[The tips in this post are aimed at Americans wanting to work in Europe, but most of the information is valid for those of other nationalities, as well.]
So you want to get a job in Europe, but you have no idea how to go about such a thing? It might be easier than you think. First of all, it helps a lot to have some sort of special skills, since an employer will probably need to be able to justify why you, a foreigner, were the best applicant for the job. Lucky for you, fluent English can count as this needed special skill for a variety of positions. Obviously, specialized and advanced degrees can help too, as can relevant job experience. What you don’t necessarily need is a pre-existing work permit, company connections, or foreign language knowledge.
Got marketable skills? Good. No more excuses – now polish up your resume and get searching. Here are some suggestions to get you going:
Open your mind wide. I know, this is the cheesiest job-searching tip ever, but I’m telling you the number one reason people fail to land fabulous jobs abroad is a closed mind. Sure, maybe you’ll be able to land job X at company Y in country Z, but the narrower your target, the narrower your chances. Instead, try to focus on all the different ways this could work out for you. Spend time brainstorming about the types of positions and companies that would interest you. Be willing to browse through job listings for things you aren’t sure about at first. Ask yourself whether your self-set criteria are necessary, and be open to considering changes. OK, now on to the more concrete stuff…
Online networking. Sign yourself up for LinkedIn, Facebook and whatever other sites you can stand. Connect with as many folks as possible. Poke around to see who they know in the countries or companies you are interested in. You never know which long-lost high school friend may have ended up as a hiring manager in Paris.
Monster.countryofyourchoice. Monster.com has sites set up specifically for many different countries, including at least 20 in Europe. This can be a good starting point to browse the local offerings and get a feel for what companies are hiring. If you don’t know where to start your search, go with the keyword “English” (and/or the word for English in the local language, if you speak it).
Multinational corporations. In my experience, larger companies are less likely to balk at a foreign hire who will need a little paperwork filed for a work permit. Plus many of them use English as their official language even in non-English-speaking countries, so these are a good target if you don’t happen to speak other local languages. Check out company home pages, which these days usually offer a list of open positions searchable by location.
Universities, NGOs, and non-profits. Idealist.org does have some international job listings, but you are most likely to find these types of jobs on the websites of the entities themselves.
Internal transfers. Does your current company have any European offices? See if they’ll hook you up with an expat gig.
Expat websites. Many countries and major cities in Europe have one or more websites where expats gather virtually to share information and socialize. Employment is a topic that comes up often on these. Poke around for helpful information.
If you have a job in Europe, how did you find it?