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Work in Europe


The European labor market contains some unexpected hurdles, as national differences between the countries of Europe manifest themselves not only in different languages but also in different recruitment practices. To demonstrate the differences between countries this article will focus on job-hunting in France, Spain and Italy.

Applications across Europe

Working in Europe can be an exciting adventure. However, you are bound to come across some unexpected differences. For instance, in Europe, instead of a resume, you will be expected to submit a Curriculum Vitae, or CV. While resumes are a reflection of your main accomplishments only, European CVs are detailed accounts of your education and work experience to date.

Looking for work in another country entails more than writing your resume or CV in another language. Remember that no matter in what country you are looking for work, the key element of your resume or CV is to persuade the employer to invite you for a job interview. Keep reading for country-specific tips on how to go about your job search in Europe.

Job-hunting in France

Do not send in a typed application letter! The French use graphology as a means of selection in the application process. This means that you should type your CV but handwrite you application letter.

Newspapers are a main source of job adverts;

  1. Le Figaro on Monday
  2. Le Monde's Initiative supplement on Wednesday
  3. Le Figaro and France Soir for technical jobs
  4. Les Echos, Enterprises et Carri'res, INVESTIR, and Le Monde for administrative, financial and management jobs
A French application

Tips for a successful application

  • Your CV should be in either reversed chronological order (listing your most recent experience first) or functional (activities grouped thematically).
  • Your CV should be brief, two pages at the most. Often a photo will be attached.
  • Your personal details include; your name, address and telephone number with international access code, your nationality, your civil status, your age and your place of birth.
  • Mention only your highest education but be specific in job-experience and responsibilities. Language skills should be described in detail and hobbies may be added.
  • A handwritten application letter of about 15 to 20 lines, focusing on your most recent activities and demonstrating with examples why you are the right person for the job.
  • References and copies of diplomas are not included, however they should be brought to the application interview.

Job-hunting in Spain

Do not mention your salary first. It is customary to discuss payment after you have been hired. If you tackle the subject first, you will seem very rude.

The main newspapers publish Sunday supplements with major vacancy overviews:

  1. El Pa's issues "Negocios"
  2. El Mundo issues "Su Dinero"
  3. El ABC issues "Nuevo Trabajo"
  4. Regional papers are extremely important in their respective areas:
  5. La Vanguardia in Catalonia
  6. La Gaceta del Nortein Bilbao
  7. Segunda Mano in the Madrid region
Helpful Tip
  • Use your personal contacts: You can use a temporary job, a summer job or an internship as a stepping stone on your way to a permanent job. Your first job provides you with the right contacts for your second job – that’s the way it works in Spain!
A Spanish application
  • Send in your CV, a typed application letter, a recent photo, translated copies of your qualifications and copies of your diplomas.
  • Your CV should be well-structured and no longer then two pages, but there are no strict rules.
  • Under personal details you are required to mention you passport or ID number.
  • The application letter should be short and direct. The letterhead refers to the number of the vacancy.
  • The letter contains a reference to the vacancy in the first paragraph, in the second paragraph you mention your education and job-experience and you end the letter with a standard sentence such as "En espera de sus noticias, les saluda atentamente".

Job-hunting in Italy

Make sure your shoes and your bag match! This is not a joke; Italians feel that detailed care of how you look reflects how you work. If you are up-to-date in fashion, you are most likely to be up-to-date in your work as well.

Italian newspapers are a good source of information regarding vacancies and employers recruiting at that moment. On either Thursdays or Fridays the next papers carry extensive job advert supplements:

  1. Il Corriere della Sera
  2. La Repubblic
  3. Il Giornale
  4. La Stampa

The Monday edition of the financial magazine 'Il Sole-24 Ore' is also useful in this respect.

Helpful Tips
  • Speculative applications are very common. Use a very formal style for your letter and include impressive references with your open application.
  • Personal contacts are the best way to a job. An introduction of a well-known person will be very effective, because in Italy the emphasis is more on whom you know, than on what you know (although as a foreign job seeker the right qualifications are essential, even if you have some distant Italian relatives).
An Italian application
  • The application should consist of a typed CV and a short typed letter.
  • The CV should be in chronological order and about two pages long.
  • Your personal details should include your date and place of birth, your nationality, your telephone number and your civil status.
  • The style of the letter is stately and official. Explain briefly why you want the job, they will ask more in-depth questions during the interview.
  • Three or four interviews are not uncommon and you should bring copies of references and diplomas to the first interview.

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