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How about working in Europe ?

One effect of the financial crisis in the US and the devastated employment market is that highly qualified professionals from the US are looking at job opportunities in Europe. Mobile specialists and experts have the flexibility to consider a move to Europe. But the biggest concern is whether it’s possible to find work in a the new host country. There are a few things to consider about working in Europe.

The Language
The EU now encompasses a dozen different languages. If you move to an English speaking country like England or Ireland, your adjustment will the easiest. A native English speaker must nonetheless adjust to things like different tax systems and social norms. Non-EU nationals may obtain the right to work in an EU country. The ease of doing so depends on nationality and status and is determined by different agreements and other EU rules.

Background – Are you in IT or Some Sort of Academic Research?
The IT field is in demand and one can find work fairly easily, even without the native language. Many tech positions in Germany and Switzerland require only English.
If one speaks English and has the required competencies, one will have a good chance of finding work in Europe.

If you’re from an academic research background, this also helps. English is usually the international work language for research in academic situations and you can adjust fairly well.

Background – Business an Advantage
More and more companies have English as their company language. If you have a background in business or a related degree, you will have a greater chance of finding employment. However, most often, in Germany, in Switzerland, in France, in Italy, even in Austria or Scandinavia, you will be expected to eventually learn the language. Even if English is the official company language, people do speak the local language and you will need to fit in as well as succeed in the long term in your job. This is likely to be a major challenge, if not the major challenge: learning a language takes time, commitment and discipline.

High Competition
If you are not from an IT, Scientific / Academic, or Business background, and do not have a specialized education, you will encounter very high competition for jobs, even with a mastery of the language.
Europe has many immigrants, and they are competing for the same jobs.

The ‘English Teacher’ Fallback
Many native English speakers think they can rely on being an English teacher as a fallback. This is not really an option, unless you are prepared to live like a student.
Finding decently remunerated work as an English teacher will usually require your having important credentials in this area.

All citizens of the EU, plus Switzerland, have the right to move all around and work anywhere in the European Community that they want. (It’s not too clear what Switzerland had to gain in this arrangement since it has the highest standard of living, so the only Swiss considering leaving Switzerland to seek jobs in the EU are the ones on unemployment.)

However, when an American, Canadian or a New Zealander come to Europe to find work, he has to find an employer that will sponsor his work permit. The first few months while he’s going through that job hunting process, he may have to work “black,” meaning he may have difficulty getting paid because his work and residency in the country have not yet been approved.

Getting a work permit is a constant topic of conversion among the expatriate crowds in Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Zurich, Geneva, Paris, and Barcelona. The exchange of visa horror stories and grand schemes of getting away with overstaying – everyone has a nightmare story of being escorted to the border by the immigration authorities. Some contemplate proposing marriage to the random attractive native they met at a bar the week before, others gave up and return to their home country, and still others persevere and deal with the process and the paperwork.

Acquiring a work permit in Europe is a challenge but a good skill set, perseverance and some personality will help you do the trick.

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