Career Prospects for Former ExpatsFotolia
International work experience can significantly improve your career prospects.
Aadita (36) experienced the confusion of the typical “repatriate” when she left Frankfurt after working as a financial consultant for a big bank for a few years. “I had to return to Pune for family-related reasons. All of a sudden, I had to face India’s business world on my own, which was rather intimidating. But I rolled up my sleeves and looked for a job where I could make good use of my experience.”
Finding the right sort of work took Aadita a while. “Careers are not linear, but consist of many different experiences and projects,” she says. “It took me a few tries to find a job I liked and an employer who respected me for my skills.”
Use International Experience as a “Selling Point”
People who have many international jobs listed on their resume may seem like a flight risk to employers, who usually look for someone to stay put. It is therefore important for repatriates to “sell” their abilities properly and to actively look for employers who value their international experience.
With patience and motivation, repatriates like Aadita can manage to find their own niche that allows them to use their unique knowledge. “Thanks to my former colleagues in Frankfurt, I found out that the bank I had worked for was opening an office in Pune,” she recalls. “It was perfect.” With the right network, the right focus and lots of dedication, even repatriates like Aadita who do not have a company to back them up will find the job that suits them.
Prepare for Repatriation Before You Even Leave
Nowadays, it is a great risk to move abroad on an expat assignment. Many companies do not support their employees well upon return or struggle to create a suitable job opening for them. Therefore, expats should find out how supportive their company is before they actually go abroad.
Pascal (55) works as an HR specialist in Paris. He spent quite a few years abroad himself, many of them in the United States. He knows what expats need to watch out for.
“In addition to preparing themselves, expats-to-be should find out if their company is well prepared to send them abroad. Colleagues who have already gone through the process should be the first ones to talk to. They can offer inside information on how well the company supports their expats,” he advises.
“It is important that repatriation agreements are laid down in the contract before the assignment begins. This should include open questions and information concerning taxes and social insurance.”
Keep in Touch with the “Home Office”
According to Pascal, expats also need to make sure to keep in touch with their company and colleagues to avoid losing their network back home. “Once their employees were sent abroad, employers easily forget about them,” he explains. “However, if the employee manages to contact the company regularly and ask for a mentor back home to keep them updated, this should not happen.”
Expat contracts should also contain an agreement on the expat’s position after repatriation. In his job, Pascal has met many expats who ended up in unsuitable or unwanted positions and left their company within one year after their return.
“Often expats need to remind their employers that a suitable position upon return will benefit everybody” Pascal explains. “Not only can companies make their expat happy, they can also make sure to keep a valuable employee in whom they have invested a lot of money and HR resources.”