Your say: brain drain in reverse

Australians are returning home in record droves, but are employers making the most of their international experience? Here's what you had to tell us.

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  1. "I lived in London for three years and when I came home (initially to Queensland) in 2008, no one understood my experience. I was working on digital campaigns for global film companies in London and while I impressed people in Australia, I was so over-skilled that I couldn't find work. I've been much more successful In Sydney and now Melbourne. Now, a few years on, the Aussies have caught up and big businesses actually value a 30-year-old with international experience.

    "I gave this advice to my sister, and my friends who come back: make sure you come back for the right reasons, to be near family and to enjoy the amazing lifestyle. Your career will catch up, but it takes time. Get out there and make as many connections as possible. Be entrepreneurial. Be bold. Australia is truly the land of opportunity right now because we aren't held back by 100s years of 'customs' and fuddy duddy beliefs. It is possible to build your own momentum here. Welcome home. Hang in there." - Robyn
  2. "Following the turn of the century and after having experienced some life-changing personal circumstances, I decided to head overseas to seek a future. My destination of South Korea has turned out to be a fantastic positive choice. Nevertheless, after working in this new country for 10 years, I made the decision to return. My hopes were high and with the good economic environment that was said to exist in Australia, I felt that this was the right time to go home. Little was I to know that my home land had become so expensive to live in and that it would be so difficult to find full-time employment. Under-employment has apparently grown dramatically and I quickly found myself among the working poor. In short, it took a mere six months to realise that I would be better off living where I had been in North Asia. Much to the disappointment of my family members, I returned to greener pastures in South Korea, disillusioned by the circumstances in Australia." - Albert
  3. "I have spent a significant portion of my professional life living and working overseas which I loved for many reasons. I returned a short while ago and it was quite difficult finding employment in my field of aviation. In fact most companies (big or small) did not even respond to my applications and were not interested in my international experience. I finally found a position with an international airline but the company went into administration not long after my return. After many months of unemployment I found another reasonable position with a domestic carrier but I am so despondent on how poorly it is managed and of how much the rules are flaunted (both the labour laws and general safety) that I am actively searching to go back overseas again. The industry here is a long way behind the rest of the world, which I certainly did not expect for Australia. It has been an 'eye opener' for sure and I would caution others in my position to think long and hard before committing to return to Australia. Don't even start me on the cost of living." - Peter
  4. Returned from overseas end of 2011 but still working there
  5. "I lived in Canada for a year in 2010, working in sales and marketing for a highly respected craft beer company, Granville Island Brewing. In January 2011 I returned to Australia and started looking for work in Melbourne. I was applying for an average of 20 jobs per week, and getting around one interview per week. My experience overseas was not regarded with the same respect it garnered in Canada. One prominent recruitment company representative even told me that experience overseas could work against job seekers. It was the end of March before I found work, and the work that I did find was through a contact I made as a freelance journalist. All of the work I've got since then has been through my own networking, rather than my experience. A friend of mine that worked overseas for a similar amount of time as a PA also found that companies and recruitment agencies did not value her experience overseas. It's almost as if the people hiring staff don't count the work we did because it was in another country." - AmyBG
  6. Parting shot of Boeing 747-400 @Lufthansa at IAD
  7. "I returned from overseas with varied and valuable experience that I would not have been able to get in Perth, my home city. I returned to study teaching and graduated two years ago, securing a job at one of the top primary schools in WA. I know that my travel and work experience were very influential in helping me gain that position. It was very competitive, with over 400 teachers competing for the chance to work there. My principal said she highly valued my international experiences. I have a more balanced view of the world as a result of my stint overseas and I wouldn't trade those experiences and time away for anything." - Tamara 
  8. "I have had an awful time trying to find work back in Australia. I am working but in a low-paying job way below my capabilities, skills, experience and education. My international experience and expertise are not valued in Australia. I was working with a major international organisation for 10 years in a number of countries and feel that most employers see my CV and instead of looking at transferable skills just immediately assume that my experience has nothing to do with their business. Unless I get to the interview stage I cannot dispel any of their preconceptions regarding my experience. My advice to returning expats is to 'dumb down' your CV and if you get to interview stage emphasise your transferable skills whilst playing down your international experience as much as possible." - Kerry
  9. "I returned home from the UK just before Christmas last year. I was in London working on some West End shows and events. I work in the theatre but I am actually an arts administrator not an actor. Knowing there would not be much theatre work around I signed up with 10 employment agencies - as I thought my admin skill could be transferable into the corporate sector.  I have now been home from six months and I've worked about a grand total of six weeks. Luckily there are some shows and events coming up so I am sorted once again. Granted I come from a difficult employment sector, however I found with the employment agencies, they look favourably on the backpackers over the locals. Then the locals are looked upon more favourably than the locals with overseas experience. I have a suspicious feeling that the tall poppy syndrome may play a little role in this." - Danielle Lonnon
  10. "I spent nearly 10 years in Europe with global business responsibilities - the temptation was always to stay a little longer in Europe for even greater experience which I thought would help on the return back to Australia. Was it valued in Oz? Definitely not - a general response was 'you don't have any recent local experience'. Even when I pointed out that knowledge and experience can be applied across the board, this didn't help. My solution was to set up my own business for several years. Unfortunately parochialism (and probably a fear of people with a broad experience and outlook) rules." - Kai Romot
  11. "After many years of development consulting across Asia, the Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, I came home to very satisfying work with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the far north. My international cross-cultural experience was highly regarded in this context. The tip I have for other returnees is don't be held hostage by salary scale expectations, because you can live on less than an international remuneration package and be immensely satisfied working in challenging roles." - Alan Crouch
  12. My obligatory over-the-wing shot (from yesterday) #Hipstamatic #RobotoGlitter #W40
  13. "I worked in Europe for five-six years as a touring musician in an original band. We ran the band together as a small business, employing four musicians and two crew, plus one or two extra for tours. We worked consistently in around 10 countries, dealing with the logistics, language barriers, financial and legal issues involved. Since returning to Australia I've learnt that my experience working internationally as a successful professional in a creative industry is considered negatively in the job market. Music is an unregulated, insecure form of employment and is not valued in Australia in the same way it is in Europe. There is not the population to support more than a handful of full-time performing musicians here, and while everyone 'consumes' music on a daily basis in Australia they do not think being a musician is a valid occupation like European cultures do.

    "In my industry valuable professional experience in international markets is actually a disadvantage in the job market here. Australian business has a reputation in Europe as employing people more by who they know, their personal connections, than by merit or qualification. Having been out of the country for several years means lost chances at building the networks that get you work. Being better qualified counts for nothing if it happened somewhere else." - Nick
  14. I came back to Australia for work after living in South America. I am self employed. Within 4 days I had 3 consulting jobs. It's really tough in other countries right now...it has really given me perspective about the opportunities that exist in Australia.
  15. "I had no trouble getting work on returning. I have program, project and several IT qualifications. Coming back here was coming to the 50s compared to Europe and USA. Everyone is antiquated in thinking. The NBN debate is a farce. Speed, speed, speed and more speed to compete with Europe, Asia and USA. We are caught in a time warp. My intention is to get back overseas, ASAP. I fear Australia will become a primary or secondary industry backwater with no digital capability, no vision for the future and a place the rest of the world sees as backward." - Thomas Saietta
  16. "I am a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL), and hold a masters degree in Applied Linguistics. I spent about eight years living and working abroad between the mid-90s and 2008, first in Thailand and then in Qatar, where I developed curriculum materials and taught Arab employees of Qatar Petroleum. On returning to Australia in 2008, I easily obtained employment in my home town of Lismore, NSW, teaching the national government-administered LLNP (Language, Literacy and Numeracy Programme). My international teaching experience and relevant qualifications played a fundamental part in gaining this position, and are greatly valued by my employer. I believe the time I spent teaching abroad has placed me in a very good position for ongoing ESL-related employment in Australia, where I now intend to remain." - John Sharman
  17. "I left Australia in 1971 to study in the UK. I thought I might be away a few years, but it was 2009 before I got home to live permanently. In the interim I had been 20 years at the BBC as an executive producer, and then ran two production companies in London. I spent about a year looking for work back in Australia before I left the UK without success, and then about six months door knocking before people understood my knowledge and experience. However, I have now managed to put together an almost ideal 'new chapter' to my career. I produce live 'relays' of performances from major arts companies (Berlin Philharmonic, Bolshoi Ballet, Black Swan Theatre etc), I lecture at two local universities and at the same time retain strong ties with two UK companies - all from my home in Perth. I really do feel that I now enjoy the perfect work situation. I'm still employed by UK companies, and also with fellow Australians on high quality local productions. My only tip for other ex-pats thinking of returning is: there is no substitute for being on the ground and meeting the locals. You can only do so much by applying for positions and sending off your CVs. Think seriously about making one or two forays to put yourself around - before making the big move." - Robert Marshall
  18. "I worked on two cruise liners, and worked my way from children's entertainment to a 3.5 star senior officer. I made the conscious decision to move back to Australia, and within 12 months I made it to a general manager position with a large hotel company, currently running one of the major resorts in Noosa, Queensland. Moving overseas and living there for nine years was awesome, but coming back down under and landing such an amazing job is beyond anything I could have imagined." - Cameron Jeffery
  19. "I left Adelaide in 2005 to work as an accountant in Houston, as a planning and reporting manager for a large multinational oil and gas service company. I spent one year there, then two and a half years in Abu Dhabi, then one year in Kuala Lumpur, and then one and a half years in Kazakhstan. I then left the company and returned home mid-2011. I was unable to find work for three months, and then it was a low-paid contract role. At the end of 2011 I was asked to re-join the company for a role where I would spend four weeks at a time in Houston on a planning project. I am still in that role and will keep going until the project is finished. The Adelaide market feels recessionary despite the glowing reports of the Australian economy that you hear overseas, so any advice to expats considering returning home would be to carefully research the economy of where they are planning to come back to, as it may be better to stay where they are. The cost of living for every location we lived in was lower than Australia, so coming back to a place where the opportunities are less can be a real shock." - Michael Harvey
  20. "I'm a scientist and was awarded a four-year NHMRC fellowship, which enabled me to work two years overseas and two years back in Australia. I visited many laboratories when I returned to Australia, but there were no offers for me to join their groups, despite my two years of money. Grants (to cover lab expenses) were especially hard to get, and they had to protect their 'own' first, I guess. My former boss in the UK asked me to return, and so, at the end of my two Oz years, I did. My international experience and expertise were not valued at all. My tip is, if you are a returning scientist, don't be out of the Australian system for too long, because you'll never get back in again. It's a real shame, and totally the opposite of what I'd been led to expect." - Anita Thomas
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