How to make a career transition while abroad

How to make a career transition while abroad

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U Diverse, established in the Netherlands in 2014 by Magali Toussaint, is a global career and executive coach for highly-skilled migrants and expats. Magali works with a network of highly qualified coaches and trainers who can also assist in making the right professional choices.

Transitioning between careers is always a challenging task. People transition into a new career for many reasons, such as relocating to a different country, returning to work after being a full-time parent, to feel a sense of fulfilment and more.

Career transition while living abroad is even more challenging, as you may have to support your family without any help. You may need to find an employer willing to sponsor you. However, if you do your research and plan the transition in a step-by-step manner, it can be done.

Career transition can be facilitated by the growth and development boosted by relocating to a different country. Meeting new people and learning new languages will push you outside of your comfort zone and will help you grow personally and professionally.

Follow this approach to transition into a different career as an expat successfully:

STAGE 1: Explore limitations

Changing careers as an expat can be complicated with obvious limitations. Make sure you acknowledge and accept your limitations. Most people find it challenging to adapt to a new culture, learn a new language, and develop a support network. You have to understand that though it is difficult to change jobs with all of these restrictions, you can turn them around for your benefit.

Firstly, learn the local language to help you make a great impression on your potential employer and also to help you build new connections. Secondly, be open to new cultures and customs, mix well with the locals. Lastly, try to develop a good support network. This will help you get job recommendations.

While you focus on these concrete steps towards your journey, you will face setbacks. Some tasks may appear more challenging than you expected them to be. Certain interviews or job meetings may not pan out. Do not let your inner saboteur distract you from the tasks at hand. Keep a positive outlook and trust in your abilities and skills.

STAGE 2: Find your strengths

An online strength assessment test is a great tool to get an idea of your strengths. Working with a strength and talent coach can also be very helpful. Another way to find what you want is by recognising your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats by doing a SWOT analysis:


  • Your educational and professional qualification
  • Special achievements
  • Your values and beliefs

Highlight these points in your resume and target a career based on these strengths.


  • Lack of skills or not knowing a language
  • Tasks that you avoid
  • Having a gap in your education or experience

Consider working on these weaknesses using your strengths and adjust to them. Avoid a career that won’t accept your shortcomings.


  • Can you relocate?
  • Skills you can improve on
  • Can you use the drawback of the market for your benefit?

You can use opportunities like this to get closer to your dream job.


  • State of economy
  • Skills which have become useless
  • Competing colleagues

Threats can make it challenging to achieve your goal. So always keep them in mind when assessing new opportunities.

STAGE 3: Career motivation

Career motivation is a combination of needs, interests, and personality characteristics. Evaluate what is important to you and what your work demands.

Need help changing careers? U Diverse can help you out!

Sort your needs into different categories, such as the working environment, behaviour of colleagues, location, and salary. Then define which one of your needs has the highest priority. This way, you can find work that will provide you with job satisfaction.

To identify the reason behind your desire for a career transition, you first need to analyse what you are presently tolerating and what is draining your energy. Take 10 minutes at the end of your day and list all the things that are bothering you.

Things that come up most frequently are the ones you want to eliminate. Define what will make you happy and what you can compromise on. All the things that make you happy will allow you to reach your full potential when it comes to your new career.

STAGE 4: Find your purpose

Finding your life's purpose can make career transitioning easier. Focus on the opportunities that will fulfil your life's purpose. You can do this by reflecting on your past experiences and then looking for similar opportunities. Try this to find your purpose:

  • Find out what makes you happy
  • Try working in different fields by volunteering
  • Read about everything
  • Take online assessment tests

STAGE 5: Explore career options

Career exploration comes after you’ve found your life's purpose. Research careers online. Talk to people in different careers to get an idea about the job. Based on this knowledge, you can make a list of various career options according to your strengths to broaden your professional perspective.

Now make two more sub-lists, one list containing jobs that you are interested in and another list containing jobs that pay well. Try to select a career that is present in both of the sub-lists. Once you have this, you can narrow down your research into this career.

STAGE 6: Career planning

Career planning is important for successfully switching careers. You should make a solid action plan for the long term. Your career plan must have:

  • Short term goals
  • Skills you want to learn
  • Your future goals: Where you want to be in a few years?
  • The next steps: What next if you achieve this goal?
  • The result of this plan

These points will allow you to be able to measure your success from time to time and help you stay focused.

STAGE 7: Decision-making

Making a decision is the last step in your career transition. Without making a tough decision, you will be stuck where you are. Focus on these points when making your decision:

  • Look for the skills or education required for your targeted job profile
  • Status of the market in that field
  • The salary range for the profession
  • Possible negative outcomes

Using this guide, you can begin the process of a smooth career transition!

Magali Toussaint's vast experience in coaching, recruitment, job search strategies, HR and diversity has been the motivation behind her business, U Diverse. She strives to help both expats and highly-skilled migrants adjust to new cultures and find a new exciting career abroad.

Contact her for more information via email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or phone +31655832442.

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Magali Toussaint


Magali Toussaint

I am the founder of U Diverse, a career and cross-cultural coaching service. I have international experience in coaching, recruitment and diversity. After years of adapting to unfit professional environments...

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Leave a comment

TarekBeram 13:48 | 27 June 2019

Great article from a great coach.