A lot of big multi-national companies have offices in developing nations. If you're offered a job in one such company, would you take it over a similar job in a smaller company in the US? As an example, would you work for Google in India or some mid-sized IT company in the US? (your only motive is to improve future job prospects, location/salary doesn't matter to you)

Is it true that these companies don't do a lot of 'real' work in developing nations? Even if they don't, wouldn't just a big name like Google impress future employers straight away?

Is first world experience more valuable than third world experience?

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    Where do you want to live, both currently and in the future?
    – enderland
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 17:07
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    You do realize that there are non-Americans on this site, don't you? (Here we go again with my pet peeve.) Anyway, in this mediocre "third world" country, having a big name like Google does help your resume attract attention, but that's about all. If you don't know s**t about Algorithms, the big name won't really help you much. Also, it is true that US MNCs tend to control most of the "important" work, but we do get to do "real" work most of the time. The importance of a module is orthogonal to the technical challenge involved in developing it.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 17:48
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    @MaskedMan ...just at the airport huh? :P
    – Myles
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 18:26
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    @Myles That's not really relevant here since multi-nationals do maintain (or at least claim to maintain) the same quality and safety standards all across the world. Especially for technical jobs it's pretty safe to assume employers wouldn't really worry about all that. They'd be more concerned about the work you did and I'm interested in knowing if they'll just assume that if it's work in a developing country, it wouldn't be of the same standards as in the US
    – user48917
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 12:58
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    @uncertainty_principle As someone who works for a multinational manufacturer with first and third world offices I can confidently say that quality and safety standards are largely influenced by local culture. Our monthly company wide injury report often includes some sort of insanity from one of our third world locations.
    – Myles
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 14:03

3 Answers 3


I'm going to attempt to give some insights which might help, this is a very hard question, and some employers just read the paperwork and don't think past that, in which case my answer wouldn't apply to them.

perceived value of experience from working in a third world country over a first world country by an employer.

Obviously this is highly variable due to individuals experience, so my answer is coming from personal observations and experience as an employer in both the Third World and First, and as a worker in both. It actually makes a HUGE difference if the employer has previously spent time in the third World, because it changes their whole outlook on expat workers. So I'll start with examining this difference.

When you work in third World you quickly notice that the majority (not all) of the expats are dysfunctional, both in their personal lives and in their working lives, many if not most of them could not hold a comparable position in their home countries (it's very common for them to hold much higher positions than their qualifications and expertise would give them back home), and some of them would be outright unemployable. A few are excellent workers with a strong work ethic, but an employer has no way of knowing which. Any references from the third World, and any qualifications are suspect.

In general dependent on the industry Third World experience has less value from a First World viewpoint for several reasons.

Work ethic


Validity of experience

Framework in which the experience was earned

Would be the most glaring

The advantages of employing someone with expat experience are mostly if you need someone to deal with that locality, or if you need a 'jack of all trades' type. Third World experience does often produce people who can improvise and are multiskilled, because with a small pool of skilled experts, they have to do all sorts of things that would normally be done by a specialist. For a specialist position this isn't a big asset, so a lot depends on the position.

All in all, generally third World experience would be of lesser value due to the factors outlined above and many others I won't bore you with. The most general one would be that their experience was gained in a different environment, the employer has no way of knowing exactly how close that is to their one. In terms of adherence to regulations and protocols if nothing else.

That's the guff, now here is the actual answer:-

It really comes down to a choice between known, quantifiable and relevant experience, and the unknown. Not a risk most employers would take if all else were equal.


In the US, regardless of where you previously worked (though it does make a difference to a point), a hiring company will probably look for 3 basic things: Authorization to work in the U.S., relevant/desirable/demonstrable experience commensurate with what the job requires, and the interview process.

Number one goes without saying but some people do mess up here, and it affects your job prospects so you got to make sure work authorization is taken care of. Coming out of that, you need to know what you're doing. If the resume doesn't add up, you're out. If you get into a technical interview and fail there, you're out. And this isn't meant to be scary, but a big take-home point is that where you got the experience doesn't matter so much as being able to demonstrate your proficiency to: (1) do the job, and (2) function in the US work culture.

A degree, like a bachelor's can sometimes speak for itself, and problematically, for some countries all degrees aren't viewed to be created equally. This is why you must have your international degree reviewed and approved by an auditing agency for transfer into U.S. universities. I can't comment here, however, because I'm not too certain myself how each case will translate.

  • This is very helpful advice but doesn't really answer the question. The question is about the perceived value of experience from working in a third world country over a first world country by an employer.
    – user48917
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 13:00
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    "...perceived value of experience from working in a third world country over a first world country by an employer." I get the gist of OPs post completely, rest assured. I won't attempt to answer this, however, because I feel it's a red herring. Country of origin for work experience will be weighted differently across industries, companies and even individual positions in some cases. @uncertainty_principle
    – CKM
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 13:27

I would say it depends entirely on the role. Coming as a westerner to a third world country, you'd often be hired for a higher level position than you would at home since you can bring new and different experience to a country that might lack it, from a western-orientated perspective.

If you were doing a junior software engineering role either place? Not sure, it still counts, but what you can actually produce likely counts higher than the place you did it at.

If you were in a position of f.e. developing a new market, new product or such(moving from a first world to third world) with a lot of responsibility - this would be a big plus I'd guess.