What to find out and how when applying for jobs in Europe.
When applying for any job it’s important to understand the relevant hiring practices. What to put on a CV, how to lay it out, what employers are looking for. When applying for a job in another country it becomes even more important. Everything you think you thought you knew might be completely wrong when applied to a different country. Or it might not. How do you know? Well, you need to find out.
Differences in CVs and applications
CV format can vary a lot between countries. In Germany and some other countries in Europe, it is expected that you include a picture with your CV. In the UK, it’s definitely not and can be seen in a negative light. Instead, use the space to showcase other skills or attributes the employer is looking for. Even the name can vary between countries in Europe. In Germany you need a “Lebenslauf”. It’s shorter than in other countries (normally one page) and it’s far more factual – a list of roles, dates and achievements. In the UK non-academic CV s tend to work best when limited to 2 pages, and include a mixture of technical and personal skills. Academic CVs can be longer. In Germany you’ll also need to send other documentation with your application, such as copies of your qualifications and proof of your right to work in Germany. In the UK for example, these will normally be checked when you attend an interview. A small difference perhaps, but if you don’t include what they ask for, or expect, you’re not going to get the job.
Where to find info
The academic community is diverse. Nearly 30% of research academics in UK universities are non-UK EU nationals*. Learn from the experience of others who have moved away from their home country. Most European countries now have communities of people living and working there, who are native of other countries. Many of these communities are represented in discussion forums online, or can be reached through twitter and other social media. So why not use them to find out what you need to know before you start applying for jobs in Europe? You may also have international students or colleagues at your university. If you’re thinking of moving to their home country seek help or advice from them. Even if they haven’t applied for roles back home for a while, they will still have strong networks you can seek to use to gain the information you need. In addition to information about applying for roles, they can of course also tell you what you need to know about living there too. Is it going to be what you expect?
Reach out to people – your professional network.
You have a large professional network. No really, you do. Think about all the people you have met during your undergraduate degree, your PhD (if you’ve done one) and any subsequent employment since. Where are they now, what are they doing? Have they moved countries? What can you learn from their experience of doing that? Find out if they are willing to share their experience and their contacts in those countries as you plan your move. Searching on LinkedIn via the “school” (university) option and by your degree subject can be a great way to find people who have made a move overseas who you haven’t spoken to for a while.
Many professional bodies also have networks in different countries. If you have joined one, and you really should, find out what networks they have in Europe and make contact with them before you go. They can be a great source of information before you go, and once you have moved. You’ll already have at least one thing in common with them, so they can help you build new networks in your destination country.
Going for a research position?
Be really clear about how the move will help your career. For UK academic positions being able to show that you have moved between research groups and countries was seen as a good thing. As competition for these roles has continued to increase though, more emphasis is now being put on your publication record. Consider how this might impact on your decision to go abroad. Will moving countries and getting used to a new country or language affect your ability to hit the ground running and maximise your publication record? Or will moving to a new group and being exposed to new ideas open up new avenues to explore in your research and refresh your appetite for research? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but you need to consider them as you weigh up your options for changing countries. Applications for research and teaching positions are mainly judged on your publication record. How will moving to a new university or even country help with that?
And don’t forget…
All the things you take for granted in your home country. Healthcare, opening a bank account, finding somewhere to live, packing and shipping your stuff, getting stuck into the new community you’ve moved to, and another 101 things you need to sort before you go. Create a check list before you go, to make the move go smoothly and put your mind at ease. Bon Voyage!
Sources of information:
The government website for your destination country.