Repatriated – and renewed

Expat partners who quit their jobs to go on assignment will often worry about returning to the workforce when repatriating. But this ‘career break’ can prove to be a transformative period in life.

An air of uncertainty

You have decided with your partner to move overseas. It’s an exciting time and an unbelievable career opportunity. For your partner anyway. Your own career? Well, you’re not so sure. It’s basically being derailed and there are no guarantees you’ll be able to find the tracks again. What about that dreaded ‘gap on the CV’?!

Discover your passions

For starters, don’t fixate on the ‘gap on the CV’. It’s one of the biggest myths in recruitment today. It’s highly unlikely, in this day and age, that someone would have to justify ‘a gap’ in a job interview. In this fluid, fast-moving modern world, HR teams don’t expect to see straightforward career timelines. Expat partners also shouldn’t look too far into the future anyway. First you need to settle in!

Expanding horizons

Let’s take an example. When repat partner Regine Tarmann-Strumpf moved to the US she had concerns about reentering the workforce after what would only be an 18-month assignment. However, she didn’t let that get in the way of relishing her expat life. She travelled around North America with her family frequently, literally expanding her horizons, while also taking the time to reflect on what she wished to do on her return.

Seeking inspiration

“Regine used her time well,” says Ines Ahrens, a consultant with Global Connection, who communicated with Regine when she was an expat. “She saw this time in the US as a chance to explore another culture but she did keep one eye on her return. Six months before she returned to Austria, she began to structure a plan for her repatriation. She’d had an idea for a ‘virtual assistant’ business that she finally had a chance to develop while in the US, where she was inspired when seeing similar businesses operating successfully.”

Refreshed and re-energised

In Regine’s case, rather than spend time searching for a part-time job in the US, she gave herself the time and space to identify her passions and explore her options. Now she’s back in Vienna and her business is up and running. But one suspects that even if she’d chosen to reenter the workforce, she would be doing so refreshed and re-energised. There’s also a lot to be said for that, too.

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