Better career decisions with a long term plan

For expat partners, knowing what you want to achieve in the long term, will bring focus to your overseas job search and set you up for success, according to Toronto-based career coach Wendy Woods.

Understand your goal

She says: “I think it’s important for everyone to have a long term vision. Without knowing your ultimate goal, it’s easy to get either distracted or veer off path. Especially for expat partners, who face different challenges and opportunities in each country. I’ve worked with quite a few of them, and often they’re eager to get a job and start working as soon as they land, without necessarily understanding what their long term goals are and how a short term role abroad can fit into that.

Step back

Formulating a long term vision is about taking that step back and asking yourself: What would I like to be doing in a few years from now? Where am I heading? What kind of role would stretch me, and what would I enjoy? Sometimes we only think of our career direction in terms of the talent and skills we possess or the career path we’ve chosen, but it’s also important to keep thinking about what excites us.

Move forward

Once you know where you want to be heading, speak to people who are in those roles now. Find out: how did they get there? Look at what you currently have and what you would need, so you understand the gaps. Then, as you’re searching for work or a volunteer job in your host country, you’re ideally looking to fill these gaps, and can evaluate each opportunity with those criteria in mind. If your new job isn’t a perfect fit, you’ll know what other experience and expertise you need and either ask for projects or get on committees where you will be exposed to that.

A coach can help

Knowing what you would like to walk away with at the end of your stay in a country will set you up for success. A career coach can help you identify your long term goal, if you don’t have one yet, and break it down into concrete steps: What needs to happen in the next two years? What does that mean in terms of networking? What needs to go on your resume? They can also help navigate the local market and understand local opportunities.”

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