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The dual career: your new challenge has HR managers

The new challenge for international mobility managers and HR is not only to take into account the spouse, but above all his or her career. Indeed, more than 80% of expatriates' spouses interviewed before their departure say they want to work.

It is therefore crucial for recruiters to take this desire into account and consider the importance of the dual career among expatriate couples. On the one hand, to allow the expatriation to take place and on the other hand, to make it a success.

What do spouses expect from expatriation?

However, it is not as simple as that. If most spouses declare, before their departure, they want to work, once on site the reality is quite different.


Before their departure, the spouses have many projects and motivations such as:

  • having a personal professional project

  • maintaining their standard of living

  • avoiding the economic consequences of a possible separation

  • not to have a career gap on their CV

  • obtaining social recognition in their new country

  • update their skills

  • being part of a team to avoid isolation..





The reality is quite different because once there, only 1 out of 2 spouses will find a job. And this for various reasons.



They do not find jobs equivalent to the position they held. They are not being accompanied, they prefer to "take care" of the children. The job they were doing doesn't exist in this country... and many more reasons.



An important point made by Dominique: «Today, couples have integrated the fact that they may not be together forever. So they need to secure the future. Preparing for retirement, for example, is a real problem. What happens if I sacrifice three or four years of my career for a spouse I may not be living with in ten years? »

Not working during the expatriation will certainly penalize them on the spot, but even more so upon their return. Because this absence of work for a more or less long period of time will have repercussions on their CV, leaving a "hole".

Because of this break in their career, most of them will not find a job equivalent to the one they had before leaving, both in terms of hierarchical level and in terms of income.




Why do you now need spouses for a successful expatriation?

Note that what we have just discussed concerns only expatriations that have taken place. Now, it is important to know that about 1 in 3 failed expatriations are caused by the spouse, according to the Brookfield Relocation Trends Survey.



A KPMG survey has shown the importance of securing a job for the spouse, as currently 58% of executives whose spouses are employed are less likely to voluntarily expatriate.

The testimony of Emmanuelle, a expat partner confirms this study :

“…He had three offers and each time we refused so as not to impact my career…”

These surveys show the importance of expatriates' spouses in the recruitment process. International mobility managers and HR directors can no longer afford not to take the spouse's career into account. On the one hand, spouses want to work during expatriation, on the other hand, potential expatriates are "retained" by these same spouses. The key to success for recruiters looking for international talents is therefore what they have to offer to spouses. This is why the term Dual Career makes sense.




If you liked this article you might want to check out this one, and discover why you should recrute an atypical profile


This article is based on the book Managing Dual Career Expat Couples by Armelle Perben. If you want to learn more about this book check out this website.

And if you want to purchase the book click here.



Do you agree with us? Do you also find that the place of the spouse has gained in importance in the issues related to expatriation?






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