The Immigrant, Expatriate, and Repatriate Experience: How Career Professionals Can Smooth the Way?

Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)


In a global economy, the workforce is increasingly mobile. For some workers, mobility involves international relocation rather than simply shifting between jobs within the same geographic region. Through a literature review and eight case examples, the similarities and differences between four groups of mobile workers are explored: immigrants, expatriates, global careerists, and repatriates. Unfortunately, not all their migration experiences are positive ones.

Career counselors and practitioners need to be informed about the unique challenges and circumstances that impact international workers and their families; the needs of immigrants choosing to relocate to a new country and establish permanent roots may be significantly different from those of an expatriate manager assigned for a specific term to a foreign office. The repatriation experience of a manager returning to the head office of a multinational organization may be quite different from that of an individual who had been working abroad as a local hire, but was unexpectedly laid off during a regional economic downturn. The needs of global careerists, moving from country to country as work becomes available, may differ significantly from the needs of migrant farm workers who return to the same region each year for seasonal work.

Several theoretical perspectives are introduced as frameworks for understanding the unique realities of immigrants, expatriates, repatriates, and global careerists, including culture-infused counseling, the culture accommodation model, the cultural preparedness framework, and career counseling for underserved populations. Topics examined in this chapter include culture shock, transitions, credential recognition, language competency, relocation, and settlement—some of the challenges associated with globally mobile careers. Ten practical strategies to help career counselors/practitioners strategically assist their diverse globally mobile clients are provided. These include: (1) do not assume, (2) listen carefully, (3) address first things first, (4) customize interventions to the stage of migration, (5) be creative, (6) gather resources, (7) facilitate mentorship opportunities, (8) support workplace-based career development programs, (9) facilitate career management through professional associations, and (10) advocate.

The four-stages-of-learning model is introduced to illustrate a fundamental challenge that many service providers face when working with internationally mobile clients—they “don’t know what they don’t know” or, in the language of the model, are unconsciously incompetent. Gaps in career counselor/practitioner training are acknowledged, with alternatives provided for innovative skill building solutions. The chapter concludes with suggestions for further research, a summary of the challenges and new approaches to working with this increasingly important group of clients, and a discussion of relevance across cultures. In an increasingly interdependent global workplace, individuals and organizations across the world are impacted by the immigrant, expatriate, and repatriate experience.


International Experience Career Counselor Mobile Client Mobile Worker International Assignment 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Life Strategies Ltd.AldergroveCanada

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