2024 is 6 months away and therefore there is plenty of time to plan a move back home… right?
For those with a role to come back to, yes 6 months will probably be enough.
(Beware though this could be a stretch if your plans include bringing home your dog!).
But for those Australian expats coming home next year without a role and planning their next career move, your planning should have already started.
Moving back to Australia for many long-term expats, can often mean coming back to a market a lot smaller to what they have been used to and there can be challenges if the job or company the expat was working for overseas, doesn’t ‘exist’ in Australia.
More than 50% of Australian expats we surveyed last year as part of our Australian expat career survey said they were planning to spend one to over two years planning their return to Australia.
And while there can be a few reasons for this long runway, like coordinating with school years or accommodating a partner’s career, it is never too early to start your career planning.
Here is my checklist for 2024 returnees:
For those coming home to find a new role and have started by updating your CV, put down the red pen.
Before you plan your move, you need to start with a clear idea of what you want. Is it a like-for-like role, a side-ways move to consulting or contracting or a career change altogether?
Get this clear before you try and reach out to recruiters and hirers in Australia.
They are not career coaches. While they can give good advice on roles they may have, don’t assume they can help you with your career choices.
Hirers will respond better if you have a clear idea of what you are looking for including the sectors and organisations that interest you, preferred working style (hybrid, remote, full or part-time etc) and location.
If you have a job or work in an industry that isn’t dominant in Australia, you will need to be clear on what pivots you are prepared to make and what your deal breakers are.
If you are currently saying to yourself, ‘but I don’t know what I want’, focus on research and conversations in your personal circles about areas of interest but refrain from targeting specific recruiters or job opportunities until you are ready.
By now, you should have started to think and prioritise your lifestyle factors including where you live, potential school transitions for kids and pet relocation.
Lifestyle factors will impact your location, which could mean some career considerations as some sectors and roles have more opportunities in some locations than others.
Lifestyle factors will also impact your timings. You may need to come home to meet the start of a school term, which differs in many states and territories.
Or you might need to relocate your dog. According to expat logistics expert LJ Ferrara from Aussie Expats Coming Home bringing home a pet will take at least six months so you will need to have your dog sorted by June if you want to come home in January next year.
Once you have clarity on what you are looking for and when and where you are looking, you can start on working on your ‘positioning’ which is how you tell your story and how you position your offer to the Australian market.
Your career story might be very obvious in the country you have been working in, but if the organisation or role doesn’t exist in Australia, you will need a way to translate your global story into a local one.
Reaching out to existing Australian networks or people in your industry can help you shape your positioning and potentially identify any challenges you may need to overcome.
Market trends and mapping
The process of understanding local market trends and mapping your market can be started any time in your preparation runway but the earlier the better.
Any local Australian networks are an obvious starting position but if you don’t have current networks, look for relevant industry groups and associations.
You can also look to resources like the InSync monthly newsletter which will have a monthly ‘jobs in the news’ summary, the AFR’s work and careers newsletter or follow the career’s section in The Australian.
Reconnecting with your network
For those with existing Australian networks, now is the time to start reaching out to them to help you with your planning and your market intelligence.
Target other Australian repats who have navigated back in your field before you – expats and repats are notoriously generous with their time and can be a great source of advice.
An interesting approach taken by one of my podcast guests Shane Masters, is to consider how to contribute to your network while you are still overseas. Shane tried a number of times to find a job back in Australia while still living overseas. He ultimately found success by using holiday trips back to reconnect with his network and by contributing to his network by offering US based insights while he was still living overseas. He attributes this approach to his eventual success securing a new role back home.
Coming back with an organisation
With growing trend of localised contract agreements, you may find yourself needing to resign from your employer in your location and re-sign with the Australian based employer.
Reach out early to your global relocation contact so you understand what relocation entitlements you are eligible for and how this may impact your planning.
Getting clarity, sorting your positioning and market mapping are also just as relevant for those coming back with the same organisation. The local or Australian office will invariably be a smaller market and the local team may or may not fully understand your international experience and how it can be utilised. Understanding, mapping and reaching out to your new internal stakeholders in advance can be useful. Potentially ask for a mentor or a sponsor with the local team who can help you grow your local intel and connections and make sure you have meetings with the HR business partner to ensure you are clear on what career opportunities are available over the medium to longer term once you return home.
Regardless of whether you are returning as part of an organisation or to find a new job, you need to manage own mindset and expectations for this type of transition. Our Boomeranging podcast has more than 30 personal stories of people who have made the transition, sharing and listening to stories is a great way to get your head in the game over the next 9 months.