The Other Half of the Equation: Spouse/Partner Career Support During Global Assignments

Posted on April 7, 2016

The Other Half of the Equation: Spouse/Partner Career Support During Global Assignments

The Other Half of the Equation: Spouse/partner career support during global assignments

Guest blog from Ed Marshall, Practice Leader for Global Mobility, IMPACT Group

The investment in a global assignment, when done effectively, can be a win-win for the employee and the organization. The employee gains invaluable experience while learning a new culture and deepening his or her knowledge of the business, while the organization cultivates a well-rounded leader who can communicate across cultures and grasp the company’s big picture.

For all the good that comes to these two parties, one person has to make a big sacrifice – the spouse/partner. What happens to his or her career when a work visa can’t be obtained in an emerging global market? How will he or she relaunch a career once the couple returns to their home country?

Help Wanted – But Not From This Group

According to an industry Global Mobility Trends Survey*, 59% of spouses/partners were employed before the global assignment, yet only 11% worked during an assignment. Visa regulations, language barriers, local business practices, and cultural standards often stand in the way of securing employment abroad.

It’s no secret that spouse/partner career concerns continuously top the list of reasons relocations are refused or fail. This is especially true for global relocations, when the honeymoon phase fades quickly and the spouse/partner is left asking, “Now what?”.

The assignment – which typically lasts three years – could have a long-term effect on the spouse/partner’s career path. That’s three years of career growth he/she misses out on if unable to work in the host country. This possibility can negatively affect assignment acceptance rates.

Career Support for All Scenarios

The support of a one-on-one career coach can overcome these obstacles. At the start of the global relocation, the dedicated coach can provide the spouse/partner with career continuation support – from volunteer opportunities to courses and certifications – in the new country. There are things the spouse/partner can be proactive about when working isn’t an option. A coach who understands the nuances of the new country will best guide them to opportunities to maintain their skills and keep their CV/résumé active.

When the spouse/partner is able to work while on assignment, he/she doesn’t always have the knowledge and resources needed to be successful. A dedicated coach can provide the job seeker with customized company and community research, CV/résumé best practices, and essential information about launching a job campaign in an unfamiliar market. These coaching programs go a long way in keeping the individual’s career on track.

Security During Career Changes

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of organizations believe spouse/partner career concerns will become a bigger issue for attracting talent in the future, as noted in the Global Mobility Trends Survey. If measures are taken to support the spouse/partner’s career, the couple will have a sense of security. This will be key as they repatriate to their home country.

However, upon returning home, a spouse/partner’s job search needs can be very different. He/she may be unaware of changes in the job market in their home country or behind on job search technology advances. Plus, personal networks can have a tendency to fizzle out since you’re not around to put in the effort to maintain them. These factors make job search support after the relocation all the more necessary to ensure a spouse/partner’s career gets back on track.

Learn more about why Career is Key during global relocation. Sign up for our free webinar on Tuesday, April 12th to discover your first-choice candidate’s needs, the barriers that keep him/her from saying ‘yes’, and how spousal support can increase your candidate pool.




*Brookfield Global Relocation 2015 Global Mobility Trends Survey Report


IMPACT Group & Aperian Global Partner to Provide Relocation Support and Cross Cultural Training Services to Ensure Seamless Transition


Ed MarshallEd Marshall is a Practice Leader for Global Mobility at IMPACT Group, a woman-owned global leader in relocation support that partners with organizations to strategically recruit, relocate, and retain global talent. A member of Worldwide ERC®, Ed is a designated Senior Global Mobility Specialist-Talent (SGMS-T) and a Certified Relocation Professional (CRP). He is also a member of the Canada Employee Relocation Council (CERC) and European Relocation Association (EURA), and has presented at numerous relocation industry conferences.

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