Most of my clients with whom I work just want one thing: to get paid to do the job they love. For many of them, that means a promotion. When I ask, “What is your plan to get a promotion?”, it becomes silent.

Expat professionals have an additional challenge which they wouldn’t face if they stayed in their own country and that is a network to support them and a deep understanding of how the local culture works.

Below I made a list of some of the main mistakes expat professionals make and how you can avoid these mistakes, so you can get that promotion. So, let’s dive in!

1. No clarityMany people believe that if they will continue to work hard, a promotion will be a natural given. But it is not. Your career is your responsibility, not your boss’s or CEO’s. Everything begins with clarity. What is your vision for your professional future? Without this clarity, you will be drifting like a bottle in the ocean, going to wherever the waves will take you.

So, take a pen and paper and map out the next five years. What would give you the most joy and fulfilment, professionally? With whom do you see yourself working, on what projects, and using which of your strengths?

2. No clear planHaving clarity when it comes to your next steps is definitely a necessary first step, but the step-by-step plan that counts as well. Most professionals are great at doing their job really well, but often forget to spend time on their own development. And in order to develop yourself, you need to have a plan for what you want to develop and how to get there. Once you have a clear vision of where you want to be in the next years, you will need a clear step-by-step plan on how to get there.

Try to answer the following questions: Do you need to do any additional studies? Which skills do you need to develop? Which people can help you to get there? Write it all down and break it into small steps.

3. No idea who can help youThis point is crucial. No matter how hard you work and how crystal clear your vision is, you need people who will help you. Often the problem expat professionals have is that they left their support network back in their home country and need to start all over again. I know it is tough, because I have been there myself. Relationships take time to build. Especially in the Netherlands, where people tend to be more distant, than in, for example, southern countries.

Therefore, you need to start building your support network TODAY. In order to make sure you will get that promotion soon; you will need to tap into two types of networks: the internal and external one. Both are equally important.

Internal networkThe internal one involves your boss, a mentor from your company, a promoter (someone who can actually pull the strings in your organisation) and other senior professionals.

External networkThe external one involves a career coach, for instance, someone who helps you get clarity on your desired next role(s), helps you with making a step-by-step plan and keeps you accountable for executing it. Or a recruiter, for example, who knows what’s going on in your industry, other professionals from outside of your company, or a mentor, should you choose someone outside of your organisation.

Make a list of all the people who can help you and start building genuine relationships with them.

Invest your timeIf you are truly serious about playing your A-game, the smartest thing you can do is invest your time and energy into building the above. Remember, focusing 100 percent on making sure your responsibilities are done and 0 percent on yourself and your development may sound like a noble thing to do, but in reality, it is naive. You need to believe in yourself and show up for yourself. You are your own highest priority, not your tasks.

4. Not knowing the local culture and the local job marketObviously, when you arrive in a new country, you might not know how things work very well. The quicker you will find out how the local (Dutch) culture works, the better. Understanding the Dutch job market is equally important. What are the newest developments in your industry? What are the salary levels? Make sure you research it well.

Here are some links to the previous articles on this topic.

How to nail job interviews in the Netherlands You moved to the Netherlands jobless, now what? Ready for a promotion? What is the one thing you will implement from the aforementioned list?

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