This section is for jobseekers from the university and polytechnic sectors, and for those in general who have higher qualifications: students and graduates, teachers and researchers. As certain job sectors are in demand in particular EU countries, highly-qualified jobseekers have good chances of finding a job abroad.
If you plan to start your professional career, find a new job, or a training opportunity in another country of the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland, please have a look at the sections below and the related links.
Transition from student life to professional life abroad
Transition from school to work can be a time of uncertainty. Are you about to conclude (or have you concluded) your studies? Do you wish to move and work in another EEA country? If you have foreign language skills, are flexible, determined and motivated to adapt both to a new job and to a new country and cultural environment, then you have the profile to embrace an international career!
6 STEPS TO STARTING A PROFESSIONAL CAREER ABROAD
Moving from student life to professional life abroad can be daunting. Moreover, applying for a job is often a challenging and time-consuming adventure! In order to make the transition smoother, 6 steps are listed below with useful ’hints & tips’ that you may want to consider before moving to another country. Please click on each item and consult the relevant page.Hints & tips ...
I. Finding information on jobs abroad
European employers can use different services and communication tools to post their job vacancies. The list below gives you an overview of the sources of information at your disposal at European level.
PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT SERVICES AND THE EURES JOB MOBILITY PORTAL
- Visit your local or regional employment office for advice. They may have a EURES Adviser who can provide you with further personalised assistance.
- The EURES Advisers can give advice on job opportunities in the European labour market, refer you to potential employers and provide detailed information on living and working abroad.
- Attend employer presentations, skills workshops and job fairs organised by EURES in your country. Details of events at European level can be consulted through the "Events Calendar" on the homepage of the EURES portal.
- Another useful first port of call for finding out about the living and working conditions in another EEA country is the "Living and Working" section of the EURES portal. It provides detailed information on a country-by-country basis.
- Search for suitable EURES job vacancies in any EEA country through the "Search for a job" facility on the EURES portal. You can access job vacancies in 31 European countries up-dated in real time, covering a wide range of occupations including permanent and seasonal opportunities. EURES vacancies expressly open to transnational recruitment are flagged "European".
- The "EURES Search for a job" facility has a user-friendly search interface. Jobseekers may select, for example, a country, region, profession, type of contract, or combine several criteria for finding a job. It is available in the 25 EEA languages.
- The job vacancies posted on the EURES portal are, in large part, imported directly from the national job vacancies databases. In general, only the title and description of the job are written in the national language of the country source. Other details about the job, such as type of contract, experience and educational level required,. are often translated.
- It is useful to know that each employer decides in what language their vacancy will be posted in the "EURES Search for a job" section. If an employer is particularly interested in recruiting internationally, the vacancy may be published in one or several languages other than the employer’s national language.
- Vacancies in national and international public institutions are published on their respective websites. Please note that for most public administration jobs you have to pass tests or examinations to be short-listed from the original applicants. If you click on "Links" on the top bar of the EURES portal home page, you will find an extensive list of organisations and institutions where you can also find information and job opportunities.
- Job offers from the European Institutions are not available through the EURES portal. They are published on the website of the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO).
PRIVATE EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES AND RECRUITMENT AGENCIES
- In many Member States, there are private employment agencies specifically geared towards finding people temporary work abroad. Likewise, private recruitment agencies in your country or abroad can offer a wide range of information. They will guide you through the application procedures and help you understand the legal requirements connected to relocating.
Before using them, find out if they are duly registered and if they charge for their services. Also check the nature of the employment contracts they offer.
OTHER INFORMATION SOURCES
- Search for relevant events or other job vacancies for graduates on specialised websites or through online search engines (such as Google and Yahoo, for example), national newspapers, specialist publications (e.g. career guide magazines) and also through your university career centre or students association/union. Major public libraries usually receive foreign newspapers and publications on a regular basis. You can also consult the link "Information and jobs for graduates" within "Related Links" where you can find many useful web addresses in the EEA.
- Spending some time in the country of your choice on a traineeship or work placement is an ideal way of getting to know the country and provides the opportunity to job search on the spot. Many large companies organise such work placements. Look for traineeship opportunities in the link "Information and jobs for graduates".
- So far you have read some advice on how to find a career opportunity as employee. Have you considered the possibility of initiating a start-up business in another Member State? Do you know about the new European Commission pilot project ERASMUS for young entrepreneurs"? This mobility scheme is aimed at facilitating training (1-6 months stay abroad), networking and the exchange of experiences among young entrepreneurs by means of traineeships in small and medium-sized enterprises in another EU Member State.
II. Practical and legal aspects of mobility
- How to best match my skills with a foreign job vacancy
Graduate jobseekers in general and, more particularly, those students with fewer opportunities in the labour market, should be flexible with job opportunities. Consider your personal competencies and your openness to learn new skills – think of your self-belief, and have faith in your abilities! Employers are often not as interested in your diplomas or fields of study as they are in your ability to take responsibility and do a job well
- Will my academic and professional qualifications be recognised?
One of the most important elements is finding out how to get your qualifications recognised in the 'host' country and also whether the profession is regulated or not.
The regulated professions are those professions that are restricted to persons holding certain qualifications (lawyers, accountants, teachers, engineers, paramedics, doctors, dentists, veterinary surgeons, pharmacists, and architects, for example). In some of these professions, a list of recognised and equivalent qualifications has been established.
In some other professions only the employer decides if a candidate will be able to do the job. The equivalence is judged on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the course length and content. In this case, you may start practicing as soon as you get a job, but you must observe any necessary procedures applicable to that profession in the host country - which may be different from what you are used to.
A Recommendation establishing the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (EQF) was formally co-signed in April 2008 by the European Parliament and the Council. The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) acts as a translation device to make national qualifications more readable across Europe, promoting workers' and learners' mobility between countries and facilitating their lifelong learning. From 2012, all new qualifications should bear a reference to the EQF, so that employers and institutions can identify a candidate's skills knowledge, skills or competences.
Find out more about the recognition of academic qualifications - see the 'NARIC' link, within 'Related topics' in the section "Are you a graduate?" and the EQF section on the Europa portal.
Is language a problem?
When looking for a job in another country, speaking the local language is of course an advantage (and sometimes a necessity). Basic English language skills are often highly beneficial. Yet, the required language skills can differ from job to job or country to country and there is no general rule. However, do consider registering for a language course to improve your knowledge or level of proficiency.
- Can I keep my unemployment benefit rights in my country of origin while in another EEA Member State and looking for a job?
If you are currently out of work and you want to look for a job in another EEA country, you may transfer your unemployment benefits for 3 months. However, there are strict rules and conditions concerning the transfer of benefits. Contact your local employment service or the appropriate benefits agency before taking any action.
If you have not found a job after 3 months, you may be asked to leave, though the authorities may be lenient if you can prove that your chances of finding a job are good. The "Living and Working" section on the EURES portal contains further useful information on this.
- What legal documents are usually required to move abroad?
Check well in advance that you have a valid ID card or passport to move within the EEA. Look for clear information on visa and/or work permit requirements if ...
- transitional measures to the right of free movement of workers apply to your country. For more details consult the section "Living & Working" on the EURES portal, or your local EURES Adviser;
- you would like to work outside the EEA (contact the relevant non-EEA member country Embassy in your home country for details of the application process).
- What if I am a non-EU citizen?
The EURES on-line services are freely available for any user with access to the web. If you already live and work in the EEA territory or Switzerland, you can contact a local or regional EURES Adviser to get advice. However, finding a job via EURES does not change the legal obligations and administrative procedures that may apply to non-EU citizens.
If you intend to move from a non-EEA country (except Switzerland) to live and work in the European Economic Area or Switzerland, often your own Ministry of Foreign Affairs can provide you with information on legal requirements to move abroad or refer you to useful information centres.
III. Applying for a job abroad
How to apply?
- Define a career plan
Define a clear career plan, building on your qualifications, abilities and preferences: type of job and company, skills, tasks, and responsibilities you would be willing to take up. To do so, try to make a job matching exercise by using the research engine and/or the keyword search facility in the "EURES search for a job" section of this portal. Compare your profile with job descriptions in the areas you are interested in.
- Targeted job application
Send your application to job vacancies posted on this portal or on other websites, newspapers, magazines, etc. These have information on how to apply and who to contact. Many companies have their own online recruitment sites, where you can sometimes submit an electronic application
- EURES CV on-line
By registering for free with "My EURES" for jobseekers you can create your CV and make it available to registered employers and to EURES Advisers helping employers to find suitable candidates. Contact may also be with either a EURES Adviser who will process the application or, in some cases, the employer directly.
- Spontaneous job application
You can of course prepare and send spontaneous applications as well (remember that many vacancies are not published by the employers). Most graduate websites offer advice and guidance about CVs and spontaneous applications. The most common procedure is to send a targeted CV attached to a cover letter to pre-selected employers.
How to write my Curriculum Vitae?
- Europass CV
It is preferable to use the European CV format, for easier comparability of your qualifications and experience across EEA countries. This CV format is currently available in all EEA languages in the EURES CV on-line and it is suitable for both vocational and academic graduates. The Europass CV gives a clear picture of a candidate’s aptitude and skills across EEA-borders. Please consult the ’Europass’ link, within ’Related Topics’ on the EURES portal for further information.
Recruiters usually read through CVs for a few seconds before making a selection. Keep your CV reader-friendly by using short sentences, positive language, and, where appropriate, technical terms. Remove redundant or repetitive information.
Highlight former responsibilities which could be relevant to the desired job even if your experience is limited. Try to use "active" verbs, demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship when describing your accomplishments and always outline your measurable achievements.
- Factual and comprehensive
Make sure the information you provide is factual, accurate and relevant (e.g. focused on the employers’ needs). Remember that some personal aspects or experiences can add value to your CV - your former student jobs, internships, volunteer or vacation jobs have certainly helped you improve your personal competencies. So make sure you briefly highlight those activities and the skills you have acquired.
Emphasize your academic accomplishments as well as other competencies, in particular if you have no (or poor) professional experience. Ask yourself: "What have I got in my educational path that they haven’t in their country?"
Try to keep your CV to a maximum of 2 pages (employers’ time is precious!). Attach your CV to a cover letter to introduce yourself and your interest in the job. Outline that you can provide additional data upon request.
Write the CV yourself and have it proofread by somebody else before uploading it onto the EURES web portal or mailing it to the employer.
In many countries, it is usual practice to provide references - names and contact details of persons who can give information about the applicant to the employer. Always double-check references and secure permission before providing them.
- Targeted CV versions
Important: adapt your standard CV to the job profile you are interested in. It means that you should emphasise specific qualifications, skills, training or experience with relevance for the selected vacancy.
- Good to know:
- the employers’ websites quite often provide relevant information about the company’s goals and interests;
- some graduate websites and university career centres also offer advice and guidance about CV writing.
How to write my application letter?
Unless specified otherwise in the job vacancy description or a specific application form is required, an application is usually composed of a cover letter and a CV (preferably the Europass CV). The cover letter is the document by which you introduce yourself to the employer and express your interest in the job vacancy.
As with the Curriculum Vitae, the application letter should be short (1 page) and clear. Keep the text simple but objective. Focus on three or four relevant items (see below).
Your text should have around 4 paragraphs, each focusing on a different topic. Example:
1) Express your interest in the job and explain where you learnt of the vacancy;
2) Explain why you are interested in the job and why you think you have the appropriate profile;
3) Highlight one or two personal and professional competencies retrieved from the CV that, in your opinion, could add value to your application;
4) Before completing the letter (e.g. Yours sincerely), express your availability for an interview and the possibility to provide additional information or documents upon request.
What language version to use?
- Unless clearly specified in the vacancy notice, it is preferable to write in the employers’ national language or in the language of the job offer. As said before, in the case of transnational jobs, English is often accepted as the main language of communication (followed by French and German). Contact a EURES Adviser if you need further guidance.
- Provided you know the language of the country where you intend to move to, both the letter and the CV should preferably be written by yourself. If the vacancy requires the knowledge of a specific language, you have then the opportunity to show your language abilities before a possible interview. Always ask for someone to proofread your application before sending it.
- If you write an application in a foreign language, be sure to explain what specific education or qualification terminology means in the language of the employer. If possible describe it with comparable examples from the employers’ country. Contact a EURES Adviser if you need further help.
IV. The selection tests & the interview
Selection tests or official competitions
- Many large firms, international companies or institutions require applicants to complete psychometric and technical assessment tests or examinations before the interview. Many even use assessment centres to judge how potential employees would perform in real life situations. Only candidates short-listed in the initial phase of a competition are admitted to the second phase (usually the interview). When preparing for selection tests look for any available information on the type of tests and practice exercises used by the organisation. Some graduate websites and specialised publications list popular tools and methods.
- Background information
Make sure you are well informed about the company and ready to ask questions about both the company and particular aspects of the job. Compare equivalent qualifications in the employer's country with your own qualifications. Be prepared to reply to questions on your responsibility / technical / management / decision-making skills and how they fit with the job profile.
- Personal competencies
You are likely to be asked to prove your command of the host country language and to illustrate how your skills and attributes fit the job requirements. If you have a poor command of the country's language, show that you are willing to make improvements (possibly attend a language course). Make an effort and use your vocabulary, however limited - show that you can do it and that you do not give up easily!
- Real life scenarios
Before the interview, come up with examples of challenging situations you have been able to manage and be ready to expand on them. Prepare a written version of a "sales talk" to be used to convince the employer that you are the person they are looking for. If it’s a telephone interview, always have this document ready and train yourself to present these arguments clearly.
- Unexpected questions
Don't lose heart when tricky or unexpected questions are asked. Stay calm, take a moment to reply, and above all be honest. If you don't know say so, but explain how you would try to find out the answer or the solution.
- Team work
Highlight your contribution to previous team accomplishments. Leadership, management or social interaction skills should also be mentioned and supported by examples.
- Salary and contractual provisions
Get information on average salary rates paid (gross or/and net) for similar occupation and qualification requirements in the foreign country you intend to move to. Likewise, beware of the contractual arrangements and labour law in force. Consult the "Living and Working" section on the EURES portal for more information. A EURES Adviser can also help you.
Recommended documents to bring to the interview
Several copies of your CV in the employer's language, and possibly also in English.
Photocopies of your graduation certificates, language courses attended or other qualifications.
- Translated diploma(s).
For certain jobs, such as in the public sector, you may need to obtain a certified translation of your qualification, usually available from your educational institute or the relevant ministry. Check with the relevant educational authority in your country.
- Identity documents
Bring a passport or an identity card and possibly also a copy of your birth certificate.
- Health Insurance document
The European Health Insurance Card (or another health insurance document, especially in the case of non-EU citizens) will prove useful abroad, if the interviewer offers you a position on the spot or to cover any unexpected health costs.
- Passport photos
Bring passport photos for easier identification of your CV or any other required formality.
- Recommendation letters
Recommendation letters can set you aside from other candidates. If you have no professional experience, bring an endorsement from your school / university.
V. Moving abroad
Before packing, think about:
- Work contract
Make sure you receive an employment contract (or duly signed letter of commitment) as well as a confirmation of your salary before you leave. Bring copies of any contractual work agreements.
Make duplicate copies of important documents including insurance papers, passport, job contracts, birth certificates, bank cards, etc. Check if your driving licence is valid.
- Language courses
Take a language course, preferably in your future host country's native language or the vehicle language you will be using in your daily activity.
- Other learning opportunities
Get information and possibly apply for relevant postgraduate / conversion courses and training schemes in the EEA (e.g. Social work, teaching, civil service, law, etc). Most graduate sites and your local academic career advice centre (or students' association) will be able to provide suitable information. Find more info in the section "Learning" of the EURES portal.
- Bank accounts
Check how much cash you may need in your future bank account upon entering the country of destination. Take note of your present bank account references. You will need them abroad to make bank transfers.
Do not forget to take a valid health insurance document. Consider also the possibility of taking out travel insurance.
- Accommodation /housing
Look for accommodation options and location prices in your future country of residence (e.g. Internet research, youth hostels associations for temporary accommodation, etc). Also check the requirements and price estimations for moving your possessions.
- Social Security
Contact your social security institution before your departure to obtain necessary information and the required EU forms and/or a European Health Insurance card (for your and your family, if applicable). Inform yourself about country agreements and further formalities for the transfer of social security rights (social benefits, unemployment benefits).
Contact the relevant authorities in your country of origin to get personalised advice on taxation agreements with your country of destination.
As a mobile worker, you and your family have the same rights as national workers. Your family members can accompany you and have the right to work and go to school in your new residence country. EURES can also help you to find a job for your spouse or partner. Contact a EURES Adviser for more information.
- Schooling for children
The best way to learn about schools and the education system in your country of destination is to contact a local EURES Adviser. Search for information in the relevant education authority's website. You can also contact your national education authority and/or the foreign country's embassy to learn more of the education system and equivalent study requirements.
Shortly before leaving...
- Ensure that you legally and properly end any contractual relationships with your service providers: housing, water, gas, phone, internet, TV, etc. You may wish to consider also your bank and insurance companies (generally for very long-term or definite stay in the country of destination).
- Inform your local authority that you are moving abroad if this is a requirement.
- Change your postal address with all institutions or entities you usually deal with.
- Inform the tax and social benefits administrations of your country of origin that you are leaving.
- Valid passport and/or identity card for yourself and your family members.
- Visa for you and/or your family members if you are not EEA nationals (or you intend to move to a country outside the EEA).
VI. Settling in a new country
Even if you have made early inquiries before leaving your country of origin, it can be difficult to find suitable accommodation before you have arrived. If your employer cannot help you, start with a temporary solution and search for permanent housing once you have arrived. Look for information on the legal provisions and the parties' rights and obligations applicable to renting in your new country of residence.
- Legal and administrative formalities
In most cases some of the legal formalities for your registration in the new country will be handled by your new employer (social security registration, tax office registration, etc.). In any case, be aware that you have rights and obligations. Contact a EURES Adviser or the local authorities to find out more.
- Social Security
All social security benefits linked to an employment contract in the country are equally granted to all EU/EEA citizens. Social benefits cover sickness and maternity leave, unemployment and family benefits, accidents at work and occupational diseases, invalidity and old-age pensions.
European countries have concluded bilateral tax agreements to prevent their citizens from paying twice for the same activity or income in another country.
- Registration in the local population office
Register and get an ID card in your new home country.
- Bank account
Open a new bank account and inform your employer (for salary payment purposes).
If you rent or buy a house or also if you become a car owner, it is mandatory to obtain insurance against fire and other hazardous accidents. Get information on recommended insurance companies.
- Education and school for children
Get information on school facilities and entrance requirements for children. National websites, the local authorities or even your employer can help you to find the most suitable school placement for your children.
- Language and/or vocational training
On your own initiative or in accordance with your new employer, it is advantageous to attend tailor-made courses aimed at improving your language proficiency and/or professional skills.
- Local transportation
Upon your arrival, and depending on the distance between your new residence and your workplace, look for the most economic and efficient means of transport available. Consult tickets prices and monthly subscription rates.
- Cultural and leisure facilities
Your employer organisation, your local administration office, your new neighbours and work colleagues as well as national websites can help you to find the most interesting locations and activities in your new place of residence.
Also think about ... the return to your country of origin
- Keep contacts with a network of persons of your country and/or of your profession. Look for advice, possibly with a EURES Adviser, on the best way to emphasise your experiences abroad and start job research early before returning. EURES can also help you to find a professional gateway in your country of origin.
- Do not forget to ask for the European forms well before leaving your country of residence (E205 for the retirement, E301 / E303 for unemployment benefits, the European Health Insurance card, etc.).
Please note: the steps to find a job in your country of origin while you are living and working in a foreign country are to a large extent similar to those applied when you move(d) abroad!
For further information and opportunities to help you manage the transition from student life to professional life abroad, please consult other websites by clicking on "Information and jobs for graduates" in "Related Links".
Last but not least: more than 800 EURES advisers are ready to advise and assist you on all matters related to the European job market. Start by contacting a EURES Adviser in your country of residence. You can find contact details of EURES Advisers by clicking on "Contact a EURES Adviser".
Researchers can benefit from opportunities to study or work in other Member States and benefit from a European Researchers’ Mobility Portal. A new website - EURAXESS - Researchers in motion is now available with a broad range of services. It is a one-stop shop for researchers seeking to advance their careers and personal development by moving to other countries. This free, personalised service is there to provide you with comprehensive, up-to-date information on job vacancies and funding opportunities in every field of study throughout Europe. It also acts as a first port of call on the subject of your rights, as well as those of research and funding institutions, and provides several links to help you both before and after you move. For further information, please refer to "Related topics".
Education and training
The European Commission runs a wide variety of programmes, which provide education and training opportunities throughout Europe to both students and teachers. More information is available within the "Learning" section of this portal. See also "Related links" on this page and the "Education and Training" pages.
Please note that the "Living and Working" section of the EURES portal provides further specifications for individual EURES member countries in the "Hints & Tips" fact sheets section.
You can also find answers to other questions about the European Union and the free movement of citizens to live, study and work in another Member State in the EUROPA portal