It is not unusual for expat partners to abandon a career path that they followed before moving abroad. As a result, some may even enter a completely different field upon repatriation. Our research shows adequate personal support can assist partners looking to change direction successfully

Try something new
“Time spent abroad is the time for a career change. You have got the time to try something new, and use that experience when applying for a job again in your home country.” This remark was made by one of the expat partners who took part in our recent survey of repatriated expat partners.

Good reasons
The expat partner certainly has a point. From our contacts with partners we know that quite a few of them have made or are considering a career change. For good reasons. Sometimes the partner was, before he or she moved abroad, not very happy in her/his line of work anyway. Some partners realise it will for various reasons be nearly impossible to pick up their previous career again after repatriation.

Changed outlook
We have also heard that partners followed a particular study “because everyone in my family did”, and discovered abroad, out of the usual context, that it’s not what they really want. And, of course, living abroad and the experience gained tends to change people anyway, and so also their outlook on the kind of job they would actually enjoy doing changes, too.

Sheep farmer
Over the years, we have come across a lot of interesting career changes: We have talked to a teacher who became a sheep farmer after her return to work; someone who studied notarial law and is now in the fashion business; a financial planner who now works as a photographer; and a recruitment consultant who found her calling as a personal fitness trainer.

Way forward
We firmly believe adequate personal support can help expat partners execute a career change, if they are considering doing so when abroad. For them a professional exploration of (sometimes hidden) preferences and drivers is the best way forward to experience a more rewarding return to work.

Henk Dam
Research & Consultancy Expat Partner Support
Global Connection