Expatriates don’t always spend the rest of their lives abroad. Though many seek refuge from the daily grind of the American work life, some eventually return.

What are the professional prospects of a returning expat in the United States? Below, we will examine how the skills, cultural awareness, networking, and travel experience gained abroad can improve your career game when you return home.

Skills Learned Abroad

Did you know? International travel is a great way to beef up the skills section of your resume. New experiences via travel can enhance skills like adaptability, problem-solving, planning, communication, time management, cultural competence, and mastery of a foreign language.

But how do you bring those skills to life and leverage them for professional success? Don’t let them sit listlessly on a skills list. Bring them to life in your cover letter or describe your work experiences. Show how you used your skills and their results.

What if you didn’t work while abroad? That’s okay, too. Skills are not always gained on the job. You can focus on how specific skills will aid you in performing the job requirements you are applying for.

Additionally, many countries have work cultures that facilitate a slower pace and a healthy work/life balance. You may beat burnout by applying these principles when you get back home.

Focus on Diverse or Globalized Companies

Adapting to a new culture and environment—perhaps with a diet and language different from your own—is not easy. Spending time abroad provides insights into other cultures in a way that reading about them or visiting for a short time cannot.

This experience is valuable to many businesses, specifically those with a diverse workforce or clientele or interacting with customers and other businesses globally.

It may be that your insights are needed to help a company’s upper-level management close a deal with a business in another country. If you understand the language and customs, you can help the company treat their counterpart with dignity and respect.

Or your insights prove valuable in fostering good communication between a business and the expats who work for it. Someone who understands both cultures can communicate needs and avoid misunderstandings.

New Ways to Expand Your Professional Network

While abroad, expats always seem to find each other. Whether it’s a shared language, comfort food, or supporting a beloved sports team, expats often gather, shop, eat, and relax at the same places.

The expats you got to know during your time abroad are now a part of your professional network. Don’t forget to connect with them on LinkedIn or other social networks. This will expose you to second and third-degree contacts – your expat friend’s professional network. This will increase the number of trusted contacts you maintain at home and abroad.

But when you return home, your experience as an expat will inevitably connect you with other ex-expats. Many returning travelers experience “reverse culture shock,” especially if they have been away for several years. This shared experience may draw you to fellow former expats who can also join your professional network.

Even something as simple as shopping at an international specialty market, speaking a foreign language to local immigrants, or wearing a t-shirt from a place you visited can spark conversations with other returning expats.

Finally, your known travel experiences invite others to connect with you out of curiosity or a desire to learn more about a destination. They don’t have to be expats themselves to enrich your professional network.

Consider Travel-Centric Vocations

Many people are intimidated by the thought of traveling abroad, but they would like to experience it. You’ve already done it – you could share your insider knowledge by becoming a travel agent or taking on some other role in travel or emigration advice.

How do you navigate customs or a complicated mass transit system abroad? Where can you find the best deals on flights or accommodations? What does it take to stay safe in a place where the laws are different than at home? How do you apply for the correct visas? You’ve answered all of these questions for yourself during your travels. And people are likely to ask you for travel advice regardless. You might as well monetize your knowledge by working in the travel industry!

Key Takeaways
Travel is transformative, and returning home after living abroad will profoundly impact your career. This can include the following aspects:
  • Having developed or enriched your soft skills, including problem-solving and cultural awareness.
  • Experience with other cultures makes you a prime candidate for global or diverse organizations.
  • Expanding your professional network to those with similar experiences and those who desire them.
  • Being able to use your experience to help others travel or relocate abroad.

Your expat experiences are unique and valuable. Using these tips, leverage them to bolster your career today.