Home » The Biggest Expat Career Mistakes

The Biggest Expat Career Mistakes

Career change is scary, let alone in a foreign country. There are various challenges, setbacks, unexpected surprises and bumps along the way… and you cannot control most of them. But there are some things that are under your direct responsibility, yet I see so many expats around me make the same mistakes over and over again.

I’ve gathered the 4 most annoying and self-sabotaging mistakes that we make on our quest for a successful career abroad, and how you can (easily) fix them:1. Not Knowing Where You Want to Go

You’ve had it with your job; and here’s where the first mistake crops up to trip you. You want something different, but do you know exactly what you want? Most women break from their jobs to find nowhere to go, or worse yet, they make a bad choice in choosing their next career.

Maybe you’re a nurse and have decided nursing doesn’t do it for you anymore; then being a home-care assistant would be the right solution for you, right? Well… maybe. The reasons you wanted change to begin with could also have you longing for Fridays with the new one.


Rather than letting your mind Punk you, get your career change right the first time by doing some solid outlining. Jot down what you truly enjoy about your work. Even if you’re looking to change your career, there are still some things that drew you to your former position originally and certain things about you that complement it.

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Do you like helping others? Do you like the structure? Great. Now what else do you want from a job? Would you prefer a flexible schedule? How about more time at home? Perfect. Now you can narrow down what jobs would suit these needs without falling into the same inflexible, at-work-too-much hole that drove you away in the first place.

2. Not Breaking Out Of Your Comfort Zone

It may be tempting to continue doing what you always did, both in terms of your career path but also in terms of the actions you took to find it. There is a reason why we feel nice and warm doing the same things over and over, and get really scared when trying something outrageously different and out of the box. Hey, they don’t call it the comfort zone for nothing! I know I’d rather stay wrapped up in my blankets watching reruns of Sex and the City (yes, cheesy choice!), but taking your first tentative steps outside of your comfort zone is what will drive you towards success.


Here’s the exciting news: the Comfort Zone is like a muscle. You can work out, follow a regime, and – BOOM – it gets bigger, allowing you to try and dare more things. If you don’t take action and push yourself out there, your Comfort Zone is going to stay a miniscule dot, when in reality it has the potential of a giant ocean.

I don’t necessarily mean marching up to a company and demanding a job; you’re allowed to take steps that are comfortable to you until you’ve inched your way out of your normal routine. Open your mind, seek new opportunities, research the web, schedule information interviews and just try approaching your career conundrum from a new perspective – what would you really like to do, if time and money were a non-issue?!

3. Not Having a Roadmap

Mistake number three. Let’s say you jump clear over mistake number one and set your sights on a job that was practically built for you. Great!

…Now what?

Where do you even begin? If you want to run your shop in private consulting (hey, why wouldn’t you?), and you have the skills, that’s fantastic, but no one is going to let you take the position without a business degree, professional certification, previous experience and a strong network. For that matter, getting the position at your dream company will be impossible if they don’t know who you are.


Now it’s time to lay the groundwork and chart out your course. Pull out the pen and paper again, and start reverse-engineering your career change. You want to be your own boss in the field of consulting, right? How do you get there?

Perhaps the first thing is to get in contact with the higher-ups of this. How do you get in contact with them? Through LinkedIn. Do you have a profile? Build one. Will they pay attention to you? No, so build a popular following and more connections before contacting them. Do you have the qualifications they’re looking for? No, so back to school. Do you have the experience they need? No, so look for a smaller position as a manager in a similar field. Or, work pro-bono, go to networking events, or start a blog. By having this roadmap in place, you can follow each individual step to take you to your goal – and it’s encouraging to look at along the way!

4. Not Reaching Out to Others

You might have guessed from the last solution that I’m in favor of networking – and trust me, you have to be. If you have your roadmap and your completely outlined dream job, you could run into mistake number three like a truck into a brick wall.

If you’re introverted like me, or just extremely busy, it’s easy to isolate yourself and forget to reach out to others. This leaves all your efforts high and dry, because no matter how experienced you are, how can you get that ideal position if no one knows you, recommends you, or introduces you to a new opportunity?

Better yet, reaching out to others may mean sometimes asking for help working out your goals and roadmap from mistakes #1 and #2 above. Meeting new people, talking through your dilemmas or even seeking professional help are all important elements of your success.


It can be hard to break from the mold, but take a deep breath (and get some comfort food) and get to work. By taking a few minutes every day to engage on social media with people in your desired field, or just inspirational people in general, you can make connections that will springboard you to greater opportunities.

[t]Takeaway: Career Change is as Easy as You Make It.[/t]

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