An Economist Intelligence Unit report in 2010 found that organizations view talent management as a key factor in business success (41%, ranked third), but that many remain unconvinced they have strategies in place to achieve it. While the global war for talent is very real, conventional attempts to win it have failed. Companies may be winning small battles but are losing the war because they don't understand global careers, why expatriates pursue them, and how they can be leveraged to deliver the ROI they seek. Consider the following:

  • Gone is the notion of "organizational expatriates" directed by companies to work in emerging economies. In its place are global careerists and self-initiated expatriates who choose where to work as much as whom to work for.
  • Forget repatriation. The world is now a giant employment pool, where international experience acquired through continuous global mobility is not only a critical asset, but also part of an increasing and irreversible trend.
  • Talent shortages are the norm, and those with talent willing to move across geographical borders are in demand. Expatriate careers may not be new, but how they unfold, what they represent, and what individuals do with them is rapidly changing.
  • As more and more people seek "lifetime employability" through the development of global competencies, talent flows are the new normal, where the poaching ("buying") of high-potential staff from competitors is frequently balanced by the simultaneous loss of talent to them in a revolving door of entrances and departures. "Building talent" among existing employees may make sense too, but is also compromised by brain drain and brain gain.
  • There is no one type of global careerist, no single profile of a person pursuing an international career. Some global careerists are "born", whereas others are "made".
  • The future of global staffing will depend on global careerists as a valuable source of competitive advantage.