Key findings from the report:
- Australians who believe that working overseas will be to their advantage when returning might struggle to gain work back in Australia.
- 34% of returned expats aren’t even landing an interview for a potential role where their skills precisely match the job requirements.
- 32% of returned expats and rebound expats regret having come back to Australia.
- 33% of recruiters think that returned expats misjudge their earning power in Australia.
- 32% of recruitment decision-makers are reluctant or cautious to hire a returned expat for an Australian-based role on the basis of perceived cultural difficulties.
- 31% of recruiters prioritise candidates with Australian-only work experience, favouring their knowledge of recent Australian history, the political climate and culture, over candidates who have worked overseas for a period of time.
- 65% of respondents believe that Australian businesses are creating an environment that discourages Australians working overseas from returning.
- 67% of returned expats are packing their bags and returning overseas because their international experience is not valued.
- Two-thirds of returned expats have considered leaving Australia again to secure the right role.
There’s a very clear halo effect that comes from familiarity. When hiring for professional roles, recruiters are assessing pedigree, but they’re doing that all wrong...There's immense opportunity for recruiters in looking beyond the familiar and opening their minds to the ability and skill that returning expats can offer businesses and in turn, the Australian economy.
Senior Vice President Marketing
Meanwhile, expats themselves need to be prepared and mindful. Things may have changed in their home country in their absence. Events have taken place that have shaped Australia that may have eluded them, and returned expats may have achieved a level of seniority that does not exist here… we all need to remain connected and value our Australian diaspora and the contribution they make, domestically and internationally.
As executive search recruiters, when we take a brief, it’s our job to find the person that matches their criteria as closely as possible, not just the best person ‘on the market’. The perception from clients with returned expats is that the shift in experience while overseas may no longer seem relevant to the local market here.
What is of concern… is that recruiters are reluctant to hire a returned expat for an Australian-based role because of ‘cultural difficulties’. Most returned expats will have extensive experience in navigating and adapting to very complex contexts outside Australia and as a result, possess great skills in cross-cultural communication. These skills are as valuable and relevant inside Australia as they are out.
Chief Executive Officer
A candidate’s time abroad helps to develop cross-cultural understanding and other perceived benefits, such as communication and linguistic ability, global market understanding, specific product knowledge, improved work ethic, job satisfaction and technical expertise… Candidates should showcase how their time overseas has honed their soft and professional skills, and the value this offers to the Australian employer, throughout the hiring process.
We need the best skills and most talented workforce in the world, that means doubling down on economic growth and innovation to make sure the jobs expat Australians need are here when they return. We also need an education and skills system that works for those who need to re-skill and re-train when they return.
Business Council of Australia
Many returning expats bring larger scale and transformational leadership experience in markets that have already faced challenges we are now facing locally – including digitisation, innovation and regulatory change.