Why Don’t Local Recruiters Get It? How to sell your international career story when you come home

In my latest podcast I talk to Jane Holman who after a five-year senior HR career in New York was told by an Australian recruiter that her overseas experience was not relevant.  Not only that, it was a deterrent to future employers.

This was despite Jane having a lengthy career in Australia before she left and despite some global brands on her CV gained in New York.

I would like to say her experience was unique, but so often I hear from returning expats the challenges they have translating their overseas experience for local recruiters.  Many local recruiters equate time overseas as ‘time out of the market’ and therefore having out of date networks or understanding of local business practices.

The reality is, for most expats, it would take more than five years for us to stop understanding how to work ‘Australian’!

However Australia is a small market and expats coming home need to be aware of the challenges they could face if they have spent large chunks of time overseas and don’t come home with a job.  Chances are the recruiter you are talking to, hasn’t worked overseas and therefore may find it hard to understand and then ‘sell’ your skills to an employer.  They simply don’t know what to do with your overseas experience and how to package it.

Here are some of my key tips for managing how you protect and package your international experience on your return trip home.

  • Planning is paramount: Just as you do with any other move, start planning well before you get on the plane. Defining what it is that you need from your career and lifestyle will help you make informed and timely decisions, regardless of your primary motivation for returning. If your desire is to transfer your career at a near similar level, your engagement with the local market should start at least 6-12 months prior to arrival – and even longer if you are in the senior leadership ranks.
  • Do your market research: While it is important to know what you can and want to do, it is another thing to know what the market will let you do. Australia is a significantly smaller market than where most expats are returning from. It is also highly networked and is imperative that you understand the local industry drivers, key business and leadership changes and the ‘on the ground’ challenges being faced.
  • Connect, connect, connect: The importance of our networks cannot be under-estimated, and the digital tools at our disposal make it entirely possible to begin building or re-establishing your networks before you return. Map your ‘old’ networks but take the time to identify who the key people are in the industries, organisations and roles that are of interest to you.
  • Hone your positioning: It is important to articulate your offshore experience and do so with local relevance. Often, you may need to communicate this to an audience who has no experience with the scale, diversity or level of complexity you have been exposed to. With the ever present ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, doing so without downplaying your value or experience is one that requires very real consideration.
  • Build your resilience: Too often we fail to adequately prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for the move back to a once familiar place. Just because we have lived here successfully once before doesn’t mean it will be easy – in fact it is often the hardest move you will ever make. People change, communities change, we change. Knowing how and where we fit in that new landscape is a journey in and of itself.
  • Join the Insync community! Finding others who ‘get it’ when it comes to moving home plays an enormous part in successfully transitioning. Like many of the expat communities that we are returning from, there is an intuitive understanding of the journey you are on and a strong desire to support through the sharing of knowledge, insights and networks