Expat partners in USA, same difficulties?
Mis à jour : août 21
At Absolutely Talented, we want to speak about expat partners who come in France, but also expat partners all around the world.
Because everywhere, we can meet expat partners.
That’s why in this article, we interview Caroline Vaquette,
who is a French expatriate in USA.
Is the vision of expat partner the same all around the world?
- Where do you come from?
I come from France, and I spent 4 years in Asia between 2014 and 2018, before arriving in the US where I am based now.
- What is your background?
I have almost 20 years experience in Europe and Asia driving growth for global companies, developing business and people.
- Is it your first expatriation?
Living in the US is my second expatriation and it’s a wonderful experience to get the chance to know this country, its people with diverse ethnicities, its history/culture and also its way of living and working.
- How was your arrival in USA? Did you want to work at the beginning?
I arrived in September 2018 and first I wanted to understand more about my new environment and get connected with my new community.
As an expat partner, it’s important to play this key role for the happiness of the whole family. Then, it was time to think about me.
I pursued and received a Strategic Management Certificate from Georgetown University. In addition, during one year, I took time to do some personal discovery and development work, which led to some deep reflection and realizations, to articulate more clearly my life’s mission.
I joined a women group of pioneers with the PPV Executive Program.
Knowing the battles I wish to lead in the next phase of my career and professional life was important before looking for a job.
- And now?
I have been looking for a job for 5 months and I have met an average of 5 new contacts a week including people actively working in companies, recruiters or head-hunters.
I would like to thank all my connections because thanks to each of them,
every day, I have learned additional information to succeed in my job search.
Applying thanks to a referral is the best way,
compared to the traditional online application.
- What do you think about the image of expat partners in France? In USA?
The image of expat partners suffers of unconscious bias, as the partner is perceived as someone with a lot of personal constraints. Companies may have a lot of questions about an expat or a foreigner’s application such as how long she/he will stay? Is she/he proficient enough in the local language? Is she/he authorized to work? Is she/he really willing and able to work? Does she/he need to work? Can we successfully integrate her/him?
My recommendation? Instead of making assumptions based on a resume, please give people a chance and interview the candidate to evaluate possibilities together!
- Did you write on your CV that you are an expat partner?
No because of all the unconscious bias behind the word “expat partner”. Being foreigner might already be a problem. During phone interviews, I answer to the question “why are you here now?” and recruiters know at this point that my god, I am … expat partner!
- How did you learn English? Did you get some help to learn it?
I learned English during my first expatriation by practising at work.
- Did you find a job in your new country?
Not yet, because it’s harder when you already have experience and you are perceived as over-qualified even if you are ready to restart from 0.
- Do you feel integrated in USA?
Yes and not yet totally. Yes because I am involved in a lot of volunteering and also as Board Member of the Parents Association of the International French school which includes more than 80 nationalities. And No, because I will be really integrated when I will get a job and be invited for Thanks Giving at American’s friends’ homes.
- What could possibly prevent an expatriate partner from being hired?
Expatriate partner could be prevented from being hired because companies prefer to hire people who will stay longer.
But everybody may have a partner in life and may have some constraints also.
Companies never know : a lot of expats stay longer in the job than local talents. Here in the US, it’s easier for local talents to be called for another job and in the end, local talents may sometimes stay less longer in a job
than an expat spouse would.
Also, foreigners might be extremely committed and engaged at work as she/he knows that it needs to be a win-win for the hiring manager who trusted her/him.
- What would you say to an employer who hesitates to hire an expat partner?
Please do not assume!
Evaluate the candidate only and not her/his personal life.
Please take the risk, try and you will be really satisfied to win an international talent with the competencies you were looking for,
diversify your team and get new insights.
- According to you, does France have the same vision of expat partners as USA?
Unfortunately yes, foreigners are not in their local country and it’s challenging to find a job when you are not an internal expat sent by your own company.
So many expat partners give up, discover new passion or create their own business.
But there are also some expat partners who will never give up and will never quit their new country without finding a real job, and this is my case!
- Do you think that these expatriations have given you new soft skills?
Thanks to the first expatriation, I reinforced my social connectivity skills and my level of adaptability and flexibility. I also developed new competencies in Human Resources, project management and change management. These new abilities are now some transferrable skills I can offer in addition of my can do attitude.
After 6 months of research, Caroline finds that there is a positive change and
the interviews are accelerating. We wish her a great success in her project.
To promote the soft skills and competencies you developp in a global assignment,
Impact Group will animate a workshop on the November 17th,
Don't miss it, join us at Absolutely Talented!
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