The Value of Global Experience

October 7th, 2019

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“Success is when I add value to myself. Significance is when I add value to others” – John Maxwell

A new report was recently released in Australia about the struggle that expats have in both navigating the employment market and in leveraging their knowledge and skill set upon their return.

Through my work in career management, and in particular global careers, there have many been calls, coffees and emails – which are growing in number since the release of this report – where people have shared their experiences of frustration, pain and exhaustion in navigating their re-entry into the local job market. Australian expats are struggling to understand how to cut through the dire statistics, that clearly shows international experience is undervalued by recruiters in Australia.

The report found that 85% of returning Australians struggle to find work and 83% of recruiters are cautious about hiring returned expats. Additionally, “A third (34%) of returned expats aren’t even landing an interview for a potential role where their skills precisely match the job requirements. A quarter of returned expats (24%) are landing multiple interviews for various roles, and yet miss out on being offered the job,” the report adds.

There is no doubt that the Australian market is tough to navigate – and in particular for those who have been out of it for some time.

It’s comparatively small, is often regarded as lagging in up to date innovative thinking and diversity and can feel very narrow and at times apathetic in it’s operating practice. Recruiters and corporate Australia appear more often that not, closed to anything that looks or sounds different to the ‘average Joe’.

Overlay the fact that the market is highly networked and our culture is underpinned by the good old tall poppy syndrome, it comes as no surprise that many people are simply overwhelmed and highly frustrated by the challenges faced.

Given that we are all essentially hardwired to want to show up and make a valued contribution, not being able to see how or where to do this – or worse still feeling rejected or undervalued – is both infuriating and demoralizing.

However, global experience is a highly valuable commodity in the Australian market, even though it is difficult for recruiters to understand, and for repatriates to articulate.

The report revealed a positive sentiment among recruiters, where more than half (57%) agree that recruiting returned Australians has a longer-term strategic benefit. The report also went further to suggest that “expats returning home are key to unlocking corporate Australia’s competitive edge.” A recent story that appeared in the Australian Financial Review also highlighted that 80% of CEOs in the country have worked overseas at some stage during their career.

Creating value – and demand for that value – in what we do is challenging when we have been living and working outside of that market for an extended period of time. Just like a financial plan our career plan requires an investment strategy – and ideally one with compounding interest. Additionally,  it also requires a marketing plan if we are to overcome or mitigate the risk of feeling ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

The need for strategic career planning has never been more essential in the returning expat’s toolkit. However, many will only address this in a reactionary manner, starting the planning process only when the need arises.

Three widely known key attributes of wealth are utility, scarcity and marketability. In thinking about our careers, these attributes are similar. Clarity, demand and transferability are three career attributes that will build value and drive your career forward.

How can we use these three attributes to demonstrate genuine career value?

  1. Build Clarity: In what you can do – your core skills, knowledge and experience; what you want to do (motivations and values) and where you think you best fit (culture and environment). Remember, if you can’t clearly articulate it, others can’t see it or refer to it with any real confidence.
  2. Build Demand: If you can’t demonstrate relevance to the current market others won’t buy it – regardless of how much you think your expertise sets you apart from others. Creating demand for what you do and how you do it requires you to nail your value proposition in a manner that engenders confidence and makes you relevant for both today and tomorrow’s market in a cost effective and competitive manner. Engaging others to help you research, understand and link your expertise to current challenges and/or opportunities will help you build your positioning with influence and give people a reason to want to engage with you.
  3. Build Transferability: Re-entering a market where you have little to no local validation can be difficult. People often like to play it safe and make decisions or appoint through trusted advisors and/or when they can see that you have a support system that will support your transition. To demonstrate your nimbleness and resilience invest in your network, your learning and the industry you are a part of or are seeking to be a part of.

Navigating international transitions are difficult, but with the right road map, support and networks around you, the path can be made easier.

Whether you’re looking for counsel on your career plan and how to translate your international skills into the local market, or connect with other globally minded individuals, I offer programs and connections designed to make your return journey an enjoyable and successful one. I also offer this as a service for organisations designed to enhance the retention, engagement and productivity of international workforces.

As always, I would love to hear from you.

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