use, all stems from our own European job market research: the Global Talent Acquisition Monitor (GTAM) and from Textkernel’s Jobfeed. If you would like to receive more information about the dashboard, please request a demo.