How to Work in Europe as An American

Moving to Europe is a thrilling fantasy for many North Americans. However, just as many are left confused about how to work in Europe as an American.

There’s no doubt that Europe is an amazing continent full of great sights, food, and culture but there can sometimes be a little paperwork and research necessary to make the dream of moving to Europe a reality.

Don’t panic, though. In many cases, a move to Europe for work can be made easily with almost no fuss. In this article you’ll learn what steps you need to take so you know how to get a job in Europe easily and enjoy its lifestyle and society to the full.

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But first things, first.

Before you start applying for jobs in Europe, start by getting your resume in shape. There are a few differences found on European resumes compared with US versions.

Let’s take a look at some of the variations you may come across.

How Should I Format My Resume to Fit My European Job Search?

One of the first things to consider on your European job search is to get your resume properly optimized. The resume format in Europe is not completely different but, of course, it will vary a little depending on the type of job you’re targeting.

The biggest difference is the need for a photo on your resume. This is a necessary requirement in almost all European countries. The only exceptions to this are the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands, and Sweden.

Another interesting difference between European and American resumes is the length. European resumes are normally limited to 2-4 pages, with a single page being the preference.

The tone in Europe is also a little more informal compared to the USA, as it is possible to use a slightly friendlier tone of voice on your resume whilst still keeping it a little formal. Additionally, personal details that would normally be left out on a US Resume such as gender and marital status are ok to include on a European Curriculum Vitae (CV).

How Can I find a Job in Europe?

You might be wondering what job opportunities exist in Europe for US citizens. Luckily there are many exciting avenues you can explore on your European job search.

Of course English is a desirable business language and the rise of the digital economy in Europe means the most popular jobs for Americans in Europe are related to these industries. Positions such as English Teacher and IT Technician are commonly sought after by European companies.

Job searching in the EU and Europe, in general, is quite similar to the US with most applications being made online via job websites. You will be required to register, complete any questionnaires that are necessary, attach your resume and maybe a cover letter too.

The Best Sites to Find Jobs in Europe

Like in the US, many Europeans use LinkedIn to browse positions in their local area. However, there are a few providers out there who are tailored to American expats. The best sites for finding a job in Europe include:

  • LinkedIn
  • Monster Worldwide
  • Go Abroad
  • Eurojobs
  • CareerJet
  • Going Global

Alternatively, you could be lucky enough to be working in an international company and able to request a transfer to one of its foreign offices in Europe. This is probably one of the most straightforward ways to live and work abroad in the EU and around the continent. In this situation, your company HR department will probably take care of most of the paperwork for you. It’s a win-win!

If you’d rather move to Europe independently and aren’t sure what you’ll need to do to get jobs, keep reading. What follows is a step-by-step guide on how to get all the required documentation to find employment in Europe when you are a US national.

What are the Visa Requirements to Work in Europe?

The key thing that Americans arriving in Europe will need before they land is a valid Schengen visa (which is applicable in 26 EU countries), or a visa for the non-Schengen country that they’ll be living in. In many of the Schengen countries, you can arrive and look for jobs straight away, or if you prefer to, apply for positions before you leave the US.

There isn’t a universal work permit for the entire EU at present. While every member country follows a fairly standard application procedure each can set its own rules and stipulations for granting work permits. US citizens aren’t required to have a work permit on arrival in the Schengen countries of the European Union. You can wait to apply for once you’ve got to the country you’ve decided to work in.

What Do I Need when Applying for a European Work Permit?

Every country has its own rules for foreigners working within its borders. Nevertheless, the following items will be expected in almost all European nations.

    • A completed application form and one photocopy
    • Two identical photos of you
    • A valid passport (with over 6 months remaining validity)
    • A return flight reservation to your home country
    • Medical insurance
    • Proof of accommodation
    • An employment contract
    • Proof of any academic qualifications
    • Any proof of language knowledge

Be aware, however, there are different rules for those arriving in the UK, Ireland and other non-Schengen countries. Some can apply much stricter controls. The UK, for instance, requires you must have a job in place and a valid UK work visa before you’ve even set foot in the country.

On the other hand, if you are a dual citizen of a European country, congratulations! You will be able to look for jobs and work right away without much in the way of additional red tape.

What Are the Most Popular Countries for Americans Working in Europe?

Europe is diverse. It is full of different languages, lifestyles, and landscapes. Each of its countries has its own unique appeal and, unsurprisingly, some are more alluring to Americans than others. The most popular places for Americans in Europe seem to be:

  • Spain
  • France
  • Portugal
  • The Netherlands
  • The United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Greece
  • Italy

Working in Europe Checklist

Let’s make sure you are clear on everything you are going to need to embark on your professional European adventure:

  • A valid visa for the country you’ll be living in or European passport
  • Appropriate foreign language skills
  • A fully optimized resume for the European job market
  • A little research on the countries and jobs that you’re interested in

Living overseas for work is a unique experience and Europe is one of the best places to live that life. All it takes is a little planning, paperwork, and a well-prepared resume.