6 pillars of creating a career abroad
Moving abroad with the aim of continuing one’s profession in a foreign country is not always easy. Often there is a certain idea of how this can be implemented and the project is approached with confidence and euphoria, but abroad there are often unforeseen developments. I focus my work on women who want to continue their career abroad or want to live out their career in another way – not without reason. About 80% of the partners who accompany their partner abroad are not employed. For some, focusing on family or their own projects was a conscious choice. For others, it was not a voluntary decision. There are unavoidable reasons such as a lack of work permit (although there are options here as well) but also unexpected reasons such as a very competitive market, language, and cultural barriers or also (one of the most common reasons) lack of self-confidence in an unfamiliar environment and dealing with setbacks.
In this blog post, I would like to go into the 6 pillars I recommend every expat partner to build. I address each of these pillars in my 1:1 coaching sessions and in the regular Mastermind groups. Also in my ebooks, I address these pillars again and again as they are so fundamental for career planning but also for re-entering the job market after a return.
This blog post is intended as an introduction to the topic. If you want to know more or are ready for a partner to accompany and support you on this journey, feel free to send me a message (firstname.lastname@example.org) or discovery conversation to learn more about me and my coaching approach.
Certified coach with focus on empowering the expat partner and female expat planning their professional future abroad or after returning back home.
Pillar #1: Gain clarity about the WHAT
Having clarity about what you even want to implement professionally abroad (or after returning) sounds like an empty phrase. Many expat partners have great clarity about what they want to do as they usually want to continue or resume what they are used to. But unfortunately, it is usually not that simple, otherwise, my work in this field would not be needed. Getting clarity about possible alternatives has great value in this adventure! Rarely do we have the opportunity to set a new course in this time of our lives and it is very valuable to think about your own motivation, skills, and interests. That’s why I always use many reflection exercises in my coaching sessions and it’s always great to see how the insights gained from them shape the way ahead. So take the time to explore the WHAT before you write your resume and try to take the blinders off left and right to be able to consider all possibilities. Often it requires an independent person who does not come from your personal environment because our environment tends to mirror what we have always communicated. It can be an exciting journey!
Pillar #2: Search for your tribe
Before you send out your first application or update your resume, I recommend investing your energy in building a support network. Look for people with whom you can exchange ideas, who understand you and can understand your special situation. The exchange will help you later to cope with setbacks and to motivate you to go new ways. The expat journey is wonderfully exciting and enriching, but unfortunately also sometimes lonely. Your best friend at home often can’t quite understand what’s bothering you. Finding your identity abroad has to be experienced to be understood. There is immense power in the exchange with others. It is not for nothing that the Mastermind group is always in demand by other expats, as it not only provides space for coaching and career advice but also builds a wonderful support network that the women maintain long after the last Mastermind session.
Pillar #3: Do your research
Cultural training is often provided by posting companies. However, it is often overlooked that the expatriate partners are in fact inquisitive, curious, and intrinsically motivated women who are very quick to acquire information on their own. The Internet allows much easier access to the outside world these days, and so many take research into cultural differences and the job market into their own hands. I recommend that you don’t just rely on reading information but find direct contact with people on the ground. What is the job market like? What does a typical application process look like? What soft skills are more important than in your home country? Gather information that will help you to assess the application process correctly.
Pillar #4: Prepare your elevator pitch
Do you have an appropriate phrase ready to introduce yourself to a new group? Do you know how to introduce yourself at networking events right away? Are you clear about what makes you unique, what your strengths are, and what you want to communicate? If you are not yet ready or feel uncomfortable, today is a good day to start. If we can’t be associated with a specific profession, it is often difficult for others to grasp us and understand what we do and where we want to go. In addition, you may not know this yourself because you are in transition. Being in tune with your own vision is extremely important in order to see and tackle opportunities abroad. In my ebooks and coachings, I therefore also deal with the topic of introducing yourself very intensively.
Pillar #5: Get your papers ready
After you’ve put time and energy into reflection and mental preparation, it’s now time to prepare for the application process and get your paperwork up to date. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? Is your CV updated (including your elevator pitch)? Do you have certificates and references ready to hand? Organize yourself so that you can send out many applications without too much effort. Design different CVs and cover letters depending on the industry and position and use your social channels to position yourself. This is a bigger effort but it sets the base for your application phase which is often longer than expected. The more time and energy you invest in the beginning, the more you will be able to benefit from it, although inevitably you will receive many rejections and your motivation and mood may suffer. If you are applying after a long career break you might find this post here helpful.
Pillar #5: Proactive networking
Today, most jobs are placed through the network. Classic job advertisements are often only published pro forma although the position has already been filled internally. Networking is more important than ever – especially if you are not in your home country and do not yet have an existing network to fall back on. So a lot of initiative is needed here and it’s up to you to take the first step. Networking can take a lot of energy – especially if you are not a person who is comfortable in social moments. For many, it means stepping out of your comfort zone. It becomes easier when you set a set routine and clearly envision the message you want to communicate to the outside world. Networking doesn’t just happen in person in public spaces, either. Networking on LinkedIn from your home laptop is also real networking. Provided you use it properly and work on an active exchange instead of just increasing the number of your contacts. Networking only has value if you get involved and take an active part. But then, from my experience, it has the greatest leverage for success!
Here they are – the 6 pillars for professional success abroad for expat partners. The most important thing is that you don’t have to go this way alone! There are many who can accompany you on this path! Be it in the form of a community or a coach! I have put together a few resources that can help you. This website is full of tips and tricks for this phase in your life. If you don’t want to miss a new post, feel free to sign up for my newsletter. I send out info on new blog posts and events once a week. Want to learn more about the Mastermind groups or my coaching offers and ebooks? Just send me a short message! I look forward to hearing from you!