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US vs UK (career progression)

 
#1 US vs UK (career progression)
17/05/2008 12:30

Seb

I'm a dual citizen of the UK & US and have lived in London for the past 10 years. I'm quite happy here but have always considered the option of going back to the US. My impression is that the UK seems to win in terms of salary, but what I want to know is which country has a stronger culture of encouraging career progression, i.e. in which country does meritocracy truly rule?

My other impression is that I'd never have a chance getting onto the ladder in America with a non-American degree (that isn't Oxbridge). Is that true? If so, would it just be a waste of time to consider applying for jobs in the US? Should I concentrate on getting my CV built up in the UK and then try moving, if it's worth moving at all?

Any ideas?

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#2 RE: US vs UK (career progression)
18/05/2008 19:23

anon to Seb (#1)

I work in the London office of a predominantly US firm. My impression is that in the UK consulting culture is slightly less formal and hierarchical. Therefore the difference in career development is that you are likely to get more rounded experience (e.g. in project and client relationship management) earlier on in the UK whilst you'd be more likely to spend that time honing your analytical and research skills in an equivalent US firm.

However, I don't think the difference is that clear-cut. The culture of the individual firm, office, practice and managers (as well as the state of the economy) all play a far bigger part in career progression.

As far as meritocracy goes, my experience is that the US offices of my firm adhere to the career management framework more stringently than they do in the UK office. Therefore, career paths are more regular and predictable. In the UK, the career framework is only one element that goes into recognition and promotion decisions - you are more likely to be recognised for developing ahead of schedule, but you can sometimes be denied promotion because (for example) even though you technically hit x number of competencies on the head it was by fluke.

For the large firms, especially those with international offices, non-American degrees are not a problem. It is usually only the smaller firms that will only recruit from a limited range of schools (Bay Area, Midwest, etc.)

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