Why do you want to work?

Even if you’re determined to land a job when moving to another country, don’t rush into setting up interviews on arrival. Give yourself space to adjust and build networks.

The meaning of our work

According to behavioural economist Dan Ariely’s TED Talk (What makes us feel good about our work?) most of us don’t work just  for the money. We are driven by the meaningfulness of our work, by others’ acknowledgement, and by the amount of effort we put in. Ariely argues that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose.

Fundamental motives

For expat partners determined to enter the local workforce, it’s worth considering the above. What are your core values and fundamental motives? For many it’s not the money, and it’s not really about keeping the CV ticking over either. As Ariely noted, it’s really all about progress and purpose.

What do I do?!

“What are you going to do there?” many people will innocently ask you before departing. “So what do you do here?” many more people will innocently ask after you arrive. Under pressure (from ourselves) to have an answer, we can rush into accepting a job that doesn’t ‘work out’ (perhaps due to contrasting ideologies, cultural misunderstandings, etc).

Taking your time

So on arrival, rather than working on your CV, and lining up interviews straightaway, build a network and explore your new home. That will not only start the key adjustment process (getting a job quickly doesn’t help you bypass this) but also lay some valuable groundwork for you. If you make getting to know people one of your first priorities, you will not only learn of opportunities, but deepen your understanding of the host country, its people (expats included) and culture, which in turn will help you immensely should you end up working alongside local staff.

Shifting priorities

And if you can’t find work? Well, fear not. Our recent survey on paid employment revealed that 65% of participating partners wanted to find paid employment when moving abroad but, for a variety of reasons, only 30% succeeded. That’s not to say all the others ‘failed’. Far from it. After taking time to adjust and reflect, they reassessed their priorities and found another fulfilling path, such as voluntary work, entrepreneurship, study, home-management, creative ventures, and many, many other pursuits.

This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.

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