Gaining new skills, broadening your horizons, getting a foreign language up to scratch, building your self-confidence – we can’t repeat it enough, working abroad is an enhancing experience from every point of view and everyone can do it!
Free to work anywhere in Europe…
You can work in any country in the European Union and also in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. You don’t need a work permit, you just have to want to do it. The principle of free movement of people, introduced by the Treaty on European Union, guarantees you the same conditions of work and the same social and fiscal advantages as the inhabitants of the host country.
- Anybody who wants to live in a European country for a short or longer term period in order to work
- Under certain conditions, jobseekers can ask for their rights to be transferred in order to find a job within the European Union and the European Economic Area.
You have to know the language of the country in which you want to work.
How to go about it
- Find out about your country of destination, its culture, lifestyle, the economic situation, the job market and the working conditions and recruitment methods. You will find this information on the websites of embassies, specialised directories, your job centre, the website of the European network for public services and jobs: EURES, etc.
- Get your qualifications and diplomas recognised
Some professions are regulated, others aren’t. Find out if yours is and contact the NARIC centre, (National Recognition Information Centre for academic and professional recognition of diplomas) in the host country.
- Define your project, draw up your CV and letters of motivation in the country’s language. Think about using the European CV on the Europass website.
- Consult job offers in the online newspapers of your country of destination and its job offer websites.
You can sign on free of charge on « My EURES » if you are a jobseeker. You can write your own CV and make it accessible for registered employers and EURES counsellors who help employers searching for applicants. You can also receive job offers by e-mail that correspond to your profile. Eures is a European public service network and proposes more than 1,250,000 offers updated in real-time.
- Be prepared for your employment interviews in the country’s language.
- You are hired: the European directives make it compulsory to have a written contract which describes the job and working conditions. This contract is subject to the legislation of the host country.
- Contact a Eures counsellor in UK or the country of your destination. You will be given information about the legal, administrative and practical aspects of looking for a job abroad.
- Make sure you have a work contract in due form and check out the terms and conditions.
Tool: the professional mobility card
The aim behind the future European Professional Card (EPC) is to foster the mobility of workers within the European Union. It should:
- Simplify recognition of professional qualifications
- Improve procedural efficiency for professionals wishing to practise a profession which is regulated in other Member States
- Reinforce security by identifying individuals who are prohibited from professional practice in their country of origin
- Provide access to electronic procedures (“electronic certification”).
Several professions (doctors, nurses, engineers, mountain guides and physiotherapists) have already shown an interest in the EPC and have been involved in work groups. Two themes are currently under discussion: creating a professional card for real estate agents and developments in regulations for pharmacists.
Summer jobs, seasonal work, au-pairing etc.
You can also find a summer job or a seasonal job as long as you are over 18. Once you have found a job, you still have to be careful. Make sure you have a written work contract. On the other hand, speaking the country’s language fluently is not usually essential.
Sectors likely to be looking for seasonal workers include the hotel business, catering and agriculture (seasonal harvests, grape picking).
There are several methods of finding the right job for you:
- Look by yourself
- Go through language-learning organisations that also offer seasonal work, for example
- Think about Spanish companies set up abroad
- Consults directories at the Chamber of Commerce
- Don’t forget to find out about any opportunities offered through twinned towns. Under certain conditions, you can obtain a grant to go and stay in towns which are twinned with your own.
- You can also consult forums.
- Have you heard about « WWOOFing« ? (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). This is another original way of working abroad, especially if you are into ecology and organic agriculture. For example, you stay at an organic farm, sharing the everyday life of its owners.
Working as an au-pair
This is an excellent way to immerse yourself culturally and a tried and tested means of improving your language skills at very little cost. Apart from looking after children and doing household chores, your timetable is often designed so that you can follow language classes at a local university.
Age conditions and administrative requirements vary from one country to another, as does the legal duration of employment. In Europe, you can start at the age of 17 and you work for an average of 30 hours a week, whereas in the USA, you have to be over 18 and add another 15 hours a week to your timetable.
Finding somewhere to stay
You can look by yourself. There are websites which aim to put applicants in contact with families who are looking for a young au-pair.
In this case, it’s up to you to make sure that your contact is reliable, read the terms of the contract very carefully and look into the working conditions.
If you prefer a structured framework, there are several organisations that place young au-pairs. You have to pay for these services and what they offer varies from one to the next. The prices cover a subscription, administrative costs and compulsory insurance guaranteeing au-pairs civil liability. Sometimes, the price of your return journey is included.
If you want to be sure that the services are reliable, you should preferably contact an approved organisation.