Building your career after repatriation

The Wall Street Journal recently published the article: “10 Tips for Handling Reverse Culture Shock,” which had some really great thoughts. First and foremost, though, it was interesting to see an article that shines a light on the most underestimated aspect of an international assignment – coming home.Building your career after repatriation

In my experience, companies and individuals alike can be very blasé about the challenges of returning home, and do not consider the prospect of not being able settle back in – personally or professionally.

Missing the red flags could mean that the employee feels alienated and leaves the organization shortly after repatriating. On the surface, this may seem less damaging than returning from the host country early. But this is still an indication that the ROI of the assignment has not been met. Failing to build on the experience is a sure fire way to become a training ground for your competitors!

Build a repatriation plan before the assignment even begins

Even if it’s not a specific role there should be a career path that capitalizes on the new skills that will be learned on the assignment. After all, it’s the high performers that are being moved around the world and those are the employees that need to be retained.

However, the responsibility doesn’t just sit with the employer. The family has a part to play. Three years or more is a long time to remember how you’ve changed and grown. Keep a log of successes and activities, no matter how small, and develop that into the three or four new skills that have been formed.

The truth is, most people back home have limited interest in hearing about your adventures. So break it down into bite-sized chunks – especially if you are trying to demonstrate how the assignment has equipped you with new global skills.

Create your assignment “elevator pitch”

You would have had some great experiences on your assignment, but think about how these experiences can be translated into important skills to benefit a new professional role.

  • You rode an elephant?! So what? It demonstrates that you will try new things
  • You learned a new language? Great! You can pick up new skills quickly
  • You made new friends? Sure did! It means that you can build trust and relationships across cultures

Think a little deeper about your experiences and people will become avid listeners.

Written by Joanne Danehl, Global Practice Leader, Intercultural and Language Training