Single women with good networking skills and foreign languages are the most sought after expat executive workers, a survey has found.

More than half of business owners surveyed, some 53%, said that the ideal candidate would be in their late twenties to early thirties and 26.5% think women are more suitable for international work.

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The survey by international insurance company Expacare, also found that 60% want someone with excellent networking skills, 55% want candidates with a foreign language and 41% want people with the ability to sell.

The Anatomy of an International Business 2013/2014 report, which questioned 1,000 international business leaders, also found that the process of relocating staff can be difficult for employers.

Almost half, 47% reported finding the process challenging, though 42% said it was not as hard as they thought it would be. Only 9% of employers reported finding the process confusing.

The majority of employees, 52%, will consult with their partner first when making a decision to move abroad. A third value the opinion of their parents above all others, but 39% of employees make a decision without consulting any friends of family.

According to 39% of business leaders, the decision to embrace expat life was the employee's decision alone, perhaps illustrating how working overseas tends to attract independent types.

Once employees are relocated and working overseas some 32% of employers said their staffs’ main financial concern would be banking and pensions. Given the different tax rules operating in countries throughout the world, a quarter were most concerned about taxation and 21% about currency risk.

Despite the financial concerns of employees well over a third, 37%, believe that staff rarely come home earlier than planned and 13% of employers said they have not experienced an employee return early when posted overseas. This may be because many employers are clued up when it come to the most desired elements of a package staff want when overseas with 47% stating that health cover was important.

Beverly Cook, managing director of Expacare, said it is important that employees make sure staff feel looked after during what can be a stressful time. She added that the results showed the importance of traditional skills in the international workplace.

‘Language and networking skills continue to come out on top despite the world increasingly becoming a highly globalised and linked up place,’ she explained.

‘It is interesting to see who living overseas suits most in terms of age and gender, but it is equally fascinating to see the most desired skill set for these employees. Language and networking skills continue to come out on top despite the world increasingly becoming a highly globalised and linked up place,’ Cook added.

Women are well suited for international assignments according to Ines Wichert, co-president of the Professional Women's Network's London branch. ‘They have strong interpersonal skills which can make an important difference when a person has to show cultural sensitivity and build relationships with new colleagues and customers once abroad,’ she said.

‘Nevertheless, women still find it much harder to get international assignments, a phenomenon called the glass border, due to organisations’ concerns about how women will fare in patriarchal countries or the additional strain that a woman may experience when she moves abroad with her spouse and children,’ explained Wichert who has written a book about job assignments for women leaders.