What if both of you are looking for a career? | Undutchables

What if both of you are looking for a career?

Developing a career in another country is challenging enough. But what if you are a couple and there are two careers to develop? Dual career couples are a growing phenomenon. Dual career couples value the two careers equally and for each partner, their career is very important for their identity and their life fulfillment. Add international mobility to the mix and you have an International Career Couple. It’s a tall order to bring it all together and to sustain it over time. Fortunately, there are couples who have found ways to deal with this.

Take for example Antonella and Sergio, a young couple from Southern Europe. Antonella dreamed of pursuing her career in life sciences in a new country. Once she got the opportunity to move to Denmark as a Research Programme Manager, Sergio decided to go with her. Antonella was both happy and concerned at the same time. “How can we find a solution that works for both of us?”, she wondered.

It took indeed seven months for Sergio to land a job as a Management Consultant after joining Antonella in Scandinavia. He received many rejections. It was a tough period for his morale. Antonella’s help with job applications, CV writing, networking and the like was much appreciated. Antonella considers Sergio’s success in finding a career opportunity a high point in their relationship: “He impressed me, and at the same time, I felt relieved.”

Looking back Sergio reflects: “Antonella had an extensive network that helped and gave advice. It was encouraging to see other people who had managed to enter the local job market. It motivated me to continue to apply for positions. To follow Antonella was the best choice of my life.”

In the meantime, Antonella and Sergio have noticed that their social network in Denmark is quite different from the friends back home. Their new friends are mostly in the same situation: ambitious professionals from different countries. Antonella and Sergio find the amiable competition among the couples to be stimulating. And the social group has a healthy routine of celebrating their friends’ professional successes.

Now the couple is developing their future together. As a young couple, Antonella and Sergio are, as they call it, ‘taking a sprint’: working hard and progressing fast during the first five years. After that, they expect to settle down somehow. Another possible scenario for them is to move to a developing country in two to three years.

“We believe that our experience moving to different countries—and, hence, finding solutions together to all the ensuing challenges over time—has made us a powerful team. It has given us a high level of trust in each other. Now we know that we can overcome any challenge together, because we support each other. And we’ve learned that our great level of communication and good stamina are two key competencies that have facilitated this progress.”

Antonella and Sergio have learned that working as a team is fundamental for long term success. Other International Career Couples, also more senior ones, have benefited from a joint vision and mutual career development, just like Antonella and Sergio.

Interested to learn from the success stories of these other dual career couples? Get yourself a copy of HERE WE ARE: The International Career Couple Handbook. This practical, no-nonsense book offers powerful ways to guide internationally mobile talent. With in-depth research and substantial HR experience this book argues that the future of global careers requires a holistic strategic perspective on professionals living and working in international trajectories. Applying organisational methods, such as strategic planning, and facilitating meaningful conversations are ways for ICCs to succeed and for organisations to retain them. This handbook is filled with practical tools for each ICC to construct their own map of the future.

About the authors

Dr Paul Vanderbroeck


(Dutch / Swiss)

has a background of managing talent in multinational organisations.

He is an Executive Coach, an accomplished researcher and sought-after speaker on gender balance and leadership development.

Jannie Aasted Skov-Hansen


(Danish)

is a seasoned Human Resource professional, specialized in global people mobility and leadership development.

She is Founder of a community and start-up consultancy, aimed at supporting ICCs in their global careers.

Both authors are themselves each a partner in an ICC as well as parents. Therefore they have first-hand experience of the challenges and opportunities that mark the life of an ICC. They met through a network connection, which underscores one of the book’s main messages: Opportunities arise when you commit to pursuing a long-term vision and short-term goals on a global development path – while remaining open for unexpected turns. They firmly believe that a growth mindset and a supportive network are key for ICC success.

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