Most RPCVs know that learning the culture in another country is key to success in accomplishing your goals for your international experience. Equally, learning the business culture in your new host country is critical to making a strong first impression for an international job search. The nexus of culture and job search is where you will ultimately achieve job-search success. Almost everything you do in your job search will have some aspect of culture tied to it and that’s where your keen observation skills come into play. Everything from how to greet somebody in a professional setting to how you write your resume are intrinsically linked to the job search. Your ability to master the nuances of the culture will serve you well in your job search and throughout your career in the country. Below are five key business culture topics that you should observe and learn about before launching your job search

  1. Greetings and introductions: How do you greet others appropriately? How do you introduce yourself and introduce others?
  2. Appropriate dress: What should you wear? What should you not wear? What is acceptable for women and men in the workplace-particularly as an expat, when expectations may be different than for locals.
  3. Communication-both verbal and nonverbal: What is appropriate when speaking with others? What do your body language and gestures say about you?
  4. Time: What can you expect with regard to starting and ending appointments on time?
  5. Gender/age issues in the workplace and other workplace norms: How are women viewed and treated in the workplace? How does society view young workers versus older workers?

Developing your business cultural knowledge in these five key areas will help you project a professional image as well as help with your self-confidence. Be sure to ask yourself the questions associated with these five key areas often during your job search, as there may be nuances associated with different organizations or different regions of the country. Cultural nuances are myriad and complex, so do not rely solely on one source; rather, develop your ability to observe and mirror others’ behavior in professional settings.

We’d like to hear from you! What aspects of business etiquette have you noticed in your host country that is different from your home country? What tips do you have for other RPCVs?