Managing great (career) expectations

Even expat partners who were highly employable in their home country must be patient when seeking jobs. More often than not, finding work will take time and they must also adjust to a new culture.

Eager for employment

When one member of our community relocated from Asia to Germany, she expected to find paid employment within two to three months. She felt confident as she’d had a successful decade-long career in her home country. She was also informed that there was strong demand for her skills in the host country. But after three months had passed, she had received no offers and anxieties began to creep in. It was the first time in her life, since graduating, she had no job and no income. Feeling preoccupied by her search for work, she found herself struggling with her day-to-day cultural adaptation.

Ready to work

The above is a textbook example of why expat partners often need to manage their career expectations when entering a new culture. To be clear, when we say ‘manage expectations’ nobody wants to slow the partner down! But the reality is that it usually takes time to find work even for highly employable workers in developed job markets. For example, a highly experienced software developer, who relocated to Frankfurt, expected to find work in a month but it took much longer. We have also featured a former CEO of an energy company, who spent one year searching for work in Singapore.

Delaying adaptation

It’s also not just about being mentally prepared for a long job-search. If finding work is an expat partner’s leading priority, there’s a risk they might be impeding their overall adaptation, believing when they get a job everything else will fall into place. That means they’ve ‘landed’ but have not found their feet. But it’s very important for jobseekers to set aside time to discover their new home, build social networks, practise self-care, not to mention figuring out a whole new ecosystem of services, and so forth.

Reach new heights

Indeed, we have shared a number of stories about expat partners who have benefitted from taking some time out before beginning a job search in earnest. We fully understand this is a challenging concept for career-driven people used to earning an income. But if they feel more sure-footed and energised in their new culture, they will have the potential to reach even greater heights than they previously imagined.