Living abroad and looking for work in the UK: ask the expert

I’m a stay-at-home mum at the moment who will be having to start back to work this coming summertime. I am hoping to find some flexible homework, but my problem is that I live in Madrid, Spain. Here the Spanish haven’t got round to flexible mum-friendly jobs yet and with the crisis hitting hard things are difficult, I would love to move back to the UK, but for personal reasons I can’t. I would like to know if there are many companies out there in the UK looking for expats working abroad. Is it worth me looking or am I just wasting my time?

I’ve just been listening to a radio feature on unemployment in different EU countries – it reported that Spain’s situation was markedly worse than ours, so you’re facing quite a challenge. That said, UK-based mums would probably tell you there aren’t any easy, family-friendly options here either. In both countries, landing a job that works for the family requires enormous determination and creativity.

Madrid is Spain’s capital city, the hub of its political and business life and the single most important tourist destination so your location does help you quite a lot.

Let’s think about your other assets. You’re a mum who knows about children and family life in both the UK and Spain. You’ll have family members scattered in potentially useful locations (eg London, Barcelona, etc). You probably speak and write good Spanish as well as being a native English speaker. You may have contacts within the world of work (eg friends still active in the employment sector you previously worked in and family members who can put in a good word for you with their bosses).

You need to start gathering information. For details of the trade between the UK and Spain and the companies engaged in it, try the British Embassy, the Anglo-Spanish Chambers of Commerce, the heritage and tourist associations and so on. Think what needs each of these companies may have – and how they satisfy these needs at present. To give an example – employers need to transfer executives and their families; could you offer help re-settling their families (finding short-term housing, school places, etc)?

It’s likely you’d land up with lots of small “jobs” that you’d have to juggle – eg rewriting a website to describe child-friendly amusements for a family holiday in Madrid; property-managing vacant flats and showing them to prospective English-speaking tenants; and guiding / translating for visiting groups of business people. It wouldn’t be easy but it might be a fun way to boost your income while the children are small. Good luck!

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