Dear Job Doctor, What is your advice for partners/spouses of current expats hired in Luxembourg? They represent a vast talent pool, but they find it hard to obtain roles, mainly because of the language barrier. Thank you!

This is for sure a very popular subject and is frustrating for all parties.

What happened?

Firstly, many of those who are transferred from an international office or those who have secured a role in Luxembourg, often do so with little understanding of the local employment market regarding opportunities for their spouse/partner.

Secondly, many companies fail to include the spouse/partner in the decision-making process to highlight the options or challenges when looking to pursue their own career.

As a recruiter handling international transfers for many years, I recognise this is one of the most important aspects to discuss when relocating.

Moving to a new country and into a new role, is not only a rewarding experience but it can also come with a great deal of stress and anxiety. It’s important to ensure the whole family is comfortable and happy with the change and their expectations are managed accordingly.

I regularly receive calls from a spouse/partner who have had an outstanding career and discover that in Luxembourg their discipline and sector is either too narrow or local languages are required.

I’m here now!

With over 170 nationalities in Luxembourg, English is one of the most common lingua franca, but for most organisations in Luxembourg, French and/or German is required. Let’s face it, communicating in one’s mother tongue is not only more desirable, it facilitates integration into the company culture more smoothly.

With French and German being the legal languages, many roles require fluency in one or both and for most reasons to converse with organisations outside of the company in their mother tongue, google translate is not going to help you in this situation!

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Options

It would be easy to say ‘learn French’, which is indeed a very useful language to have in Luxembourg, however, this is going to take some time to be able to communicate for business.

Not all roles require another language and the most common and successful approach to finding a role outside of your expertise is through friends of friends, connections of connections. Ask for help and ideas, letting everyone in you network know you are open to consider most opportunities, some of those may be ‘door openers’ where your true talents can be utilised later.

The coronavirus has not made it any easier, with limited opportunity for face to face networking. Most organisations that hold events have created virtual ones, it’s harder to create new connections during these events, but a follow up contact over LinkedIn can expand your network.

The International Dual Career Network http://www.idcn.info/our-locations/luxembourg.aspx is a good place to start. They can assist in your personal job search and provide support.

Be mindful that most recruitment firms specialise on certain disciplines and sectors, AngloInfo is a good reference and list the recruitment firms active in Luxembourg https://www.angloinfo.com/luxembourg.. You can also find a list of the Business Associations for networking opportunities.

Entrepreneur

Maybe this is the moment to do what you’re passionate about or you’ve exhausted your options of finding meaningful employment.

There are many resources available in Luxembourg to help guide you through the process of establishing your start-up, namely the House of Entrepreneurship (https://www.houseofentrepreneurship.lu/) which is an initiative of the Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of the Economy.

Meet an Entrepreneur (https://meetanentrepreneur.lu/) provides some very good guidance and advice from those who have been through the start-up journey themselves.

Untapped Talent

There is indeed a vast pool of relocated talented individuals who, given the opportunity, would excel. Luxembourg has a long way to go before accepting transferrable skills. There are too few organisations who adopt a ‘hire for attitude, train for skills (language)’ approach.

Albeit slowly the Luxembourg employment market is changing and more opportunities are opening up for English only speaking job seekers, as yet we can’t rely on it.

For employers and HR professionals

When you are considering accepting an international transfer or recruiting internationally, I highly recommend having a final informal meeting with both the candidate and the spouse/partner to discuss the pitfalls of relocating. It’s better to uncover potential issues related to both careers well before your employee starts to ensure a long and fruitful tenure.

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Darren Robinson is the Managing Partner at Anderson Wise, an independent local recruitment firm in Luxembourg. www.andersonwise.com