You’ve lived and worked overseas for 10 years building an amazing career in a market much larger and complex than Australia, so surely headlining your CV with ‘worked in New York looking after the Americas’ says it all?
Well, this is awkward, because I often tell people this could say too much and not necessarily reflect the message that is going to get you in the door in Australia.
When trying to transition your career from overseas into the local market, this isn’t a case of ‘toning down’ your international experience for a tall poppy ridden Australian market, more a case of lead with your what, not with your where.
If you are coming home without a job, often your first port of call is often going to be recruiters, direct hirers, and your networks. You might be full throttle into the job search or testing the waters, either way you will be using feedback from these sources to determine your place in the market and what opportunities to go for.
Note that none of these sources are career coaches or people particularly interested in the nuances of your international experience.
You may stumble across the odd one who will be generous to give you broad advice, but the reality is, even your own network is looking for a ‘match’ or ‘a sale’. They want to help, but nobody wants to have to try too hard. The people with the jobs are looking to match your story with a job they see in front of them, and they are also looking for signs that might rule you out.
A 2019 Advance.org survey, found that while nine in 10 recruitment decision makers consider managing projects across multiple countries is a positive experience on a job application, a third said they are reluctant or cautious to hire a returned expat for an Australian-based role on the basis of perceived cultural difficulties. This same survey found that three in 10 recruiters prioritise a candidate with Australian-only work experience, favouring their current knowledge of Australian-history, politics, and culture.
So why would international experience rule you out? The international experience itself won’t necessarily rule you out but if your main selling point to a hirer is the fact that can work across particularly countries or markets that the hirer is not familiar with – you are not giving them a hook they can work with. You are also could scare them into thinking that given this is your main selling point, you are looking for like for like in a job that just couldn’t offer it. It’s not that you have too much experience for a job, or that you are ‘too big’ for a role – its more you just don’t fit. And regardless of whether your experience is more or less than the job requires, hirers just want someone who fits.
I often guide people to think about how to describe their recent international experience in terms of universal and translatable concepts – like what challenges have you been solving?
Size and scale may not be what the job market is after and if you have been working with a brand not available in Australia, your elevator pitch could fall on deaf ears.
Instead, lead with your what. Describe your skills and the challenges you have been solving in a way that could be applied to challenges happening in Australia right now.
For example, I was recently working with someone who was leading a supply chain operation across Europe for a consumer goods organisation. We worked to position his recent career as having a focus on supply chain network design and introducing automation and technologies to deliver increased efficiency and profitability.
Need some help?
In a few weeks, we are running a Tell your International Story Workshop which is designed to help people localise their international experience to get it ready for Australia. I would recommend if you need some help, you join this workshop. It is tempting to go straight to updating your CV or LinkedIn but really, this comes second. Getting clarity on your what will make the job search back home so much easier.