Dual Career Issues As A Couple After Relocation

Even if you’re super excited about the new position or company, moving or relocating is still complicated. Potential obstacles to international assignment success are almost innumerable: tax complications, cultural incompatibility, economic crises, security concerns and political unrest. With all of this, what remains the biggest threat to assignment success? It comes not from external forces, but from within. Study after study shows that family concerns are the leading cause of failure among expatriate employees.

So here you are, settled in Switzerland and ready to start looking for a job. Your spouse, whose international assignment led you here, in the first place, is trying to adjust to his/her new job. The children are feeling comfortable in their new school and your house finally feels like home. Eager to re-establish your professional self, you prep your résumé, send it out and wait for the interview invitations to roll in. After all, you’ve been working in your field for 15 years in a well-known company. So what’s with all the rejection emails you’re getting?
When a dual-career family accepts an international assignment, it’s likely that the trailing spouse will be left with the challenge of finding a new professional identity. In many cases the visa issued to the non-working partner limits the kind of contracted employment they can accept, the type of work that existed back home doesn’t necessarily exist in Switzerland or requires speaking the local language plus one of the other three official languages, and sometimes it’s a simple matter of adapting your résumé to Swiss standards. For example, it’s perfectly acceptable and expected to include your picture, birth date, marital status, citizenship and visa type in your résumé.0010044439P-849x565
An experienced international career consultant can be an essential ingredient to the success of an overseas assignment, helping the accompanying partner to avoid the pitfalls of an interrupted career, even if employment is not an available option. If an organization wants to protect and capitalize on its investment in global assignments, it needs to address the needs of the whole family in its international relocation policy. And in today’s world, this includes offering assistance that addresses the career aspirations of the accompanying partner.
Expat spouses who are in search of new employment, is a common theme for many coaching sessions. Giving up your career for the sake of your partner’s means you’ve lost an important part of yourself and often feel lost. While the assigned partner starts a new career and receives career coaching from his/her company, the non-working partner is on his/her own, feeling alone and depressed. This inevitably leads to frustrations in the relationship.

What can you do, when you are in such a situation?
1. Gather as much information about your host labour market as possible.
2. Take time to get to know your new environment before you decide to get employed.
3. Find professional advice on how to adapt your résumé to the local market.
4. Define your transferrable and global skills.
5. Discuss freelancing with your former employer before you quit.
6. Get a “return ticket” to your former employer.
7. Choose volunteer services that would enhance your resume.
8. If not employed immediately, use the time to further your education or diploma.
9. Discuss with your spouse how your career, not just theirs, will benefit from the move.
10. Agree on a long-term vision of both of your careers and how they will fit in your life plan.

Relocation itself could be one of the most stressful changes in life but these tips and advices will not only help during your time in Switzerland, but also prepare you for the next time you move to a new place.

Tell us about challenges that you’ve faced during your transition!



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  1. Pingback: The changing Role of Global Mobility | Global People Transitions

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