4 Ways COVID-19 Has Given Me a Deeper Appreciation for My Expat Journeys

Expat journey gratitude

Being at Home

When I first embarked upon my expat adventures, I had no plans of returning to the U.S. My goal was to perpetually live abroad though I wasn’t married to any particular country during that time. I simply loved the thrill that I got from exploring different parts of the world and I knew that international travel would forever be part of my life at the onset of my first expat adventure.

However, I was forced to move back to the U.S. in July 2018 due to some major health complications that my husband was experiencing at the time. So I reluctantly packed my bags and headed back home so that my husband could get the help that he needed. Fortunately, my husband has recovered and is doing much better now.

While I still miss being an expat, I realize that we came back home just in time. We had no idea that a global pandemic would hit less than two years after our return. Though, I am greatly empathetic toward expats who are experiencing precarious situations. My heart goes out to anyone who is suffering in any way due to COVID.

Being in our home country has many advantages in situations like this. One of the most important benefits of being home is that we are closer to our extended family and friends during this time of uncertainty. This gives us easier access to a support system that we would not have readily had access to if we were still abroad.

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Additionally, we don’t have to worry about other nuisances involved in expat life right now. Since we are home, we qualify for and have access to job, business, and other forms of governmental assistance, if we need it. We don’t have to be concerned about passport, visa, contract, or other document renewals and/or fees during this time. We don’t have to worry about the possibility of being stranded outside of our home country for extended periods of time. And, we have access to a strong, viable healthcare system and healthcare insurance scheme among other things.

Don’t misunderstand me – I still wholeheartedly support expat life. Yet, as amazing as being an expat can be it also has its disadvantages during both good and bad times. This shutdown has just made me truly appreciate being home for these and many other reasons.

Being from a Developed Country

Until now nothing has made me more appreciative of the comforts, amenities, and luxuries that are available in the U.S. As my son and I were taking a stroll through the almost deserted walkway in the back of our house a few weeks ago, I began to marvel at just how clean and inviting the space was. This is by no means nothing new as our neighborhood is always immaculately clean and beautifully landscaped. Even more, our community is normally filled with the laughter of young children, the barking of dogs, the thunder of little bodies moving around the playground, or the peaceful quiet of daybreak.

But what dawned on me this day was not the absence of these sounds or activities, but instead the absence of such scenery in other parts of the world. I have lived in and traveled to some of the most destitute parts of the world where living in a clean, safe community is considered a luxury. The majority of the population in these countries lived in extreme poverty and in very depressing environments.

I am definitely not saying that the U.S. is always clean and safe because we likewise have poverty, homelessness, and crime. However, there is a stark difference in the everyday environment in developed versus developing parts of the world. And, it is heartbreaking. So in that moment I started to give thanks and praise for the many comforts that I have enjoyed throughout my life as a U.S. citizen living in America and abroad.

Being Able to Travel

As the saying goes, “you don’t miss your well until the water runs dry”. And indeed the travel waters have ran dry over the past few months. My family had a few trips planned for this summer that are now forgone wishes. Fortunately, we were planning to purchase our plane tickets the week after COVID was declared a pandemic but we weren’t able to because of the virus. So we didn’t have to deal with complicated cancellation or exchange policies. However, we are dealing with an impending thrills-free summer and possibly winter and spring too.

Though this is not the ideal situation, I can easily cope with it because of the many adventures I have had through my expat journeys. I have amazing memories and beautiful pictures of some of the most exotic places that I have visited around the world. These thoughts and images are enough to pass the time during the next few months or so.

Undoubtedly these cherished memories have given me plenty of reasons to be grateful for my past travel experiences on every level. Not only I am appreciative of the tangible benefits I have experienced by being able to live in and travel to different parts of the world, I am also thankful for the myriad of mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits that I have reaped from my expat journeys.

Mentally, my expat travels have changed the way I view the world and how I think holistically. I am no longer an American citizen (except according to my passport) – instead I am a global citizen. I am concerned about how everything impacts the world at large because I know that the world is united by one common thread.

Emotionally, I am better able to cope with difficult situations because of my travel experiences. If you travel abroad enough, you will inevitably experience hardships and difficulties that you have very little to no control over. So you learn to cope – the sooner you learn to do so the better. At this stage in my life I can adjust to almost any situation. I didn’t even flinch when COVID was declared a pandemic. I simply started making plans to adjust and deal with our new reality.

Spiritually, I have grown and shifted in so many ways because of the things that I saw and experienced while I was living abroad. I learned so many things about religion and spirituality that changed my entire belief system. To dig into it now would be a disservice to my experiences so suffice it to say that I am immensely grateful for the spiritual lessons that I learned during my expat experiences.

Being with My Family

I am very blessed to have a wonderful husband and two amazing children whom I was able to share all of my expat experiences with. I always had someone by my side during my expat journeys so loneliness was never a major issue for me during that period of my life. However, as awesome as my family is I tend to take their compassion and love for granted at times.

COVID-19 has made me realize the value of having constant companions by my side through thick and thin. Unfortunately, there are many single people who have been shut in by themselves throughout this lockdown. While they may have family and friends, they live by themselves which can make being inside for weeks or months at a time very lonely and depressing.

So I am most appreciative of having my family with whom I can laugh, cry, giggle, scream, and simply just be with.

Need help planning your expat adventure? Contact us so that we can assist you.

A Brave, New Post COVID Workforce

COVID-19 has taught us many lessons in many forms. It has undoubtedly reshaped the way we do business. Aside from the health implications of the virus, it has impacted the workforce greater than any other sector. And, of course, this has had a major impact on the economy as a whole.

As many businesses are beginning to open back up, the exact toll of the virus on the employment sector has not been completely realized. There are many nuisances that we are currently faced with that will continue to challenge business operations for years to come. There are likewise many positive lessons that we will continue to implement when the virus is long gone and in our distant memories.

Here a few ways that COVID-19 has and will continue to impact the workforce…

Remote Work Environments

Given the success that many organizations have had with moving their workforce almost completely online, it is likely that the same organizations will increasingly embrace a remote workforce. This phenomenon is certainly not new, however, it’s ability to be successful has been overwhelmingly proven during the peak of the COVID-19 shutdown. Many employers have now realized the value of remote work environments as they have been able to see the impact of such work spaces on their bottom line. They have been able to save money on space, electricity, equipment, etc.

Virtual Workforce

On one hand a number of employers had to invest heavily in virtual meeting platforms like Skype, Zoom, etc. in order to keep their organizations afloat. On the other hand these same employers were able to save money on costs associated with hosting employees in one or more physical locations.

Additionally employers saw an increase in employee productivity, morale, and retention as organizations were able to accommodate their employees with remote work schedules. When employees work in remote environments they experience fewer workplace related distractions that often result in low productivity. They also gain valuable time not having to travel back and forth to work, which also improves productivity.

Additionally, many workers were forced to stay home during this pandemic to care for children and other shut-in loved ones who required round-the-clock care. The ability to work remotely was a major blessing for them. They could maintain their employment while being able to care for their loved ones, which also boosted their confidence in their organizations. Given the benefits that both employers and employees have realized through the increase in remote or virtual work environments, it is most likely that this trend is here to stay and increase.

Financial and Retirement Planning

As stated earlier, the economy was one of the hardest hit sectors due to the COVID-19 shutdown. Global and national economies have been hit quite hard as evidenced by a very bearish stock market. Undoubtedly these economic woes have reverberated to individuals and families at almost every socioeconomic level. A number of people have been left unemployed, underemployed, furloughed, or otherwise facing uncertain economic times.

Saving, investing, and financial planning

This pandemic was certainly a wake-up call for individuals with poor money management skills. Many people learned very hard, first-hand lessons on how important it is to save, invest, and plan for the future. They saw just how devastating it can be to not have money stored away to fall back on during difficult financial times.

Thus, another way in which COVID-19 has changed the workforce is in the realm of financial and retirement planning. While this may not change how the average person works, it will definitely change how they interact with their earnings. More and more people have realized the benefit and necessity to save and invest in emergency funds and retirement plans.

So there will most likely be major growth in the financial and retirement planning sectors as more people scramble to store away for the future. Financial coaches, advisors, and planners are likely to see a surge in new clients. Even more, they will probably see an upturn in non-traditional clientele as individuals from all walks of life make efforts to improve their financial future.

Career Changes

COVID-19 has shone a glaring spotlight on the viability of almost every employment sector in the developed world. Through this pandemic we have been able to see which jobs have staying power and which ones don’t. This pandemic has been a definite call-to-action for individuals who were underemployed and for those who work in transitional employment sectors.

COVID Unemployment

This crisis has led many to the unemployment and/or interview line in a desperate attempt to secure their financial future. The fact that these individuals have been left without jobs says a great deal about the need for workers in certain industries. Governmental shutdowns almost exclusively targeted non-essential industries, which ultimately means that in times of economic hardship workers in these sectors will suffer the most.

I stated “almost exclusively non-essential industries” because workers in essential industries were also hit. This is not because their jobs are non-essential, but in many cases their jobs are transitional due to automation. Keep in mind that grocers experienced substantial increases in profit throughout these last few months while a number of other sectors were suffering tremendously.

Though many grocers were increasing their bottom line, a number of them were likewise laying off employees. Why? Because they had the capacity to service customers through automated checkout systems at a greater capacity than they did with human employees. This indicates future job cuts in even robust and sustainable industries.

Fortunately, many workers have taken note of this dynamic and have opted to start or continue their education so that they can secure viable employment. Many colleges and universities are experiencing increases in enrollment as more people have seen themselves in the unemployment line due to COVID-19. This trend will only increase as more individuals are forced out of their current jobs.

Summary

While the jury is still out on the overall toll that COVID-19 will have on our everyday lives one thing is for certain – we will not go back to life as usual. This pandemic has shaken and waken us in critical ways. It has given us plenty to think about in terms of how we do business. And it will continue to make us question our old patterns.

Need more help with workforce related issues? Contact us so that we can assist you.

Why Continuing Your Education is Critical in Times of Economic Crisis

Continuing Education During Economic Crises

COVID-19 has taught us many lessons that we will be unpacking for years to come. Top among them is the need for economically viable careers that can withstand the test of crisis. At the writing of this post, a record 10 million Americans have filed corona virus-related unemployment claims and that number is steadily climbing. While the government is actively implementing economic relief programs, unemployment funds haven’t started flowing for many who are out of work right now.

Some of the worst hit industries are food service, hospitality, manufacturing, and retail. The informal economy composed of domestic workers, street vendors, and the like will suffer the most since they aren’t taxed or monitored by the government. This makes them ineligible for unemployment funds and unable to maintain their income, in many instances. The lowest wage earners are also among the largest group impacted by this situation.

Recession-Proof Jobs

Needless to say, the majority of those unemployed don’t have a formal education or training. The corona virus-related unemployment sector is primarily filled with non-essential workers. On the other hand, some jobs are fundamental in this current climate and, in general, are recession-proof. These types of jobs can usually survive the most stifling economic collapse such as the one we are currently faced with. Such jobs include:

Recession-proof careers
  • Healthcare and medical professionals
  • Information technology specialists
  • Law enforcement and correction officers
  • Primary, secondary, and post-secondary educators
  • Social workers and counselors
  • Morticians and funeral workers
  • Public utility and transit staff
  • Emergency care workers

With the exception of a few, most jobs in this category require some type of formal training or education. Formal education may involve a 2-month course of study or more than 12 years of education and residency. In some cases, the work is intense and long but the rewards are plentiful whether we are in an up or down economy.

This is why I consistently advocate for my clients, family, and friends alike to obtain and/or continue their education beyond high school. As an educator by profession, I have seen the value of having a formal education in many situations. This is why I believe in quality, affordable, practical, and beneficial educational pathways that can help those around me remain economically viable.

Now, this situation is a wake-up call to many who did not heed my advice or the advice of others who have shared the same message. But, it is not too late. There are many companies and organizations who will still need formally educated and trained workers now and after this crisis is over.

Therefore, now is the time to continue your education. It is best to start while the need is great and opportunities are plentiful for those who choose recession-proof career paths. While many sectors of the economy are down right now, most colleges and universities are open for business. Most in-person classes have transitioned to the online environment so being confined to your place of shelter is not an obstacle.

Recession-proof careers

Since most educational institutes have embraced technology over the past few decades, many colleges and universities are able to support their students’ needs through various learning management systems and other modalities.

I encourage anyone who is thinking about going back to school to do so now. Whether you already have college credits or not, you can start or re-start your education journey within a few weeks to a few months. In the words of one of the greatest educational thinkers of the last century:

The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.

-Malcolm X

Aside from the obvious future economic benefits of obtaining a formal education, going back to school right now can help you stay productive. Pursuing your education can give you something meaningful and valuable to do during this lock down period. You don’t have to waste endless hours pouring over fear-inducing social media or engaging in other non-productive activities that are not conductive to your financial well-being. Today is the day to begin preparing for the future.

COVID-19 Preparedness for Expat Workers

As I was preparing to write this post my mind went back to the many wonderful adventures that I had as an expat educator. These are experiences that I would not have exchanged for anything in the world during that period of my life. The opportunity to work in a foreign country has many advantages and it is something that I still strongly recommend to those who have insatiable wanderlust.

However, right now things are a bit uncertain for a number of individuals in the expat community. Many expatriates are in very precarious situations as they navigate their way through COVID-19 work and travel restrictions that have left many workers vulnerable. I have been in contact with a number of my expat friends and clients who are experiencing various hardships that are unique to the expat community during this time.

This situation has thrown many people for a loop. However, it is in this hour that we must press forward and persevere as we encounter novel challenges that may require us to make some uncomfortable and possibly anxiety-inducing decisions.

As a former expat who worked in Qatar during the 2017 Qatar blockade, I am very familiar with the fear and anxiety that expats can feel during such times. During that period, Qatar cut off ties with a number of its former neighboring allies resulting in political, social, and economic instability in a large portion of the Gulf region. Many of the region’s expats were very unsure of what to do during that time.

After much thought and consideration I ultimately made the decision to leave the country and the region as a whole. That was the best decision for my family and I based on our circumstances.

As such, I have a great deal of empathy for expats who are away from home right now and are trying to figure out what to do. So I decided to dedicate this post to giving expats tips on how to prepare for the uncertainty that lies ahead. Here are my suggestions:

Save, Save, Save

This should go without saying, but you should save as much money as you possibly can right now. Try to spend your money on essential items only and get limited quantities of the things that you need at this time. I know that this advise is contrary to the general recommendation that people stock up on essential supplies during this pandemic.

However, expats are in a very unique situation. They are not in their country of citizenship and chances are they are on a limited contract subject to cancellation and non-renewal. This can result in unprecedented economic and other hardships for this segment of the workforce.

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Thus, it is likely that some expats may have to leave the country in which they are currently residing so it is not the best idea to stock up on food. It may be better to purchase enough food and supplies for two to three weeks at a time. This way you will have enough resources for your immediate needs but you won’t waste your precious money, if you end up leaving these resources behind.

Expat employers are scrambling to figure out how COVID-19 will impact their organizations. Many sectors have already experienced a significant decrease in the workforce causing them to lay-off or terminate non-essential employees. Oftentimes in the international workforce, non-essential employees equate to expat workers.

Additionally, many of the economic relief programs in various countries are designed for citizens and permanent residents. Expat workers usually cannot avail these options like in the case of Korea. Some countries simply can’t support the economic weight of providing social welfare for every resident of their nations. So they are left with doing the next best thing, which is providing for their own citizens. And this is completely understandable given the circumstances.

However, this does not create the ideal situation for expat workers who may be on the verge of unemployment while they are away from their country of citizenship. Depending on their situation, these same expat workers may not even be able to take advantage of economic relief programs in their countries of citizenship while they are abroad. Therefore, it is in their best interest to hoard as much money as they possibly can right now.

Avail Emergency Fund Options

While some countries are shutting expats out of their COVID-19 economic relief programs, other countries like the UK are instituting measures to assist certain expats and other non-citizen residents in their countries. These types of programs usually apply to exceptional circumstances and are not generally available to all expat workers. However, such funds may be useful to qualifying expats who are experiencing economic hardships.

Additionally, many countries such as the U.S. and Canada have implemented financial assistance programs for their citizens and permanent residents. In many cases, these funds are available to citizens who are currently working, living, or travelling abroad.

If you filed taxes in the U.S. last year or if you own a U.S. based small business, you may qualify for a variety of economic stimulus programs under the CARES act. The good thing about the relief available to U.S. citizens is that it will be directly deposited in citizens’ bank accounts if their banking information is on file with the IRS. Qualifying small business owners can also apply for loans and grants online. So expats and other citizens who are abroad during this time can still access these programs.

Other countries have similar programs that expatriate citizens may be eligible for. So do your homework and research options that may be available to you through your country of citizenship or your expat country. Don’t miss out on these helpful opportunities as they can be very beneficial during this time.

Avoid Non-Essential Travel

Expat travel adventures during the COVID-19 crisis has led to some pretty interesting travel tales. Many expat educators were enjoying scheduled spring break periods when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. At the same time a number of countries declared state of emergencies in their nations that resulted in the implementation of some pretty austere travel restriction measures.

It is very common for expat workers to travel to other countries during extended break periods such as spring break. As such, a number of expat educators were globe-trotting as their expat countries were banning all non-essential travel in and out of the country.

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Countries like the UAE banned the entry of all non-UAE citizens into the country for two weeks. This left many non-citizen residents stuck outside the country while their jobs, possessions, and, in some cases, family members remained in the UAE. However, the country has now started allowing essential expats back into the country.

However, a number of expats are still not able to enter the country. They have to pay extra money to stay at their vacation location (if a visa extension is possible) or they have to make plans to get back to their country of citizenship. Either way, this situation has resulted in expats spending more money and experiencing higher than normal stress levels in the midst of a pandemic that is economically and emotionally taxing for the entire planet.

This is one reason why it is extremely important to limit travel during this time. Expats have a lot more at stake in terms of job security and life continuity during this time so it is best to travel with caution and trepidation.

Repatriate to Your Country of Citizenship

Now I know my last bit of advise was about limiting travel, but if at all possible expats should try to repatriate to their country of citizenship. There are many air travel restrictions at present so this may not be a viable option for some expats. However, for those who can afford to leave their jobs and pay for transportation and lodging this may be the best option.

We are in a time of grave uncertainty with many predicting that this situation could continue for months. It is best to be around family and loved ones who can support you in your country of citizenship. Without viable employment, many expats’ visas will be cancelled or expire in the coming months, which can result in increased hardships for these displaced workers.

Even countries like Turkey have taken the initiative to bring their citizens back home from hard-hit nations like Kuwait and elsewhere. This shows that national leaders recognize the importance of their citizens being home during a time like this.

Now I know that this is much easier said than done for some expats as there is so much at stake. Some expats don’t have viable employment or means of securing economic relief in their countries of citizenship. Others don’t have a country of citizenship to repatriate to. Still others may not be able to afford the airfare to make it back to their country of citizenship. In such cases, it is best to follow some of the other guidelines listed above.

If you can’t make it back to your country of citizenship right now, be sure to save as much money as possible and research economic relief options that may be available to you. Above all, if you believe in a higher power pray and connect with that power as much as possible.

Need more expat career guidance? Contact us and we can help you determine viable options that meet your needs.

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Tips for Working Remotely During the COVID-19 Quarantine

This COVID-19 situation has caught us all off guard. It has turned the workforce upside down on many levels. Unemployment claims have soared and many part time employees have reduced workloads while employees in high demand industries are being asked to work overtime. Additionally, a great number of us who are fortunate enough to maintain our employment status are now tasked with working remotely, which has created it’s own set of challenges.

I have had the pleasure of being a remotely-based freelance worker for a number of years now due to the nature of my work. So this situation hasn’t been a great challenge for me in this regard. However, my work load has increased significantly since I offer a number of coaching services, which are all in high demand as a result of the COVID-19 situation. Though I am truly grateful for this surge in work, it has kept me away from my blog for a few weeks.

However, it has likewise given me the inspiration for this article since many of my clients have been asking me for suggestions to help them cope with shifting their work space to the virtual environment. So, here are a few tips to help you transition your business or work operations to your home base or other remote location…

Maintain Your Normal Schedule and Routine

Keeping a regular work schedule was tremendously helpful for me when I started working from home. When you work from home, there is technically no going “home” from work. Because you effectively spend the majority of the day in your home when you work from home, it easy to blur the lines between home and work. It is common to find yourself working earlier or later than you would normally work in an office or other setting.

This often happens due to extra pressure or boredom. It is highly likely that you will feel extra pressure when you first start working from home, especially in crisis situations such as the one we are currently faced with. It is likewise normal and acceptable for you to spend more time preparing for and getting acclimated to your new work environment. Learning how to use virtual systems like video conferencing tools and industry specific web-based software can easily add an extra hour or two to your work day.

And, let’s not forget about boredom. After you have binged-watched all the Netflix series that you can digest, it is not uncommon to find yourself checking your work email during your “off hours”. This is also acceptable on occasion, especially since we are being bombarded with an overflow of communication about the COVID-19 situation during the early phases of this work space transition process.

However, overextending yourself too often for too long can easily lead to drain, fatigue, and burnout. So once you get settled and can easily navigate your way around new technology, processes, etc. set an amenable work schedule and stick to it. It is best to stick to your normal work schedule, if at all possible. However, it may be necessary to shift your work hours depending on employer or client demands. Even in these circumstances it is still important to keep standard working hours and shifts so that you can maintain your health and well-being.

Create a Dedicated Work Space

Having a dedicated work space is just as important as having a standardized work schedule. You need to work in a space or area of your home that provides you with the level of privacy, comfort, and peace and quiet that you need for optimal performance.

When setting up your space keep the requirements of your job and your personal preferences in mind. Do you deal with highly sensitive data? Will you need to make frequent phone or video calls? Do you have any needs that require specialized equipment? There are many factors that can impact the size and type of space that you may need to perform your work efficiently. Keep in mind that purchasing extra work-related equipment or resources may be tax deductible depending on your work situation.

Creating a dedicated office space may be as simple a setting up a desk and computer in a nook of your bedroom or dining area. Or, it could be as elaborate as converting a whole room into a home office. In fact, you may already have a dedicated computer room in your home that you use frequently for work-related and other purposes. Depending on your family situation, you may need to find a way to keep your spouse, children, or other household members out of the space when you do work assignments that require privacy, quietness, or solitude.

Get Dressed for Work

Yes, get up and get dressed as if you were going to your regular job. While working in your PJ’s may sound enticing, it can actually complicate your work situation. Sitting in front of a computer in your night or workout clothes can trick your brain into thinking that it’s time to mindlessly surf the internet. Instead, you want your brain to shift into work mode when you sit down at your computer desk. Putting on professional attire will easily kick your brain into work mode so that you can perform your job duties at optimal level.

Dressing professionally will also help you stay prepared for impromptu and scheduled virtual meetings. If you get dressed at the start of your day, you don’t have to scramble to find an outfit when your supervisor or a client wants to do a virtual face-to-face at the last minute.

Connect with Colleagues on a Regular Basis

Maintaining consistent verbal communication with your colleagues is also important during extended remote work situations. Not only do we need to maintain communication because we are hardwired to connect with other humans, we also need to keep a sense of normalcy. Scheduling time to chat with our peers is very important in maintaining our sanity through this situation. We need to find meaningful ways to consistently interact with our colleagues, customers, and/or clients as we venture into this brave, new workforce.

Don’t Overwork Yourself

Finally, my last bit of advise is to not overwork yourself. This goes along with maintaining a standardized work schedule. Try not to work on weekends unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. Pace yourself and do what you can. Most employers and clients are willing to extend deadlines and work with you in a variety of different ways to ensure that you have a safe, healthy, and efficient transition to your new remote work environment. While you may need to work a few hours more on certain days, this should not be the norm. Try to cancel or delay any non-essential tasks, meetings, or events. Learn to say “no” when you need to. And most importantly, take proper care of yourself and those around you as best as possible.

Need more coaching ideas? Contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Effective Cover Letter Writing for Expat Job Opportunities

Like resumes, writing cover letters for expats job posts is not completely different from cover letter writing for domestic positions. However, the process is not the exact same either. This is why you need to be mindful of what you include in your cover letter as it could be a critical factor in getting a job offer.

Discuss Your Relocation Strategy

The first element of the cover letter is the introduction. In this section job applicants typically introduce themselves to the employer outlining their qualifications, what position they are applying for, and how they heard about the position and/or the organization. This standard information should be included in expat cover letters as well.

Additionally, prospective expat employees should go a step further and discuss their relocation strategy. This section should include the where, why, and when you anticipate moving abroad. You should let the employer know what regions you are seeking employment in so that they have a general idea of the type of country you wish to live in. This may seem obvious because you are applying to work in that country, but it is not.

I, like many other expats, was very open to working in various regions of the world when I first started my expat journey. I was wet behind the ears and didn’t know the difference between living in Brazil or Saudi Arabia. I knew that they were on the opposite end of the globe and that one was a religious country. But, I truly didn’t understand the discrepancies in the immigration process or living conditions prior to my overseas journeys. All I knew is that I was ready to move abroad.

While I am now thoroughly educated about the differences in various expat locations, I am still quite open to calling many areas of the world home. I have met dozens of expats that share the same sentiment. Thus, as a previous expat hiring manager I am fully aware that every country is not the right fit for every expat. So I was highly appreciative when prospective expats outlined the regions of the world they were most interested in working in.

Even more, I was extremely grateful when they explained why they wanted to live in these locations. Some had familiar or cultural ties to the regions, some liked tropical weather or desert terrain, some had previously visited the locations, some were adventure seekers, and the list goes on. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to work abroad, you should spell them out in your cover letter in a positive and diplomatic manner.

It is also helpful to provide a general timeline of when you can or wish to move. This information is very important to expat employers, especially if you have a restricted schedule. Most employers expect that you will need or want to adhere to your current employer’s notification period. However, notification periods vary greatly and some may not be conducive to the employer’s needs. While this question may be presented in an interview process later on, it could save you and the employer a great deal of time if you spell this out in your cover letter.

Your relocation strategy is important in conveying to employers that you have truly thought carefully about moving abroad. It let’s them know that you didn’t just wake up that morning with an epiphany that you need to roam the world in order to find yourself. As I mentioned before in a previous post, international employers are looking to hire stable expats who will stay the course. Turnover is typically 3-5 times more expensive for employers who hire expats than those who hire local workers. So employers who frequently hire expats try to avoid flighty employees as much as possible.

Detail Your Experience

An expat cover letter is similar to any other cover letter in this regard. Cover letter writing is about expressing the depth of your knowledge, skills, and abilities in greater detail. It is not meant to be a summary of your resume. Instead, it is meant to be a platform where you can showcase your portfolio by explaining the what, when, where, who, and how of your experience.

For instance, if you are a teacher you can and should use your cover letter to detail innovative pedagogy that you have implemented and the respective outcomes. You should give a brief explanation of the pedagogy if it is not widely known or used in the country in which you are seeking employment. Express when and how you implemented the approach and a give a few details about the student demographics (grade, age range, sex, etc.). Finally detail the results of the techniques that you used. This will give more clarity about your skill sets and the unique skills that you can bring to the organization.

Convey Cultural Relevance

You should also try to convey how your experiences and credentials are culturally relevant to the region in which you are seeking employment. If the employer is seeking candidates to teach or otherwise incorporate components of the English language in their organization, you should expound on your ability to do just that.

If the organization is looking for someone who can easily adapt to knowledge and processes of the culture in the expat country, you should display how you can transfer your skills to be culturally viable in the country. The ultimate goal is to show that you understand that you may have to adapt to meet the demands of living in a different country.

Exercise Humility

By some cultural standards around the world, Americans are considered haughty in our job seeking approach (and in other regards). What we deem as “selling ourselves” is often interpreted as bragging in other parts of the world. We are taught to focus on how our strengths and accomplishments are an asset to the organization in the cover letter writing process. However, in some regions of the world it is better to not focus on yourself and instead focus on what you can do for the organization in a not-so-self-centered way.

You are in essence still relaying what you have to offer to the organization but with an emphasis on how the company can enhance and benefit from your skill set. It is important to focus on the company’s strengths and humbly indicate how you can be an asset to the organization. This is opposite of the American way of focusing on the candidate’s strengths in a way that indicates that the company should be grateful to have them as a prospective candidate for the position.

Let’s say that you are a flight attendant applying to work for an international airline that just won an award for being the best global brand in the industry for the past three years in a row. If the culture of the country tends to be more humble, it will behoove you to focus on the airline’s accomplishments rather than your own when drafting your cover letter. You may want to shape your cover letter to include something similar to the following language:

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to apply to work for an organization that has won best global airline brand for the past three consecutive years. This is a major feet in the airline industry and I am sure that your employees are proud to work for such a innovative and forward-thinking air carrier. I would likewise be grateful and very humbled if I could utilize the skills that I have learned working as an flight attendant over the past five years to contribute to the continuous growth and development of your airline.

In this example, the writer prioritizes the airline’s accomplishments and shows how the accolades can benefit prospective employees instead of the other way around. However, the writer also indicates her experience as a flight attendant without shining the spotlight on herself. Once she has established the proper rapport, she can continuously and humbly inject her knowledge, skills, and abilities in the cover letter.

It is important to be mindful of the culture in which you are interacting with to determine the level of humility you should use in the cover letter writing process. As with other aspects of expat job seeking, the culture of the land will play a big role in how you approach the overall process. As I have said time and time again, you must do your research to determine what is appropriate for the region which you are seeking expat employment.

Still need more ideas on how to craft your expat cover letter? Contact us so that we can help guide you in the right direction.

Effective Resume Writing for Expat Job Opportunities

Effective Resume Writing for Expat Jobs

Thinking about working abroad, but don’t know what to put on your resume or how to format it properly? Don’t worry because you are in good company. Most prospective first-time expat are in the dark when it comes to writing an effective resume or curriculum vitae that will get them noticed and ultimately get them an offer letter.

I felt the same way before my first expat experience. I remember scavenging the internet for tips, suggestions, and examples of expat resumes to get insight on how to write a job-getting CV. I learned a great deal from watching videos, reading blog posts, and even reaching out to some people in the expat community. Fortunately, my efforts paid off.

I have learned a lot since then, especially through having the opportunity to serve on hiring committees whose main goal was to recruit expat workers. So I decided to share a few tricks of trade for those who are interested in writing an effective resume to land an expat position.

Clarity and Breadth

The first thing I recommend is ensuring that your resume or CV is clear. The hiring organization or hiring manager should not have to guess what type of job did, where you worked, or how long you worked there. This should go without saying because this is a general rule for resume writing. However, it becomes even more important when you are trying to capture the attention of someone who may not have any experience or knowledge of how things work in your home country.

Don’t assume that just because you put that you were a teacher in your home country that the hiring manager understands what your job entailed. Yes, the basic foundation of teaching is generally applicable worldwide. However, there are many different teaching curricula and different types of teacher qualifications even within the same country. Therefore, it is best for you to spell this out clearly on your resume or CV.

For instance, all of your experience may be in the U.S. so you assume that the hiring manager knows that your experience is in American-style teaching curriculum. However, there are international schools in the U.S. and the names of the schools are not always indicative of the type of curricula that is taught in the school. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to note what type of curriculum you have experience with in order to advance your chances of being hiring.

Another important factor is breadth of information. You need to include additional information about where you worked or gained your education and credentials on your resume. It is very important to include the country information on your CV even if all of your education and experience is from the same country.

Everyone is not familiar with the cities and states in your home country – this includes the U.S. Thus, stating you worked in Omaha, Nebraska doesn’t tell a hiring manager from Victoria, Seychelles much about your international experience even if you list your nationality as American on your resume. Including country information gives the employer context in relation to your level of international experience.

The same guidelines apply to outlining your job duties. Potential expats usually need to add depth to this section as to give the employer a more comprehensive understanding of their knowledge, skills, and abilities. I typically suggest job candidates include about 3-5 bullet points under each job, especially if they work in a generalist role. However, I usually suggest that international job seekers include about 8-10 job duties and tasks that provide substantial context and detail.

Few hiring managers or committees are going to take the effort to interview you if the information you provide on your resume is not clear or detailed enough. It is not uncommon for hiring managers to receive hundreds of applications for one post seeking multiple candidates. So the resumes that are clear and have depth of information will usually get shortlisted first.

Demographic Details

International employers may also ask for more demographic details about prospective candidates than what is typical or legal to ask for in some countries. This is inclusive of a candidate’s age, date of birth, marital status, religion, etc. It is common practice to ask for this type of information in some expat countries.

Asking for such demographic data is not illegal in every country. Therefore, you need to be prepared to provide this information if you are vying to get an expat job offer in certain regions of the world. Failure to provide such details may disqualify you for the role. So think twice about neglecting to provide it on your resume or skipping these questions on a job application.

International Experience

Another important aspect of an expat resume is the inclusion of any international experience that may have been gained in the past. This is not necessarily exclusive to paid positions that you have held in other countries. It could be study or volunteer abroad activities that you performed in the past. Oftentimes evidence of immersive experiences abroad (excluding vacations) are a plus on expat resumes.

International employers who frequently hire expats like to see that prospective expats have substantive international exposure, though this is not a requirement for the average expat position. As I mentioned in my previous post, expat employers want to ensure that you are not going to bail as soon as you experience a little conflict or trivial difficulties. Someone with a proven track record of satisfying the components involved in working, studying, and/or volunteering abroad is usually an asset to an expat employer.

So if you have immersive international exposure, you should include it on your resume or CV. Doing so will most likely increase your chances of securing an expat position.

However, there is a caveat to this general guideline. Some international employers do not accept expat workers who have lived in or visited certain countries that are dealing with civil unrest or countries whose residents are banned from entering the nation. This caveat can be a bit tricky so you will definitely need to do your research before providing all work, study, and volunteer abroad experiences on your resume.

This can easily be done by conducting an internet search to determine the allies and enemies of your expat country of choice. If a nation that you have worked, studied, or volunteered in is on their enemy list I suggest leaving that experience off of your resume. The same applies to countries that are experiencing major civil unrest that could be a threat to the expat nation in which you to work in.

Not having immersive international experience doesn’t necessarily exclude you from being a viable expat candidate. So don’t feel that you are out of the game if you don’t have international exposure and are seeking expat employment. Though I will suggest that you try to gain international exposure by either studying or volunteering abroad. These are great ways to “get your feet wet”.

Not only will such opportunities possibly enhance your chances of securing expat employment opportunities, they will also give you a chance to test the waters. Such experiences give you the chance to see if living abroad is really for you before you embark on a more extensive journey that could involve uprooting your entire life.

Are you stuck trying to figure out what to include on your expat resume or CV? Contact us so that we can assist you in writing an effective, expat job-winning opportunity!

4 Resume Writing Tips for Job Seekers

Resume Writing Tips

As a hiring manager and career coach, I have seen countless resumes throughout my career. Many job seekers tend to make the same costly mistakes that often result in their resumes being overlooked or immediately eliminated. While beautifully formatted resumes with flowery, superfluous words may be great for some professionals such as authors, they are generally not appropriate for the average worker.

What most job candidates don’t realize is that resumes often go through a tedious filtering process that may involve three or more steps before they even get to the hiring manager. It is a very common practice for human resource software program algorithms to sift through resumes before they ever make it to a human. Once a resume passes this stage, it is usually scanned by a human resource professional before it is then passed to the hiring department.

Once it reaches the hiring manager, the resume is generally thoroughly reviewed before it is shortlisted or handed over to a hiring committee for further evaluation. This process easily reduces the hiring pool to three to five job candidates out of hundreds of applicants.

This is why it is extremely important for job seekers to put forth their best efforts to make an excellent first impression! Below, you will find four tips to help you do just that.

Use a Template

Standardized templates are a sure fire way to help you be certain to include all the basic elements needed on your resume. While templates present a uniform guide for formatting resumes, they can easily be customized to help your resume stand out. But, where they shine is in their ability to capture the most important data elements in a way that immediately catches the reader’s attention.

All resume templates include basic criteria such as contact details, education, employment history, specialized skills, etc. Many templates format each of these elements using bold headings and subheadings with enlarged font that clearly define the most important aspects of the resume. Some templates even present an artistic, yet classy flare that can help resumes stand out even more.

Rather than reinventing the wheel and risk leaving out vital information from your resume, it is best to start your resume by using a template. There are many different styles of resume templates available in Microsoft Office and G Suite Marketplace, just to name a couple.

Keep it Short

Hiring managers truly appreciate well-written, well-formatted, and concise resumes. The standard length for a resume is one-page. It may not seem like a lot of space, but if used correctly it can say a lot about you as a candidate in many ways. Not only does a one-page resume give you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge, skills, and abilities, it also gives you an opportunity to showcase your sensibility.

Keep in mind that hiring managers generally have many tasks to accomplish on any given day. Chances are hiring duties are at the bottom of our priority list. So we appreciate it when candidates can present a professional, well-rounded picture of themselves in the fewest amount of words. In which case, a well formatted, one-page resume usually does the trick.

There are definitely cases where longer resumes or curriculum vitae are in order such as for professors, researchers, executives, and other highly skilled and experienced professionals. In fact, it is an expectation that these professionals present longer (usually 3-4 pages) curriculum vitae. However, these professionals should still be sensible and respectful of the hiring manager’s time.

As a hiring manager, I have tossed many long-winded resumes of highly qualified applicants because I knew that they would not be sensible or level-headed employees. If they couldn’t start the process off by showing me that they value my time during the job search, what was I to expect if I hired them? I wasn’t willing to take the chance to find out.

Only Include Sections You Need

This advice coincides with keeping your resume short. Resume templates present a general outline for the average job seeker – not all elements included on the template are applicable to everyone. If you don’t have any relevant information to put in a specific section, simply delete the section and move to the next one. Don’t make up things or state that you have nothing to put in that section (which I have seen candidates do by the way).

Additionally, don’t include sections that are simply not needed on a resume. For instance, I once had a candidate list all the professional development conferences that she had attended over the past 10 years or so on her resume. This not only increased the length of her resume by about two pages, it presented extraneous information that took me more time to read.

Hiring managers do not need this type of information. Generally, a copy of a professional license or certification will serve this purpose. Attendance at a conference tells me nothing about your skills and abilities. However, a professional license or certification, formal education, and relevant experience speaks volumes about your ability to perform.

So stick to the most important elements when writing your resume. The employer is most interested in the knowledge, skills, and abilities that you possess that directly correlate to the position which they are hiring for.

Don’t Include Redundant Information

Redundant information likewise increases the length and decreases the overall quality of a resume. There is no need to indicate that you will provide references upon request on a resume. This is a redundant statement that wastes space and adds nothing of value to the resume.

Objective statements are another pet peeve for many hiring managers. Most objective statements simply reiterate that the candidate is looking for a job which they are applying for. We already know you want the job once you submit your application or resume in response to the job advert. These types of statements add no substance to the resume and take up space that could be used to showcase valuable skill-sets.

If you have made any of these resume writing mistakes don’t fret, you can still revive your resume by implementing these tips. Or, you can contact us and we can help you format and write a winning resume that will definitely get you shortlisted.