A Great Job for a Trailing Spouse

I took a hiatus from blogging due to several recent events, most of which are fodder for future blog posts.  The first one being that I’ve started a(nother) new job.

I’m working as a Relocation Specialist for a company which provides destination services.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term it relates to the receiving end of the relocation process.  My job is to help new arrivals in Toronto find a home, schools and daycare, acquire their government documents and generally show them around the city and their new neighbourhood.  It’s part-time, contract work which means I’m self-employed, work from home and get paid by the assignment.

I’m amazed I didn’t think of this job before but put it down to the fact that a) we’ve never been provided destination services by any of the companies who relocated us, so I only vaguely knew such a thing existed and b) my stupidity on not viewing my hometown as an “expat destination.”  I found this job through a referral at the FIGT conference (thank you, you know who you are!) so again would like to plug the importance of networking when job hunting.  In fact the woman who hired me says she ONLY hires via referral which I thought was rather interesting.

While I’m probably a perfect candidate for the job – my former life in real estate in Toronto means I know the city well and having been relocated myself so many times I have a good understanding of my clients’ situation – in reality I’ve found it quite a learning curve.  So at the moment I’m investing a huge amount of time researching everything from how to get a government health card for an infant who’s not a Canadian citizen, to night clubs and restaurants for young, single professionals.  Not only have many things changed in Toronto since I last lived here, but some things I never needed or experienced.  So far it’s fun, interesting but also a bit scary as I’m expected to be a seasoned Toronto expert and yet I still feel far from it.

A destination service specialist/consultant is a great job for any trailing spouse as they’re needed pretty much anyplace you find expats.

Pros

  • Flexible hours
  • Not stuck in an office
  • I’m learning lots about my city

Cons

  • Workload varies and therefore income varies
  • Dependent on someone else finding work for me
  • Tiring if driving around for a full day
  • Some weekend work (although I can decline it)
  • Business calls can be at any time
  • Working alone

Requirements

  • Knowledge of the city you live in
  • Willingness to learn and research
  • Strong people skills
  • A 4-door car
  • Computer, printer, cell phone

In my former, pre-expat life, I was self-employed as a real estate appraiser, so in many respects the job and lifestyle are similar.  However for anyone used to working regular hours in an office it could be quite an adjustment.  My biggest problem so far is missing the interaction with colleagues because I’m working from home.  I probably need to find some kind of local networking group, but if you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

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4 thoughts on “A Great Job for a Trailing Spouse

  1. This job sounds like just the kind of role I would like to find myself in within the next five years. The chance to welcome new expatriates and to help them get settled sounds very rewarding and also so valuable. When we were overseas, there was very little support in this practical way, but we often commented that we felt we’d have been more successful with it. I hope you will tell us more as you continue this role – it seems that every city could use a handful of such experts, and we could learn from you.

  2. I’ve always felt that the best and cheapest support a company can provide is to connect transferees with expats in their new location. While overseas I’ve used and volunteered in many unofficial networks of trailing spouses supporting newcomers and it’s hugely beneficial. Now, finally, I’m getting paid to do it, lol!

  3. When I moved (because of my husband’s job) to the Hague from the UK twelve years ago, I only expected to be there for 2-3 years, as this was the norm. But, after two years we realized the short term assignment was likely to be long-term.

    I began working for the Spouse Employment Centre as a contractor helping Shell Expat partners find their career focus, write their CVs, develop their interview skills, and ultimately help them to find a job in The Netherlands. I loved the job, and later became the team leader of Global Outpost Services (Shell) Careers & Development Team. I left my job 5 years ago, and have been working since then as a freelance careers coach, recruiter and trainer. I now work for myself doing much the same thing, but sometimes from the other side of the desk!

    I now also work with students – to help them find career focus, or get a place at university. You, like me seem to have found your ideal job – one where you can use your considerable expertise, but continue to learn too! Great to hear more from you.

  4. Pingback: Repatriation – Two Years On « ExpatriateLife

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