Category Archives: Global Mobility

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!

Because of information overload, our attention span has decreased drastically. This is why marketers like Seth Godin, are going creative about moving strangers into fans and one day into clients. Seth coined the term “Permission Marketing” in contrast to “classical Marketing” where we just blasted the product or service information out there – without the permission and often to the annoyance of the viewer or reader.

Permission marketing means that you have been given the privilege of delivering messages to those who actually want to get them.

In return, you get their attention. Attention is the key to unlocking the mystery of permission marketing. Permission marketers are well aware of its value and they know that they can’t get it back once people stop giving attention to them.

They focus on the concept of acquiring “Real Permission” which is based on your friend or customer or lead to give you their email ID voluntarily.When you have permission your potential clients will  want your message. They will except and wait for your updates and news.

Methods for Successful Permission Marketing

...readers will love your stuff...
If you have permission…

Now there are many creative ways to conduct Permission Marketing. Below are few which we found useful:

1) Subscription

The easiest way is to make people subscribe to your content. It is an act which people do by their own will, not forcefully, thus they are more interested in reading or watching it. Like if you subscribed to a health magazine, don’t you love it when you get it every month? Once you have successfully established your content with your readers or viewers you might be able to charge BUT be careful. You might lose trust if you raise a fee without a good explanation.

2) Free Trial

Another thing that can be done is to show others that it works for free! Find a way to show people exactly what the product do for free. Many products are promoted this way online. Haven’t you tried a free trial of something and ended up buying it because you loved it? Giving free trials do increase the cost of marketing so make sure you are doing it to only your target market.

3) Good Cause

Give your clients something to be proud of! If you can link your product or services to a good cause they will feel like they are contributing positively to the society. It is good for your promotion as well because then selling things doesn’t look like you are bragging. However, your good cause has to be genuine.

4) Blogging by using 80/20 Rule

Create a way of giving away 80% of what others want to read with 20% of your own marketing. This way the content you share gets more shares and it keeps circulating into different circle. But yes, don’t forget to add 20% of your marketing into blogs so that you can overall benefit through it. Here it depends what you “sell”. If you sell your expertise you might not even need to market. You can just shine by showing your expertise in your blog and adding real value to the knowledge of your readers.

5) Ask your Fans for Help and Support

Try to take help of your friends. By friends I mean all those prospects who gave you permission. Give them incentive to spread your information on to their friends so that they also start feeling like a part of what you are selling. Sense of ownership and incentive creates awesome marketing.

Homework: Please work on your marketing and communications plan and tell us what your experience with permission marketing is. What are your struggles?

by Maria GorskiMariaMaria 2013_21-2-1 (1)Maria

We are still unpacking the remains of our container, which arrived from Zurich last week. This is our third international move and we have arrived back in Denver, Colorado after almost 7 years abroad. When we decided to move back to the US, I was prepared for a bit of “reverse culture shock”. My initial mixed feelings are slowly waning as life returns to some level of normality.

Reflecting my experiences

As I adjust, I am reflecting back on my experiences of new cultures from Sydney and Zurich. Both have taught me so much. Sometimes I have a tough time pin pointing exactly what I am feeling because the changes in my perceptions are so subtle. For instance, the first time I spoke to my sons’ elementary school principal, I was shocked that he had referred himself as “Chris” and not “Mr. Goydin”.

Of course, he called me by my first name as well. It took me a few minutes to figure out why this seemed so odd. I had to get used to talking to someone with this level of informality, which wouldn’t necessarily happen in Switzerland. After that experience, I really began to appreciate a certain level of casual friendliness amongst people here. It just makes the daily chores and errands less stressful.

Kai
my son in the boxes

Finding Patience and Kindness for oneself and others

Emotionally, I think the key to adjusting is patience. Finding patience and kindness for oneself and others, especially those closest to you can make all the difference. Unexpected problems will inevitably come up. When multiple “little problems” keep cropping up day after day, the point might come when you are pushed into a rage over a relatively minor thing, like the garage door opener not working. It is times like these when humor can save the day.

Keeping a sense of Humor

Looking for the positive in situations and keeping a sense of humor also goes a long way to ease the stress of starting anew. As the cliché goes, “every cloud has a silver lining”. Lots of rain makes for lush green scenery and lots of rules make for a predictable, well-functioning society. After it’s all said and done, I have to say “it is good to be back”. It has been great to slip back into old friendships, feel free to chat with strangers, and enjoy my new community. Though we are still finding our way around the area, as the place has changed.

I love tricky issues of my clients.

Solving them in seven Steps
Solving them in seven Steps

Actually, this is a wacky part of my personality and according to a test I had this ability already in grade 3. The school told my parents that I make mistakes when I have an easier task in math but when the task is difficult I solve it. I like challenges and I like to find solutions to situations that seem hard to sort out. That’s probably why I enjoy Global Mobility.

Often you need to look at an issue from various angles (technical, relational, cultural and legal) in order to find a good solution. Recently, I was asked to solve an issue, which was tricky for the person involved. So, I thought about this a bit more and came up with the seven-step process below.

The issue seems profane but I will use it here for illustration purposes. My client moved from the USA to Switzerland. He wanted to bring his car over. We knew that the car would need a few technical changes before it would pass the Swiss emissions and technical test that is a precedent to have the car registered. Without registration the car cannot be insured and without insurance the car could not be driven in Switzerland according to the relocation service. The part that did not seem to work out was the question how to get the car from the warehouse (where it would be unloaded) in Spreitenbach to the car dealer in Waedenswil who would take care of the technical changes. The available interim insurance would only cover damages to the car but was not going to cover any third-party liability damages. So if my client had an accident he would be in a very risky position. Also, the police in Switzerland is very strict so they would probably fine him if they saw him drive with US number plates.

The seven Step Approach to solving tricky Issues:

Step 1: Get the full picture and sketch it on a piece of paper

I thought we might have overlooked something critical in the process so I started to call all the involved parties again (relocation agent, insurance broker and garage owner).

Step 2: Add all the involved parties and how they relate to each other

I knew these people were not competition technically so that every one would provide one part of a service in a chain. I asked all of them for ideas to solve the issue and got a good hint from the insurance broker.

Step 3: Open up any closed communication channels between involved parties or play the communicator between all of them.

As three parties did not communicate with each other I had to ensure that they would all communicate with me now instead of my client. They all trust me so that was easy. I also asked the garage owner if he could give additional support and how much he would charge for picking the car up with an interim license plate.

...you don't really need cars in Switzerland.
…you don’t really need cars in Switzerland.

Step 4: Design a solution

After I had spoken to all of them I gave my client advice to change the process so that the garage owner could actually pick up the car for him in Spreitenbach. My client liked the idea. He will also save about 400 CHF for the company.

Step 5: Pilot it

In real life there are often little details we overlook so I am a big fan of piloting new processes and projects before implementing them. In this case I just have one chance to get it right but the risk is a lot lower now as the garage owner will use his own number plates and he will be able to speak to the police. What we learnt in the pilot is that there can be capacity issues and that planned processes need a bit of buffer time. (Here the container was delayed and as it was the middle of summer holidays we did not have the capacity to get everything done fast.)

Step 6: Develop a process

After the pilot we will use this method to solve similar issues. Once you apply the same method you basically have a process or methodology in place.

Step 7: Review and improve until it becomes a routine

Every year you should review all your processes. In the meantime there might be better technological developments or you can take out complicated steps in.

Which issue did you recently solve with the seven step plan? Tell us in the comments.

Even though I started to prepare the steps needed for launching my business back in 2010 it still took me about two years until I dared to jump ship and leave my well-paid manager job at a large professional services firm and a long-term career in International Human Resources. Quite frankly, my ego was boosted by my work and starting a company you need to have a lot of self-confidence because you might lose everything: Money, status, your partner, sleep and a lot of your beliefs.

What no one tells you when you start out is how long it actually takes to be sustainable. I heard rumors but I did not believe everything. Also, I might have approached my business development from the wrong angle. I am not the cold-calling type and I am not the email marketer. When I look at writers or marketers from the US I see how they offer their services and I know now that I still have a lot to learn.

What I would like to tell you is that you will eventually get rewarded and you will eventually have a better life altogether but you need to be persistent, patient and pragmatic.

What I wish someone had told me in 2012:

1) Prioritize your clients. Use 70% of your time for delivering an outstanding product or excellent service to your clients. 20% of your time you should network with current and future clients, 10% you need to do accounting, marketing and other business development work.

2) Build and maintain your network. In the beginning work with your personal contacts before you start traditional business development.

3) Analyze your niche. Understand your competitors, their products or services and price structures. Define your ideal costumer. Focus on where you stand out.

4) Market, market and market. Spend time and money for Marketing, especially in a professional website. If you have zero money but time start with Social Media. Facebook still creates attention. Know where your ideal clients hang out. It might be LinkedIn, Pinterest or Twitter. Go there.

5) Get the basics right. I know too many business owners who have never made a business plan. If you do not know the meaning of cash flow and break even your work is a hobby not a business. Cash flow is a constant challenge in the first two years so learn to manage your invoices and hire an accountant. >> Work with your business plan.

Angela Weinberger

 

6) Limit your financial risk. Start with a limited financial risk by opening a limited liability company. If you want to sell handmade socks you might not need to do that but in general it is better to protect your personal assets. Most business advisors will tell you that you need to be able to survive the first year without income. Check as of when you need to do a proper annual statement.

7) Learn everything about running a business. Work in all areas of a business from Accounting to Social Media Marketing. Then when you have done it once you can outsource the areas you have no passion or patience for. Study all the time. Challenge yourself by asking yourself questions outside of your comfort zone.

8) Find your strategic “friends” in the market and build partnerships. Build strategic friendships with business owners you like and who support and motivate you. Find likeminded peers and use each other as a support group.

9) Plan what you give in exchange for “favors”. Offer time exchange and internships if you cannot afford to hire someone. Respect other people’s time commitment and aim for balance between giving and taking. Give more and go the extra mile.

10) Enjoy your profession and build your life around your business. Get a cleaning person and other support for your household, childcare, shopping because this will give you more freedom to focus on your profession. I try to shop online only (but I regularly buy my groceries in the neighborhood). I had to minimize expenses but I love to buy gadgets that are tools for my work.