Championing dual careers: promoting successful assignments

For an international assignment to be a success, companies should ensure that they provide support for spouses and partners looking for work in the new location, explains Nancy Dickinson of FOCUS.

Championing dual careers: vital for assignment success
Company support for those spouses and partners of international assignees who want to work in their new location is essential to assignment success, says Nancy Dickinson, deputy executive director of London-headquartered employee support organisation FOCUS and winner of Relocate’s 2017 Exceptional Contribution to Relocation award.Attitude is everything! Ah, but if only relocating a dual-career family were as simple as instilling a positive frame of mind. Adopting and maintaining a positive outlook is one of the key ingredients of a successful relocation, but there is plenty more that can, and should, be done to support dual-career families.Setting expectations is the first step in ensuring that a relocation is embraced. Too often, the host location and the logistics are the sole focus of the relocation, when, in fact, it is the accompanying partner’s potential employability that will make or break the success of the assignment.

Laying firm jobseeking foundations before arrival

It is essential for the jobseeking partner to acquire knowledge of the local jobs market prior to arriving, or soon after. At FOCUS, we have seen members looking for work who have moved from countries where the hiring process moves faster or the market is more fluid. Without a clear understanding of local recruitment processes and practices, the partner may soon find themselves discouraged, having expected to find work in what, for the UK, is an unrealistic timeframe.A bit of research into whether their qualifications are transferrable and the current state of the market in their desired sector can also go a long way to adjusting their expectations and avoiding unnecessary frustrations.Once expectations are set, it is crucial to provide an avenue for the jobseeking partner to gain the practical tools required to compete in the local market. Many individuals embark on a relocation with a great sense of confidence in their career achievements, but lack the ability to market themselves successfully. This can be either because they have not needed to in the past or because their approach does not match the style of their new host country.

Offering practical support to jobseekers

There are many online tools to assist with adapting a covering letter, a CV or networking techniques, but these are insufficient in other key areas, such as support, motivation and accountability. When led by a career coach in a small-group setting, jobseekers are more likely to establish a network and thereby maintain the drive needed to stick to their job search.After all, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that these individuals are not only looking for work but also adapting to a new country, setting up home, and often dealing with a loss of identity on multiple levels, having given up a career as well as their support network.
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The fact that an accompanying partner may have gained an understanding of the local jobs market and acquired the practical career tools does not guarantee that success is around the corner. In today’s competitive market, it is inevitable that some, if not many, will hit obstacles and face rejection before landing their dream job. Therefore, making ongoing career support available is essential.

Flexibility in jobseeker programmes – the secret

Offering a variable suite of programmes they can draw on gives jobseekers the flexibility to use what best suits their needs at any stage of their search. A group environment may be a good initial step, but perhaps, as their search progresses, they would benefit from one-to-one coaching to prepare for an upcoming interview, or would gain confidence from a group workshop on public speaking.There is much that can, and should, be done to support dual-career families. First and foremost, the importance of championing an accompanying partner’s job search needs to be acknowledged and embraced. With any dual-career move, much of the measure of the relocation’s success will be down to the accompanying partner’s ability to secure a job. Attitude will follow!For more information, see Family support and its relocation policy implications

FOCUS Career Development Programme

This popular programme has an outstanding record of helping relocating partners to find work in the UK.

Key 2017 dates:

Introduction to FOCUS Career Development Programme Wednesday 13 September, 11.00–12.30
Learn how we can help kick-start your career search during this informative overview. Free for FOCUS members and non-members.
Four-week career workshops
Tuesdays 19 and 26 September and 3 and 10 October A comprehensive, intense four-week programme split into two groups, Explorers and Fast Trackers. Become a FOCUS member to join these workshops for free.
Why does everyone but me seem confident?
Thursday 5 October, 10.30–12.30
How to acquire the confidence needed for a successful job search. Free for FOCUS members; £25 for non-members.
Skills to stand out, get ahead and succeed
Thursday 12 October, 18.30–20.30
Author Sarah Brummitt will show you how to enhance your personal impact and convey gravitas. Free for FOCUS members; £25 for non-members.
To see the full calendar of FOCUS events into 2018, visit www.focus-info.org
Relocate Magazine front cover Autumn 2017
Read about policy implications for relocating staff members in the Autumn issue of our magazine
For related news and features, visit our Partner & family support section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit © 2017. This article first appeared in the Autumn 2017 edition of Relocate magazine, published by Profile Locations, Spray Hill, Hastings Road, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8JB. All rights reserved. This publication (or any part thereof) may not be reproduced in any form without the prior written permission of Profile Locations. Profile Locations accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein.

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