Potential expats be warned: Australians who live and work overseas are struggling to find jobs when they come home and will probably have to accept a demotion and pay cut to do so, according to new research.
In fact, 85 per cent of returned expats reported having trouble finding work, while 83 per cent of local recruiters said they were cautious about recommending expats.
The findings are contained in a new report, They Still Call Australia Home, prepared by one of the world’s biggest job sites, Indeed, and Advance, an Australian organisation that helps Aussies move and work overseas.
John Cheong-Holdaway knows the struggle all too well.
After spending years as a senior policy advisor in the energy sector for the Indonesian government, he looked to return home as his daughter neared school age.
“When I was looking for my first job here … the jobs I was being offered were so much less senior than I’d been working on,” he told the ABC.
The phrase recruiters often told me was ‘a very unique CV’.
“I needed to moderate my salary expectations to find a good job.
“I think a lot of people expect moving overseas to be difficult. They’re told about culture shock. I think people don’t expect the return home to be as difficult as it is.”
The report surveyed 700 respondents and found the odds stacked against returning expats. Among the key findings were:
- 85 per cent of returned expats experienced barriers to finding work back in Australia
- 67 per cent have considered heading back overseas again to get the right role
- 70 per cent said their self-esteem was impacted by the difficulties associated with returning
- 83 per cent of recruiters said they were cautious about recommending expats who recently returned home for Australian-based roles
- 45 per cent think returned expats expect a higher salary
- 31 per cent prioritise a candidate with Australian-only work experience
It’s all about networks
Mr Cheong-Holdaway said a key hurdle was he didn’t have the local connections his competition did.
It was something he worked hard to rectify, laying the groundwork on return visits long before he made the permanent move home.
“Have as many coffees as you can, and really lean on those networks of other returned expatriates,” he said.
So really expect it to be difficult and lean on those networks.
Advance chairperson Yasmin Allen echoed the sentiment and added that Australians who thought overseas experience was always a bonus to their CV should think again.
“What’s really important is to keep our networks alive when we’re off-shore,” she said.
“[Because] when expats with great global skills come home to Australia … these skills aren’t valued.
“We’re looking overseas often for new technologies, new thinking, new ways of doing things. And yet when we’ve got Australians who have that experience, why aren’t they valued?”
Indeed’s senior vice-president of marketing, Paul D’Arcy, said recruiters who shunned returnees were missing out.
“It’s clear Australia has pull-factors that attract its diaspora back to the country and, as the report identifies, these skilled workers present a significant opportunity for recruiters and businesses,” he said.
“We know diverse workforces are more successful than homogeneous ones, which is why employers and recruiters are missing out on an untapped pool of returning workers.”