3 Myths About Finding a Job Abroad As An Expat Partner

When I moved abroad with my husband, I was very worried. I did not have a job yet and no work permit. How would I get through the day? Would I ever find a job (in the Netherlands or elsewhere) with a gap in my resume?

I felt too young to fill my time with coffee mornings and too ambitious and too fond of my independence to be only “the wife of”. But how would I get my new life on track?

In this article I bust 3 myths about work and present 3  ways of thinking that will help you further.

3 Myths about finding a job abroad as an expat partner


Myth 1- Finding a job has the highest priority *


“And what are you going to do there?” That was the most frequently asked question when I moved abroad. I had no idea, but I knew that I wanted to continue to develop myself, preferably through work. So before leaving for China I already made contacts and soon I landed a job for a Dutch training company based in Vietnam as their China Representative. In retrospect, this job was not the best choice for me,
but hey, I wanted to work so badly that I grabbed this opportunity with both hands.

If I have learned anything about finding a job abroad, it is that who you know will make the difference, not whether your CV is written in a fancy font.

People are the decisive factor in whether you are going to have a good time abroad, whether you will make friends or find a job. Those people can also live in your home country and know people in the city where you are now. It is all about networking and building connections.

Mindset Shift: “Getting to know people has the highest priority.”

* I had the luxury that my husband earned enough so that I did not have to work immediately for financial reasons. I realize that this certainly does not apply to everyone. If you do need the money, make sure you have a financial buffer to be able to sustain yourself without a job for 6-12 months.


Myth 2. You cannot work without a work permit


Sounds logical doesn’t it? Coming from a legal background, I certainly thought so. However, the fact that you do not have a work permit upon arrival does not mean that you will never be able to obtain a work permit.

In fact, I have noticed that you do not always need a work permit to get a job abroad, but also that being allowed to work does not always guarantee that you will find a job.

Sometimes an employer can help you obtain a work permit. Sometimes you can obtain a work permit through a personal contact or a permit agency. Special rules apply to some jobs, such as to embassy jobs. You could set up your own company. Sometimes you can work online for a company back home and perhaps you find an offline job in the twilight zone between what is official and what is possible.

Think in terms of opportunities, let yourself be guided by your interests and your passions, and who knows what will come your way.


Mindset Shift: “I am going to see what is possible with an open mind”


-> See also my blog post 50 Ideas to Create a New Career Abroad for inspiration for a new job abroad.

expat energy work permit

Myth 3. Your husband’s company must help you find a job


Fortunately I am blessed with a husband who did not want to create false expectations before our departure. He made it very clear that I could not expect any help from the multinational company he works for. No help finding a job or arranging a work
permit (there was a training budget for partners, thankfully).

And he was right about that.

You should not even have too many expectations of your husband (or wife) for your job search. He/She will be
busy enough to master his/her own new job and the challenges of the new country.

It is better to let go of your expectations for help from your partner’s employer and from your partner.

Mindset Shift: “I take responsibility for building my own life abroad.”



–> How about you? What did you learn about (not) working abroad?


Note: This article is an adjusted version of a Dutch article about 7 myths that I wrote for Globalicious Magazine. The other Myths will follow in a few weeks.


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