Business Bee #3: Here’s to supporting more expat spouses with job search

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Nothing excites me more than working with clients who have a vision. It makes me sad when I see that the spark in their eyes got lost somewhere along the way but then it is even more heart-touching when I can see them pulling themselves together again.

As a professional career and executive coach (and in personal experience) I know that you have to walk through a valley of tears, embarrassment and shame before you can really shine. It is almost like to story of a butterfly. When we are in the cocoon phase it is better if no one sees us. My clients report of depressed feelings, shame that they are not productive, feeling fat, feeling old and a general loss of identity. “I do not really know who I am anymore.” is a sentence I hear regularly. I admire companies who understood that the expat spouse (life partner, “trailing spouse”) is a major stake in the international assignment experience of an expat. Still, many companies pretend that this is a “personal issue” and the employer is not to interfere in the personal life.


(Me to company: “Can you please take off that corporate policy hat and look at what you have in front of you: A real human being in flesh and blood.”)

Your employers are interfering BIG time when they send you from one country to another. It is even more of a life-changing situation when they offer you a local contract. Think of it this way:

  1. You move from one country to another take on a job in an environment you hardly know.
  2. Often you do not even know the host country language.
  3. Your work and residence status often depends on the company providing the job. Often your spouse is not even allowed to work. (If you’re not legally married or homosexual you might not even get a residence permit in many countries.)
  4. Your support structure (extended family, close friends, household helpers, childcare, dog sitters) breaks down.
  5. Your spouse/ partner not only leaves this support structure but also their career and professional network.

While the employer cannot replace everything the expat family had at home, the least a company could do is provide host language tuition and job search assistance for the partner. Believe me, the days when an expat club membership or a lump sum solved everything are long gone. I want you to be excited about going abroad on an adventure with your spouse, so negotiate for these two items if nothing else.

Should you need assistance please contact us via email or contact form.

Angie Weinberger

PS: If you are a GM Professional and have any questions on work and residence permits in Switzerland do not hesitate to contact us.


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