I am often asked how I got my expatriation opportunities. If you have been following me for a while you will know that I have moved around a little, although not as much as I could have done. That’s because once you get started, it becomes very easy to move abroad with work. But they are a few things to know.
How I got my expatriation opportunities
The first one came a little earlier than I had anticipated. When I was in my last year of university in France, I wanted to get a job abroad. I was thinking Silicon Valley or Sydney, Australia. I wanted to be somewhere vibrant and sunny. So naturally, I ended up in the south of England…
From Bordeaux, France to Crawley, UK
I had got a work placement in Bordeaux during the summer with a large French company with offices abroad. At the end of my work placement, I interviewed for a role with them in Nice and another in Paris. Both roles were scraped due to the French economical climate not being great. As a last resort the company offered me another 3 months work placement in Crawley, UK, “while we waited for times to improve”. Plus, I didn’t speak English which was needed for the job so they thought it would be good for me.
And this is the story of how I ended up in England; 3 months became 6 and 12.
From Guildford, UK to Aalborg, Denmark
The second international assignment opportunity also landing on my desk. I was only 9 months into a position based in Guildford that my Danish colleague resigned, and the Chief Counsel walked into the team office and asked me in front of the entire team how I felt about spending a couple of years in Denmark. I was the obvious choice; I was single and childless, had just about enough experience and I had already moved country twice.
This had not been on my radar at all, but sounded great and so 2 months later I had moved to Denmark.
A short assignment in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A year after my return from Denmark, I felt like traveling again and applied for our internal international assignment programme. This time there was a fair amount of competition, but I got it and got to spend a month in KL, getting a very different perspective of our business. I loved it.
Where did I go right
It all looks a bit like luck, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t. What happened all 3 times is that:
- I didn’t choose the destination
- I was ready to go whenever it worked for them
- I put my hand up
- I made it easy
Moving abroad with very little notice is not easy. In fact it is disruptive and stressful. The second time around, it even affected my mental health. I recently wrote a guest article on the blog expat-in-france.com on How To Prevent Expat Depression: 5 Crucial Hacks You Need To Know which will come out soon, where I tell you know to prevent this from happening.
So the reality is that not many people will not be ready to move at the drop of a hat. And this is why I was offered these opportunities. I was truly mobile, happy to go wherever whenever. But this was the easiest way to get these opportunities as they were internal.
The other benefit is that assignment 2 and 3 guaranteed me my job in the UK back at the end of the assignment.
The other way to do it
If you have your heart set on a specific country, then you just have to do it the old fashion way: apply for roles in the location that you want. It will take longer, you will have to sort out your own visa and possibly to cover the relocation costs. But you will be where you want to be.
This is what I did when I came back to France after my first year in the UK, and when I decided to move back to the UK 18 months later.
How to get the expatriation opportunities – key take aways
- Be flexible on location
- Be flexible on timing
- Put yourself forward
- Make it easy for your employer
Most of the time opportunities are right there, in front of you. The only things that hold you back are yourself and your confidence.
Expatriation is far from easy, but it is a unique and enriching experience. So if you are up for it, I would strongly encourage you to do it.
Try these simple hacks and let me know how you get on
How did you get your expatriation opportunities? What has worked well for you? I’d love to hear your stories. Let me know in the comments.
And remember, happiness is a choice, and you are in charge!