Expat mums relaunching their career
2019-03-05 | By Angela Fusaro
Raising a family and pursuing a career can be a real challenge for expat mums. Relocation with children to a new country needs time and energy, while often your career aspirations pause during the transition. Yet once everyone in the family is happy and settled you may feel like returning to work and investing in your professional life.
Then, plenty of questions start popping up in your head, What opportunities are there in the local market? How does my profile fit with the job vacancies? How do I motivate the gaps in my CV, explaining the relocation and maternity breaks? How will I maintain a work/life balance as an expat mum?
Finding a job after a career break in a country where you don’t have a strong professional network can be daunting. Along with this you need to sort out childcare and find a completely new balance as a whole family.
Here are some steps to get started.
Align your vision
- Why do you want to restart your career? Motherhood and relocation are life-changing, but they provide an opportunity to determine what is really important for you.
- What are your career goals and priorities?
- Maybe you want to be financially independent and contribute to the household?
- Remember a small, yet important note; stay-at-home mums do contribute to the household–more than people think.
- Maybe you miss the intellectual challenge of a professional environment and the chance to learn and develop yourself outside the home. Or you want to be a role model for your children.
- Or perhaps you have an idea for an innovative service or product, that keeps you awake at night because want you to take action.
Focus on your vision. This will help you on the journey you’re about to start.
Find your strengths
Psychologists say that relocation, motherhood and a career break can have a negative impact on our confidence. Women begin to doubt their skills and abilities, and sometimes forget or underestimate their past accomplishments. Many mums struggle to recall their career highlights before the break, and the key achievements and projects they enjoyed working on. If this sounds familiar, retrace your career journey, and for each year or relevant period, write down the things you accomplished and the skills you developed. Are those skills and achievements something you can use when relaunching your career in the new country?
Furthermore, what are the new skills and competencies you developed during motherhood and your expat life? Most of these are transferable to other areas, and are handy when preparing for a career move.
Working with a career coach can help map your skills and connect them to your target jobs.
Remember – motherhood and an international relocation make us stronger than before, teach us great lessons and endow us with skills that we’ll likely re-use.
In today’s world, work is often incredibly busy, but that is nothing new for mothers. They know how to function effectively at a rapid pace. As a mother, you have the ability to prioritise on the fly and accomplish tasks that deliver the greatest impact, every day.
Motherhood teaches you that, when you want something done, control simply doesn’t work. As a mum, you get what you want in subtler ways, by weaving a solution out of everyone’s different needs. Control never works in business, and it is mothers who best know how to manipulate and negotiate in a multifaceted, multi-directional environment. In the world of work, mothers know how to invite others to their point of view–patients, clients, investors or staff– without stirring up resistance or resentment.
Motherhood teaches you how to play with power. You earn how to assert your needs, desires and the edges of your personal domain. It goes without saying that these qualities are imperative at work. Mothers are well equipped to manage staff, customers, clients and conflicts, because they have learned that you can’t make everyone happy. There are times when you have to say “no”.
Whether it’s our relationship with our kid’s teachers, helping your child with a school project or teaching how to bake, mums are good collaborators, almost without realising it. Our ability to work with others is key. The workplace requires this close cooperation, without ego.
If, after reading this, you still do not feel ready, don’t worry, there’s more you can do to become the change you want. Get your LinkedIn profile in order and tailor your CV. Explain the gaps in your career history with your own journey, mention the things you’ve done, the countries you’ve visited, including your experiences as a volunteer, the courses you’ve followed and other contributions you’ve made while away from the workplace.
Make contact with recruiters, attend career fairs, seminars, and other events that will expand your network and knowledge. Start following the leading companies in your industry. Join communities for job seekers and professionals, both online and offline, or take a course if you want to brush up on some skills. Discuss childcare arrangements with your partner and plan how you both will manage the household when you start working again.
In the last decade, we have shifted from the concept of linear and defined careers. The world, the new economy, and new technology invite change and encourage us to embrace it. More and more companies hire employees, not for their skills but, because they are a good fit. As an expat mum, transformation and change have been central in your journey. The way you dealt with it shows the value you can bring to work. Blend those life experiences together with your skills and expertise, and craft a message that shows the world who you are and the value you have to offer. This will help you land your next role with confidence and ease.
About the Author
Angela Fusaro is the mother of two boys and the founder of Every Mother Knows, a career coaching initiative that supports mums returning to work and/or making their next career move. Learn more at everymotherknows.org or facebook.com/everymotherknowsorg