From Expat to Repat – How to Make it a Success?

Author: Birgitte Ovesen

”It is like starting a journey in a Limousine and coming back in an old Ford” (C Nørgaard, “Udstationeret”.)

To start the journey is exciting, something big and new, but coming back is often more like a cold shower.

If expatriated and repatriated for the same company, be sure to match your career expectations with HR both before leaving and in due time before moving back. A successful repatriation starts before your expatriation. Too many repatriated Danes have experienced that an expatriation didn’t lead to the expected promotion, but more often to a status quo job or even a step back. It could be one of the reasons why young Danes having an international profile increasingly are seeking employment opportunities abroad although they are badly needed in Denmark.

According to a new analysis from The Boston Consulting Group 55% of 4000 Danish participants would be ready to leave for an exciting job opportunity abroad, mainly in the US, Germany or the UK. It is an increase of 7% compared to 2014, and among younger people the figure is even 77%. Consequently, Danish companies will have to work much harder to attract, maintain and develop the international profiles as for the so-called Global Danes.

Main focus if returning to Denmark?

When considering coming back you mainly have to take into account your career possibilities and the situation of your partner and/or family.

It is important to study the job market in due time getting a feeling of the needs and the actual trends.

Contact the companies you know and/or where you would like to work. Apply for a given vacancy or send an unsolicited application if no vacancy published. A good advice is to try to make an appointment with HR or with manager in some of your preferred companies. Skype is very well accepted, but a face-to-face meeting might give you a better starting point to get a job in the company. Make it very clear to the company how to achieve a win-win by explaining your specific international experience and match it with the need of the company.

It is worth contacting the Headhunter companies and make sure to upload your CV in their database. A personal contact can also increase your chances of being selected for some interesting interviews.

In Denmark we like networking, and business life in Denmark is based on networks, so use your networks and join new relevant once. LinkedIn is the biggest recruiting platform in Denmark, use it to get in contact with companies and to get information about vacancies.

Allow yourself to think out of the box when considering coming back to Denmark. Why not start with short term contract having the possibility to transfer it to a permanent contract, start with a project demonstrating the specific experience you bring. When looking for a place to live, it can be worth being flexible and you might find different opportunities outside Copenhagen than in the Copenhagen area.

Be aware of the differences in Danish business culture and culture at the Danish workplace compared to other countries.

To succeed when going from being an expat to become a repat you need to prepare yourself mentally and professionally. If you have a partner or a family – the repatriation is a family project, because everyone will find themselves in a new situation whether it is about the language, a job, a school or the social relations for all of you.