For laid-off IBM workers, a job in India?
An IBM program offers some incentive to relocate. Americans who have migrated overseas find less pay – but a good lifestyle.
Delhi and Pune, India
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But over the past year, the company began offering US workers who are facing a job cut a novel carrot: If you apply for a new IBM position in a foreign country and are hired again at local wages, we will cover some of the transition costs like visa fees.
Few IBMers have taken the offer, and the firm has taken public relations lumps over it. But a handful of pioneering Americans at other firms have started to shop their skills on the Indian market, finding fulfillment and job security at a time of deep recession back home.
The IBM offer hints at a future where it’s not just skilled Indians who might have to travel halfway around the globe for a job. It’s likely that more American job seekers will have to think globally, say analysts, and the experiences of Americans who have taken jobs with companies here say it’s not something to fear.
“I was making six figures when I left the States. I’m making six figures here – in rupees,” laughs Jeanne Heydecker, a marketing executive now living outside of Delhi and working at her third Indian company. The salary for this single mother actually translates to roughly $50,000 a year. But it would be a mistake to suppose her quality of life has gone down.
Most everything she could want is available in Delhi. The healthcare, she says, has been top-notch and bottom-dollar. And like most Westerners and wealthy Indians here, she is able to hire people to cook, clean, and drive for her.
“You can come home from work and focus on your family, not on maintaining the car and the housework,” she says.
She left Chicago in 2007 after realizing that she was bored at work and didn’t see companies nearby that were hiring “new people to do new things.” Through the social-networking site Linkedin.com and Skype, Ms. Heydecker talked with the head of a Calcutta technology company who eventually hired her sight unseen.
“Does the average American [worker] think globally? No. I don’t think we’re at that stage yet. But it will happen,” he says. “Such a massive technological revolution will cause the borders to blur, if not disappear.”
“In previous recessions, we have seen such an increase in interest in overseas jobs, but not this time,” says Lisa Hystad, publisher of the International Career Employment Weekly. “Perhaps that is due to the many news stories stating that the economic downturn is worldwide.”
In IBM’s case, fewer than 20 people have taken up the offer for help in locating a new IBM job overseas, estimated company spokesman Doug Shelton, speaking Monday before the latest layoffs. He declined to make any employees available for interviews.
But the jobs in places like India are worth considering, Mr. Shelton suggested, saying that the cost of living is lower and international experience is highly prized in a global marketplace.