Every partner needs a safety net

As focus on the impact of dual careers on global mobility sharpens, I’m hopeful that our work to help partners find fulfilment – no matter whether they receive a salary or not – can also gain more attention.

Career concerns

I state this wish after reading the International Dual Careers Survey Report 2022, recently published by Permits Foundation. One of the key findings from a survey of 128 global mobility professionals is that 59% of respondents’ organisations answered ‘yes’ when asked ‘if an employee had turned down an international assignment pre-pandemic because of concerns about the partner’s career or employment.’

Fear of the unknown

I don’t doubt there are partners who can’t imagine giving up their career – whether it’s because of the money they earn, which also provides them independence, their own ambition, and/ or sense of purpose – because once I had all those concerns. When my husband was offered a new role in Singapore, I was extremely reluctant to leave the security of my own full time job. When you work so hard to build a career, giving it all up to move overseas feels like a leap of faith.

CVs are about more than work

In the end I took the ‘plunge’ and my personal experiences as an expat partner proved formative, serving to inspire the creation of Global Connection. Through the years (29 and counting!) we have continually seen how partners can find other ways to enrich their CV in foreign countries. Volunteering, realising academic aspirations, setting up businesses, often unleashing competencies they didn’t know they possessed. Let’s not forget that a CV is about more than work, as the Germans understand – their word for a resume is ‘Lebenslauf’.

New opportunities

Even still, we understand that an ambitious partner – perhaps someone with a high-income, demanding job; a high-flyer as we like to say – might insist: ‘Nope. Not me. My career is too important.’  But relocating to live in another country and adapting to a new culture and a new way of life will always change an individual. It’s not that an ambitious person – having moved to another part of the world – would suddenly decide they would like to sit by the pool all day. Far from it! Their ambitions will simply shift with the new horizons, inspiring them to exploit new opportunities.

A safety net

We will always be pleased when seeing countries remove barriers to dual careers. But we also know that assignments can fail even where dual careers are possible. So whether they can or can’t work, or whether they do or don’t want to work, partners need more reassurances than a work permit. Even for those who aren’t giving up a career, relocating to another country feels like a leap of faith, and everyone needs a safety net.

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