Getting into a career in another country can be difficult at the best of times. Sometimes, all that is needed is some guidance and counseling. We were able to speak with Sacha Tanis-Hopkins, founder and career coach for Expart. Expart specialise in career coaching for expats, with the focus highlighted on helping expats find the career opportunities that best suit them. I asked Sacha a series of questions, with the aim to learn more about how expats can be helped and what what her clients look for with the Expart service.
Your company mainly focuses towards expatriates. Have you seen any changes to the demand for your service over the last year, and do you expect anything to happen which will change this in 2016?
“I did experience a change in my business. At first, I mainly had requests from expat partners, because this was my main focus group in the past. This group moves abroad because of their partners job. During the last year I got more expatriate clients, people already living in The Netherlands and looking for a new position or a career change. Besides this group, I also get more requests from clients still living outside The Netherlands and wanting to move here. During 2016, I expect this demand to grow due to economic reasons. I have to say, it can be a bit difficult to help this group. Although I can work with them through Skype, most agencies and companies want to meet them in person, and just coming for one or two weeks is often not enough.”
Are there any common traits shared by expats who use your services?
“Like mentioned before, all my clients are expatriates or partners from expatriates. Besides this, I find that most of my clients are looking for a career change and need help to figure out what they want and what could be their opportunities in the Dutch job market.”
What do you think a career coach means to an international in their search for employment?
“I think for an international it can be very helpful to use a career coach who knows the ins and outs of the national job market. A career coach can help them with their job search, but can also help them look for (other) opportunities.”
What have you taken from your past experiences to help international job seekers find their career path?
“Having been an expat partner my self, I have experienced how difficult it can be to find a job in a host country. Especially if you don’t speak the language and do not have a local network yet. I learnt to look for opportunities and think about career changes. Having lived more than fifteen years outside my home country I also understand what other obstacles might be encountered when working and living outside your home country.”
I imagine there are many differences between employment in a clients home country and in the Netherlands. Are these differences difficult to work around? What do you need to keep in mind to make the transition as easy as possible?
“I think one of the main difficulties are cultural differences. Depending on your cultural background and your intercultural competencies, these can be difficult to work around. It really depends on your own background and personality. For instance, being open minded, flexible, an active listener will help to adapt. To make a transition smoother, it does help to prepare and learn about the Dutch culture. I also offer Intercultural training for my clients and work for Intercultural training companies.
Trying to learn the language will also help. Although you might not be able to speak Dutch on a professional level during your first year(s) it will help you to intergrate in to the Dutch society.”
What instruments do you find most helpful for expats looking for a change in their careers, and how/why are they successful?
“Besides the different instruments a career coach can use, I find that being MBTI certified is the very valuable. The MBTI ( Myers Briggs Type Indicator ) is a personal assessment instrument which can help people understand their driving motivators and personality. Like I mentioned before, I also give Intercultural training and work with intercultural competencies assessments. These assessments give a greater insight to a persons intercultural competencies, what their strengths are, and which competencies they might need to develop when working and living in another culture.”
What sort of general advice can you give expats who come to The Netherlands looking for employment?
“First of all, do some research before you come to the Netherlands. The Dutch job market is still slow and it really depends also on your profession and background if you will be able to find a job. If you are already in The Netherlands, you need to know that most jobs are found through networking. Make sure you have an updated LinkedIn profile and get connected with your interest groups. A lot of searches are done through LinkedIn or people will at least check you profile. Besides social networking, you also have to make sure you get out there and meet people, both International and Dutch. Try to go to network meetings, social meetings, and job fairs like the ones Together Abroad organises twice a year. As well as this, becoming a member of a sports club or doing some voluntary work will help you to build a network.”
If you are an expat looking to broaden your horizons and find the career for you in The Netherlands, you can find their website here at: http://www.expart.nl/ Alternatively, you can contact Sacha directly at: email@example.com
By: Alexander Morrison