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10 Things Expats Should Know Before Returning Home

10 Things Expats Should Know Before Returning Home

The idea of relocating abroad is nothing new, although this is something that is becoming increasingly popular among British citizens in the modern age. An estimated 323,000 citizens emigrated during 2015, which represented the highest number on record since the height of the great recession in 2008.

10 Things that Expats need to know before returning home

An estimated 43% of these emigrants were British, many of whom had reached retirement age and wished to see out their idle years in the warmer climes of Spain and Portugal. Some emigrants are younger and may relocate for work or other reasons, however, and this demographic is more likely to return to the UK at some point in the future. As expats they will need to be prepared for a period of transition when returning to their country of birth, while also keeping the following points in mind: –

1. Returning Expats must manage their return in increments

One of the main issues with returning home is reintegrating into local customs, as this can often be as overwhelming as moving abroad in the first place. You should therefore consider your return home as another form of international relocation, as you look to manage your move in increments and gradually rediscover your sense of home.

According to Singapore based medical professional Gwen Sawchuk, the best method is to buy a property back home while still living abroad, planning regular visits and holiday’s to build familiarity and relationships within the local community.

2. Returning expats may face jealousy from friends and loved ones

When you return home, you are likely to have a myriad of tales to share with friends and loved ones. These individuals may be a little jealous of your adventures, however, especially if their lives have remained largely unchanged or uninspiring during this time. By overwhelming them with information about where you have been and the things that you have experienced, you may alienate loved ones or build feelings of resentment.

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Instead, find natural conversational openings to share your stories, doling out information slowly and respecting the feelings of those around you.

3. Returning Expats will need to manage their expectations

Occasionally, expats may return home for reasons outside of their control or due to an unexpected career development. This is the situation that faced young soccer starlet Jack Harper, after the Scottish youth player fulfilled a boyhood dream by joining Real Madrid and moving to Spain at the age of 13. Having decided that this career path was not bearing fruit, he returned to the UK and currently plies his trade in the south of England with Brighton.

The proactive nature of this decision and willingness to embrace even unwanted career developments is a lesson to all expats, who must manage their expectations when returning home. Not only will their surroundings change dramatically, but their career and work-life balance may also suffer for a transitional period of time.

4. Returning expats may need to adjust in a Transient Community

With cultural and career shifts in mind, there will be a pronounced period of adjustment when returning home as an expat. This may influence the type of region and neighborhood that you look to move into, and attempting to return to your previous home or move into a close-knit community that is resistant to new-comes may prove challenging.

Instead, consider relocating to an area that has a more transient population, where there is a higher turnover of newcomers and a more open sense of community. This will ease your transition and help you to adjust quickly to your new surroundings.

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5. Returning Expats should prepare for the fact that old friends may have moved

When planning your return, it may be of some comfort to note that you are returning to the bosom of friends, family and loved ones. Even if you do choose to relocate to your home town and previous abode, however, you will need to prepare for the fact that things may have changed considerably in your absence. Some friends may have relocated themselves, while others may have changed in terms of their personal and outlook.

This means that while some relationships cannot be restored others will need to be rebuilt, so keep this in mind when returning. As engineer and expat Don Merritt has confirmed, we must strive hard to ignore the notions that everything will stay the same back home in our absence.

6. Returning Expats must prepare for cultural and political Transitions

When we first relocate abroad, there is an innate sense of excitement and wonder. This means that we treat even irritating or uncomfortable experiences as cultural anomalies, which in turn helps us to learn and maintain a sense of balance. Such an outlook is reversed when we return home, however, as we no longer have the illusion of cultural or political differences. This means that we must prepare for cultural and political transitions, while also adjusting our outlook in order to remain positive.

Serial-expat Elliott Chen believes that this issue is even more pronounced when returning to the East from the West, thanks primarily to the huge cultural differences that exist and the stifling regulations that are placed on personal liberties in the west.

7. Returning Expats may struggle with slang and everyday communication

It may seem strange to think of communication as an issue for expats, especially as they are returning home and to the land of their native tongue. Despite this, senior content manager Matt Schiavenza struggled to understand the common slang words and phrases that entered the lexicon while he was away and found everyday conversations a struggle.

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In this respect, maintaining regular content with folks back home prior to your move may help you to familiarize yourself with new and popular slang words. You may also want to check out the Urban Dictionary online, as this will help you to identify that latest phrases to have entered the mainstream.

8. Returning Expats should have their career plans in place before moving

We have already touched on the importance of treating your return home like the process of international relocation, so it is crucial that you have the next stage of your career development mapped out before you make your move. If you fail to do this, you may find it difficult to source work or realign your business venture while also adjusting to a new environment. This is even more important if you own your own business, as you and you alone are responsible for making such a commercial transition work.

According to the-travel-franchise.com, the UK’s franchise industry alone has seen 20% over the last five years. This is creating a higher number of entrepreneurs and encouraging more people to move regularly between countries, but we must never lose sight of the importance of proactive planning and making preparations ahead of time.

9. Returning Expats should be prepared for a new kind of home sickness

Home is a malleable and fluid concept, and one that changes as we progress through life. It essentially refers to a place where we seek refuge from the pressures of work, raise our families and share intimate moments with the ones that we love. So while we miss our place of birth and homeland when we first relocate abroad, we our outlook changes as we live overseas and make a brand new home in our new surroundings.

This means that when we return as expats, we tend to develop a new kind of home-sickness where we miss the place and country that we have just left. This may manifest itself in several ways, as you seek out new friends of a specific nationality and try to integrate associated customs where possible. According to content manager Schiavenza, the best remedy is to break this spell and plan a holiday to your second home prior to your return.

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10. Returning Expats should be proactive when attending to financial matters

Returning to your homeland is an emotionally challenging experience, but it is also one that requires numerous practical steps. You may have been classed as a non-resident for taxation purposes during your absence, for example, so it is crucial that you re-register with the relevant bodies when repatriating.

This type of attention to detail is crucial, especially when it comes to financial matters. It is also important to calculate any changes that may have altered the cost of living in your home nation, along with increases in property, fuel and vehicle prices. This will help you to budget and make viable plans that make your return more manageable.

Featured photo credit: Outpost Magazine via outpostmagazine.com

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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

17 Versatile Work Skills That Will Gain You More Career Opportunities

17 Versatile Work Skills That Will Gain You More Career Opportunities

When we look at a job advertisement, it can seem as though employers want an exhaustive list of experience and technical skills from their new hire.

They list desirable qualities such as ‘initiative’, ‘team player’ and ‘strong work ethic’. Those words can mean a variety of things to different people and it can be quite hard for employers to illustrate fully the combination of technical and soft skills they want their potential employees to have.

What they often want is a mix of versatile skills that make it easy for them (and you) to adapt to the changing needs and demands which occur in businesses today.

After all, adaptability and innovation are what make businesses thrive.

In today’s ever-changing environment, versatility is a mandatory attitude every working person needs to have. With the following seventeen work skills, you will not only make your employer extremely happy and confident that hiring you was their best decision, you will experience greater personal satisfaction and results.

1. Know What You Want but More so Why You Want It

Employers need to sense you have a solid idea as to why you are a fit for their role and their organization. They need to sense you have your own sense of purpose.

However, it can be a double-edged sword to say you know exactly what you want to achieve and gain if you are successful in your application and interview.

Some employers can perceive this as arrogance; your needs first, theirs second. What employers are really looking for is your internal sense of knowing that potential to join their organization is a winning combination for both of you.

2. Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution Skills Save Money, Lost Productivity and Efficiency

Can you agree to disagree? Can you evaluate without passing judgment or at least be self-aware of your own biases? Can you put these aside to find solutions for the betterment of the team?

Employers look for versatility in soft work skills that bring peace, lower stress and contribute to creating harmony. If you have ways with words to help heated arguments reduce to a simmer so there is space for compromises, negotiations and reasoning to take place your employers’ respect for you will jump at least tenfold.

Peace-making skills are invaluable in changing workplace culture, particularly toxic ones. Any good employer knows a strong in-house negotiator will save them thousands of dollars in engaging an external mediator.

3. Know How to Set and Reframe Your Own Goals

Much research has documented that when employees have a clear purpose, mission and goals, they are more likely to be highly productive. They are less likely to flounder around in many directions nor be busy and not produce results that matter.

Employers know well that employees who develop their own goals and can align these with those of the company are more self-driven, self-sufficient and take greater ownership for performing their role.

And the benefit is not only to the employers. You personally will find greater personal satisfaction from achieving targets you have chosen to set yourself. Everyone wins!

4. Great Time Management and Organization Skills Make You Highly Productive

Being able to exercise versatility with these work skills needs no explanation. Great time management does not mean multi-tasking. It actually uses more brain power and reduces effectiveness.

Having great skills to prioritize your activities and demands, being able to assess how long things might take you to address are planning skills which greatly aid effective and better execution.

Working in harmony with your colleagues’ timetables makes for better teamwork and workflow plus a less stressed environment.

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In today’s working world, any strategies for reducing stress-invoking opportunities are like finding golden nuggets. Your employer will want to hold on to those for dear life!

5. Be a Flexible Team Player by Being Able to Change Roles When Required

Employers will be looking to see how flexible a team player, a potential employee could be.

If you are a natural leader, being a better team player might, in fact, mean you stepping down from the helm and encouraging someone else to exercise and step into their leadership potential.

It might be more beneficial to your employer to play the role of Indian as opposed to the Chief in certain situations. Stepping into different positions on your team not only helps you grow but also the rest of your team.

Employers relish having a versatile work team which can adapt and is ready and willing to play different roles, even if uncomfortable when crises happen.

6. Initiative, Self-Motivated and Driven

When you have your own internal reasons for looking to undertake a role your motivation is driven by something sizzling inside of you.

There is a personal drive and desire for the satisfaction you will experience when you meet a certain target that no other person will be able to give to you.

When you can genuinely identify and demonstrate your own personal connection to the role’s objectives and the greater goals of your employer’s business, they will see you have an internal drive that they don’t need to whip and flog to keep the momentum going.

Any employer will be grateful they just need to help navigate you and support you with the right tools and network and off you go.

7. Be Confident but Not Arrogant

Imagine if you were conducting initial telephone interviews with shortlisted candidates and one of the questions they asked was:

“How long would it be until I’ll be eligible for a pay rise or promotion?”

There is a significant difference between being confident and arrogant. Employers are not looking for confidence purely in you being able to perform every aspect of your role at gold star level.

It comes with being comfortable to say you don’t understand, you have made a mistake, you need support, further training, acknowledging what your limits are and being willing to risk stepping outside your comfort zone.

When you’re a new kid on the block, respecting that you may need to learn to walk before you can run is essential. Unless it is your job to start making significant changes from day one, chances are you’re going to create enemies if you’re so confident your new methods and ideas should replace existing processes.

8. A Positive Attitude

Demonstrating positivity as a work skill that will truly win over your new employer is about being genuine and actively applying strategies which look for the glass half full.

Recruiters and employers are not dumb. They can easily see through short-term bright smiles, nervous giggling and general ‘you just need to think positive’ statements.

In the face of grueling challenges, employers are going to look much more favorably on that candidate who can acknowledge the negative features of a situation but still encourage another solution-focused perspective to be adopted.

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Even better, if you can use language effectively to demonstrate how you have adopted a positive perspective and helped turned around a tough situation.

It is one thing to have a positive attitude but your potential employer will see you as a superhero if you can show them how you have successfully applied it.

Take a look at these tips to learn more about staying positive:

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9. You Are Resourceful but Know the Value of Asking for Help

There is nothing more unproductive (let alone frustrating) than that person who simply asks out loud a question to their team when they could simply have Googled the answer.

Or worse still, they have a manual at their fingertips which has the answer to their question…they were simply too lazy to look for themselves.

Be that person with Sherlock Holmes as their middle name who sleuths like a dog after a buried bone. You can research and turn over stones to discover and learn what you need but you also are able to ask for help and assistance when you need to.

Any employer will relish that person who looks to discover the answers to their own questions first before reaching out and asking for help.

Hesitate to ask for help? This article may just change your mind:

Afraid to Ask for Help? Change Your Outlook to Aim High!

10. Emotional Intelligence Creates a Harmonious Workflow

Despite the level of seniority of your role having a strong ability to handle emotions is fast becoming an essential work skill (and also life skill).

It is even more desirable for any employer when your work skill set includes the ability to detect, adapt to and have skills in managing certain emotional patterns of others you need to work with, manage or report to.

So much time, energy and productivity is lost due to individuals’ lack of skills in this area. Any manager who can see you possess and can demonstrate such versatile work skills will think they’ve won the managerial lottery!

You can learn how to improve your Emotional Intelligence from this article:

7 Practical Ways To Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

11. Be Able to Adapt Your Learning Style

There is no real evidence that using preferred learning styles actually increase the rate at which we learn nor the effectiveness of certain styles.

However, being able to make changes to what we are given to learn and adapting it to suit our needs and preferences does help us settle into a new work transition sooner.

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We also need to recognize that even though we feel uncomfortable learning a new skill a certain way, it might actually be the way we need to receive it to cement the learning. It is also likely that our new employer only knows or has a budget to deliver training in a certain way.

Either we can choose to adapt or resist but we know for sure the latter is not going to benefit to anyone.

Want to find out what your learning style is? Take this quiz:

How This Learning Style Quiz Can Help You Make the Most of Your Life

12. Flexible Leadership Style

Dan Goleman has conducted extensive research on different leadership styles, emphasizing that being versatile to switch between different styles (e.g. authoritative, coaching, affiliate, coercive, pace-setting) and knowing when to do is a fundamental skill for any leader.

Being able to change your style to lead other people is as important as how you lead your own role responsibilities.

If you want to be a better leader, these books are great resources:

15 Best Leadership Books Every Leader Must Read To Achieve Success

13. Incredible Communication Skills That Actively Listen and Give Clear Messages

Strong and effective communication across all mediums takes time, life experience and highly developed intuition.

Knowing when to use email, a face to face conversation or telephone discussion is one thing. Another is to use words which emotionally connect and influence the receiver to accept, hear and heed your message.

Great communicators know that it is their responsibility as much as the receiver for good communication to take place. However, they also know that the receiver may not feel this is the case.

When you can listen equally, be sensitive to read between the lines to hear the message of ineffective communicators and can respond kindly with inspiring, equalizing and encouraging words, your influence and general likeability as a new addition to your employer’s team will develop in leaps and bounds.

These books are also nice resources to learn effective communication:

13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships

14. Accountable, Responsible and Dependable

We’ve all worked with people or managers at some point who lay external blame the instance something goes wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, making mistakes and owning up to it is a highly desirable and versatile work skill that gains loyalty and understanding particularly when mistakes occur.

Owning up to errors early allows both yourself and the business to recover quickly and shows you’re willing to take responsibility to continue forward on when you have stumbled.

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When you illustrate you can do this, you build your employer’s trust and faith in you.

15. Exercise Proactive Self-Awareness

Self-reflection is a highly empowering work skill that contributes greatly to becoming better and performing better.

When you actively look for the achievement, celebrate your success and look for pockets of where mistakes you have made can be corrected you improve faster, become more effective and make your work easier.

When you start to look at your own errors, receiving feedback from your employer about the same errors can feel far less confronting and having corrective conversations is easier, transparent and far less stressful and emotional.

You naturally increase your resilience and make life easier for yourself and your employer if you conduct regular self-check-ins and keep your employer updated.

Here’s how to practice self-awareness:

How to Increase Your Self Awareness to Be Much More Successful

16. Apply a Problem-Solving Growth Mindset

When faced with a problem or challenge, your ability to activate a growth mindset is a highly versatile work skill employers love. Not only are you able to reduce the pain and anguish that a fixed mindset can sustain but your ability to remain open to possibilities to find different pathways or ideas is refreshing and helpful.

If your thought patterns automatically ask: “How can we?” or you often think “there must be a way”, you will only contribute to creating growth opportunities for your organization and inspire others to think the same way.

Learn more about developing a growth mindset here:

5 Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Self Improvement

17. Be Teachable

If you have ever tried to teach someone a new skill or technique and they keep reverting back to traditional ways that are familiar to them, you might have become frustrated to the point of giving up.

Don’t be that person who’s stuck in tradition which no longer serves the business. Whether you are entering a new environment, learning new software or negotiation skills, know that all employers need people who are open to being taught.

Innovation is a core concern of every business. Innovation means change and change means doing something different.

Stay Versatile and Keep Learning

Technical skills can often be taught. Ray Croc illustrated how well a systemized franchise can dominate the planet. Over 36,000 McDonald’s establishments around the world are run by managers barely in their twenties!

Soft work skills, however, take time to develop, learn and confidently apply.

There is a key combination of work skills that would make any candidate employer’s dream. However, the essential factor underlying all of these work skills is versatility.

Equip yourself with these 17 work skills, stay curious and keep learning; and you’ll always nail the job you want.

More Resources About Career Success

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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