Global Assignment or telecommute

I’m an Asian American living in the US and I’ve always had a dream to live in Taiwan. However, one of my conditions is that I would also need a job I like. The majority of jobs for foreigners is teaching English and I don’t want to teach English because I’m in love with computers and software development.

One day I decided to try living in Taiwan as a software developer. I was able to get in touch with a staffing agency and was set up with a software development job. I tried it out and really liked it. However, because I was directly hired as a local, I was paid the same amount as a local and was not used to the salary. After a few months I realized that this wasn’t going to meet my financial expectations and left.

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to have the best of both worlds. Staying in Taiwan while earning a US salary. I’ve come up with two possibilities. One being telecommuting and the other is getting a global assignment (being hired in the US and sent to Taiwan). I don’t know if telecommuting will work because I imagine it might be pretty lonely working at home everyday. Also, it seems very rare to find a job that will let me telecommute for such an extended period of time, what do you guys think? Maybe I can find some software development gigs but I’m not sure if I can consistently find work. I am more interested in getting a global assignment, but I’m not sure how I go about doing it. Does anyone that has been sent on a global assignment for a software company have some tips on how to intentionally get sent to Taiwan for several years?

Any thoughts or opinions would be appreciated, even if it’s not one of the above mentioned strategies. Thanks.

Although there might be global telecommuting jobs as you mentioned, I have never heard of anybody actually doing this.

My comments below are only about international assignments.

Obviously you won’t get the much higher salary you dream of for doing the same as before. International assignees are sent to do tasks in locations where no local can do them.

The idea of what these tasks are differs between companies, but generally falls into the following categories. If you have any of the skills needed here, you might be able to convince a company that you are worth the extra expense of an international assignment. If not, you might have to accept that market forces will set your salary in line with your local competitors for the job.

  • specific technological skills not available locally
  • organisational skills (pioneering a new office, conquering a market)
  • communication (people are sent to keep the contact to headquarter and/or mediate between different business cultures and mentalities)
  • regional roles (e.g. Asia-wide responsibilities need not be filled locally)
  • temporary assignments on projects (flexibility to send the guy elsewhere afterwards)
  • political reasons (some higher positions will always be filled from headquarter)
  • connections (can always get you what you want)
  • FILTH (“Failed In London - Try Hong Kong” - although this is fortunately getting increasingly rare with tightening budgets)