Accompanying partners – do they or circumstance influence their career choices?
Recently I was talking about the services that I offer to accompanying partners through Success Abroad Coaching with some friends ‘back home’. I was explaining that finding fulfilling and meaningful work whilst abroad can be quite a challenge for many partners.
Friends turned to look at me in surprise and one said:
“Not working is an issue? I’d love to not have to work, to have some time for myself, to pursue some hobbies, study, take a career break”
Certainly from afar the life of the expatriate partner can seem very appealing. Escaping from ones old life can be exciting and an initial career break is often very attractive. However, for some, the luxury of no work deadlines can soon start to fade after a while.
I know this to be the case from my personal experience. I have lived abroad for over twelve years in total. I remember enjoying my first six months of employment freedom in Madrid. However I soon became desperate to get back to the world of work. Too much time spent alone with my Spanish grammar convinced me that I was not cut out for this rather lonely version of a “life of leisure”.
And it would seem that I am not alone in this respect. According to the Permits Foundation Report in 2008, 89% of expatriate male partners and 73% of expatriate female partners do want to work whilst abroad.
However, only 35% in total reported that they were working in their host location whilst 90% had been working prior to relocating abroad.
This statistic quite honestly shocked me. Yes I want to work, but I wasn’t aware that at least seven out of every ten accompanying partners that I meet are also harbouring a desire for employment.
We Want to Understand
As I started to think about this I realised I wanted to understand this issue in more depth. What are the factors that mean that partners often keep their career aspirations as exactly that – aspirations? What role do practical issues such as work permits and non-recognition of qualifications play? What other factors influence their decision to put careers on hold?
In order to better understand the issue of career choice and the accompanying partner, I (Louise Wiles, Success Abroad Coaching) and Evelyn Simpson (The Smart Expat) have launched a survey designed to uncover the career aspirations and motivations of accompanying partners.
We hope that by understanding better the partners motivations and aspirations and the factors that impact on their career choices, organisations can be encouraged to provide more targeted and therefore effective career assistance for accompanying partners.
The survey will help us to better understand the key factors that most commonly influence the career choices of the accompanying partner. It will also help us to understand what impact not working has on the personal fulfilment and life satisfaction of accompanying partners?
The survey only takes fifteen minutes to complete, is totally anonymous and we would really appreciate your participation and honest feedback. Please go to this link to complete the survey.
If you would like a copy of the summary report which will be available in the Spring of 2012 then please click DONE on the final thank you page and you will be taken to a new page where you can leave your name and email address. You will also be added to our prize draw where we are offering a number of books and coaching packages.
If you are able to forward this article and link on to other accompanying partners we would be very grateful. The greater the number of participants the more reliable and representative the results will be.
Louise Wiles is an expatriate coach and founder of Success Abroad Coaching. She works with potential expatriates as they work through their relocation decisions and then provides ongoing support as they relocate. Her business focuses on helping accompanying partners create fulfilled lives in their new locations.
Louise’s partner in this survey, Evelyn Simpson, is the founder of The Smart Expat. She works with the accompanying partners of expats as they adapt their lives and identities in their new countries and find ways to lead meaningful lives without their familiar work, activities and support systems.