Europe–at least most of it, is a good place to live and work. I was born in Europe, spent most of my life living here, and I actually ran a recruitment agency (which dealt also with foreign labor) for four years. I do not recruit foreigners for European companies anymore, but I believe I can give you some advice on how to make your dream come true. Let’s start!
First step: Pick your country
Before anything else you should choose a country where you want to work. This will help you to specify your goal, and will make things more clear for the next steps. You should consider the following criteria when choosing your future place of work:
Attitude to foreign labor-both moral and legal
This is the most important thing to consider. When a country rejects vast majority of working visa applications, when extremists sit in the government, or when the country experiences economic recession, and local people have no jobs (just like in Spain or Italy or England), it would make no sense to try to get a job there. It just won’t happen…
Oppositely, if a country experiences economic expansion, and welcomes foreign workers (Germany is a prime example of this at the moment), you will have a good chance to make your dream come true.
Language and cultural barrier
The more you can blend in, the easier it will be for you to find the job, and also to enjoy your time abroad. The good news is that in many top-tier European countries, you will get around with English, since most locals speak English on a very good level (it is their second language).
To such countries belong Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Austria, Poland, Estonia, and others. In some of the other big economies you’ll have to learn their language (at least the basics), which is the case with France, or Italy, and almost all countries in Eastern Europe.
You should also consider the local culture, religion, landscape, and other things. Live is not only work, and you should have some social life. Check some videos on YouTube (searching for a name of the country + presentation video), to get a better idea.
Ability to prolong your stay easily (or at least somehow)
Would you like to become European citizen later on? Would you like to stay for more years? Would you like to bring your relatives to the country, after some time?
Each country has different regulations (it differs even within European Union members) and you should research about it before making a decision. Keep your long terms goals on your mind when choosing a country where you want to work…
Second Step: Pick a job
Another step to make your goal specific, realistic, and achievable is picking a job you want to have. Knowing what you want to do in Europe will help you greatly to improve your resume (to suit your application for that particular job)
You should be realistic, consider your skills and experience (what you are good at, what you enjoy doing, etc) and pick a job. You can follow our simple guide What job is right for me, if you are not sure.
You will find all kinds of jobs in Europe–from farming and construction to engineering and leadership roles. In all sectors of economy, at least some positions are held by foreigners. There is no reason why you could not join their ranks soon.
Third step: Improve your documents and qualification, prepare
Back in the day, when I ran a recruitment company, I got countless emails from foreigners. They wanted a job. But they didn’t know what kind of job they wanted. And nearly all of them sent a poor resume. And they didn’t even know a word of local language…
And when someone finally sent good materials, and I eventually interviewed them or arranged an interview for them, they’d fail terribly in the interview. How could I help them then?
You should understand that recruitment process in Europe is much more complicated and sophisticated. It differs a lot from what you likely experienced back home.
You should have a resume and cover letter that reflects your career goals and your motivation. You should be ready to answer interview questions, and make a good impression. And you should know what you want in life. All of that is possible only when you follow the first two steps from this guide–choosing a country, and a job you want to have.
Then you can, and should, adjust your resume, learn at least the basics of local language, and prepare for the interview. Then and only then you will have a realistic chance to succeed and start working in Europe, on a decent position.
Step four: Apply for jobs
Once you have your documents ready, and know where you want to work, you can start applying. Here you have several options, such as applying with a local agency, with an agency in your country, trying your luck directly on the job boards, and so on.
Each of these options have some advantages and disadvantages, and I explain them in detail in our guide on How to get a job overseas (see Step Three in that guide).
Game of numbers? Or maybe not?
I remember talking to many foreigners who spent months sending their resume in all directions. To agencies, to companies, to recruitment consultants–without getting any positive responses, or interview invitations.
Certainly, job search is a game of numbers, and you should send more applications… But focus on quality at first place. If there are errors on your resume, or it doesn’t match the job description, or you simply send the same email to everyone, you will never succeed in your job search.
Pick ten places to apply, and do your best to send them a top-notch application–relevant, original, and error free.
Beware of scams and frauds, modern day slavery
Regretfully, many criminals take advantage of poor people. Modern day slavery exists even in the most developed countries of the world, and Europe is no exception.
A rule of thumb to remember: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone promises you an easy job abroad and excellent payment, or if you can travel five days after the initial contact with the agency/employer, something is definitely not right…
Be careful, verify the information with the police and labor ministry, and do not pay anyone or go anywhere, unless you are sure of your safety, and the accuracy of their offer.
That’s it. Follow the guide, step by step, and hopefully you will find yourself with a good job in Europe soon. I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Get a job on a cruise ship – A wonderful but tough job that allows you to sail the seas and get to know new places (in rare moments when you do not have to wipe the floor or clean the cabins). A step by step guide on how to get hired for this job.
- How to write a great job application – Learn how to stand out with your application, and secure an invitation for an interview.
- How to nail an interview – Ten tips that should help you to nail your job interview.