Career Tips for Expat Women: Advance Your Career in 5 Minutes
Updated: Jun 19
Are you an expat woman looking to advance your career abroad? You've landed a job abroad but feel restless, like just having a job is not enough. You know you are capable of more, and you want more. You're ready to approach your job differently and take your career to the next level. Yet, you're feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of where to start.
Here's the good news: with the right guidance, you can advance in your career and make moves that are taking you toward your goals.
Whether you're already established in your field or just starting, there are a few things every expat woman should remember when looking to advance their career abroad. Here are seven essential tips you can apply today in less than five minutes to get ahead in the international job market.
Scroll down to find the tips.
#1 Research the culture
Researching a country's culture is essential for any female expat looking to build a successful career abroad.
Understanding cultural nuances can help you make informed decisions about job opportunities, how to interact with colleagues and superiors, and even how to dress for interviews or work events. It can also help you gain insight into what employers are looking for in terms of skills, experience, and qualifications.
By researching the culture of your host country, you'll be better equipped to navigate the international job market and position yourself as an attractive candidate and expert who understands local customs. You'll also adapt to your workplace more quickly and navigate it more effectively, leading to better performance and more success.
How to research the culture in the next 5 minutes
Find a book or online guide about the culture of your host country and read up on it. You get bonus points if it explains business communication and cultural differences that exist in the workplace.
Connect with another expat who has had success in the same field or country and ask them for advice on building a successful career in your new location.
Invite a co-worker to a coffee chat and ask them about the culture and customs you should know about related to work.
#2 Start building your network
Networking is an essential tool for any career woman, no matter where you are.
Networking got a bad reputation. Same as hustling, the vibe and the idea of these activities feels sleazy and off-putting. But in essence, networking is all about connecting with people and building relationships. And that's something you do in any interaction with others. So think of networking as a way to expand your horizons, open yourself up to new opportunities and learn from the experiences of others.
By connecting with people in your field or industry, you can gain insight into what it takes to progress in your field and even find mentors who can guide you along the way. It will not only help to advance your career, but it will also provide valuable connections that can be helpful down the road. (Plus, it helps to have a friend or two in your corner if you're feeling homesick or lonely.)
How to start building your network in the next 5 minutes
Join a Facebook group for expats in your location and start making connections.
Sign up for a networking event or workshop in your area and show up ready to introduce yourself and make new contacts.
Find industry influencers from the country you're living in on LinkedIn and start following them. Comment on their posts and engage with their content.
#3 Build quality relationships
Piggybacking off the previous tip, it's important to remember that it's not enough to make a connection. True value is in the quality of the relationships you build, especially when building a career abroad without the safety net of family or friends from home.
Rather than collecting business cards and making friends solely for the sake of it, focus on building meaningful relationships with like-minded people. Make sure to stay in touch after every meeting or event and nurture those connections with genuine interest and care.
The more you invest in your professional relationships, the bigger returns you can expect. Quality connections come with an increased likelihood of referrals, job opportunities, mentorship, and support. As such, they are invaluable to your career growth.
How to start building quality relationships in the next 5 minutes
Send a message to a former co-worker, mentor, or someone else you haven't spoken to in a while and ask them how they're doing. Keep the relationship alive.
Introduce two of your professional contacts to one another who could benefit from that connection. By helping them expand their network, you're adding value to your relationship with them.
Follow up with someone you connected with recently and share a resource or article that could be useful to them, or offer your help on something that might benefit them.
#4 Continue honing your skills
Professional development is universally important. No matter where you are in the world, it's essential to keep your skills sharp and stay up-to-date on the latest trends, work on your soft skills, and learn new things to help you progress in your career.
When looking for new opportunities or advancing your career abroad, employers expect you to have certain knowledge and expertise. Keeping your skills fresh helps you stay competitive in the international job market and boosts your confidence. It also shows employers that you're serious about your career and willing to put in the effort to keep up with current trends.
How to improve your skills in the next 5 minutes
Find local courses or workshops that offer short classes on the skills you need to improve.
Look up online resources and tutorials on topics you're interested in and set aside time to watch or read through them regularly.
Sign up for language classes and learn the local language. It's a great way to not only improve your skills, but also make new friends. Plus, it's the best way to show that you're invested in building your career in the local market.
#5 Work on your confidence
Sometimes, skills and competencies are not enough. When it comes to succeeding professionally in a new country, confidence is key. It's not just about what you know but also about how you present yourself and your abilities. Think of it this way - how can people know that you're great at what you do if you don't dare to show it?
A healthy level of self-confidence helps you put your best foot forward and make a good impression on potential employers, clients, or colleagues. It also exudes professionalism and enables you to stand out while giving employers greater confidence in your abilities.
How to work on your confidence in the next 5 minutes
Make a list of all your accomplishments, big and small. Write down everything from courses and certificates you have achieved to projects you completed on time or exceeded expectations.
Write down positive things people have said about you, your work and reflect on moments when you felt particularly confident or proud of your achievements.
Create a "confidence playlist" filled with all the songs that make you feel powerful and motivated. Listen to it whenever you need a boost in confidence. This may seem silly, but it works!
#6 Put yourself out there
Put your confidence into practice, and don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Now, "out there" means out of the comfort zone, and in practice, it will be different for everyone.
It could mean attending conferences or events in your field, reaching out to people on social media, building a personal brand on LinkedIn, or seeking new opportunities. It can also mean sharing your opinion in a meeting, taking on new tasks and challenges, or asking for a raise or promotion.
Whatever it looks like for you, the key is to be bold and take action. Even if you don't get the results you wanted on the first try, don't worry. Taking risks leads to growth and will help you become more successful in the long run.
How to put yourself out there in the next 5 minutes
Define what "putting yourself out there" means to you and write it down. You probably already know the answer, so take some time and write down the steps you will need to take for it to happen.
Schedule a weekly or monthly appointment with yourself to work on things that put you out of your comfort zone. Whether it's networking, learning a new skill, or anything else, just 30 minutes per week or month can get you ahead.
Find an accountability partner and check in with each other regularly to track progress on your goals and stay motivated.
#7 Ask for what you want
It's true what they say–if you don't ask, you don't get.
Asking for what you want can have a huge impact on your career. It shows that you are confident and driven, which is essential to get ahead in the professional world. Asking for what you want also demonstrates that you understand your worth and aren't afraid to ask for it.
It could be asking for a raise, more responsibilities that will take your career to the next level, or a promotion. It could also be a request for a new challenge, getting involved in a project, or asking a person you admire to mentor you.
How to get started on asking for what you want in the next 5 minutes
Find a book on negotiation and set up a time to read it. It can help you build confidence and learn strategies to get what you want.
Think of something you really want and list all the reasons why you deserve it. Decide who can help you with this and make an action plan to ask them for support.
Write a script of what you'll say when you ask for what you want, whatever it is. Practice it in front of the mirror or with a trusted friend to feel more confident when you make the request.
If you want to build a successful career abroad, these seven career advancement tips will ensure that you stay on track as an expat woman striving for success in her professional life.
Research local customs, network with others in similar fields, focus on building quality relationships, continue improving your hard and soft skills, work on your confidence—and above all else—always put yourself out there and ask for what you want.
Even though these career advancement tips may seem hard or intimidating at first, putting them into practice doesn't have to be difficult. Just pick some of the 5-minute implementation ideas outlined in this article.
With these seven tips guiding your journey towards advancing your career abroad, nothing will stand between you and success.
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Matilda Patsou & Ana Colak-Fustin
Matilda and Ana, the founders of MoreThanCareers, are expats, international corporate recruiters and HR professionals with 18+ years of combined HR experience. Since 2018, our career-building techniques, tools and resources have helped over 500 coaching clients and 8,000 individuals worldwide land new, more fulfilling, higher-paying and career-changing jobs.