5 tips to launch your tech career in Europe

Consider all these factors in any application, and use all the free resources you can to make sure you stand out as a great candidate.

Unlocking tech talent stories

November 29, 2017
Europe is host to a massive technology and entrepreneur market where your skills could be put to their best use. These can help you to find a new and exciting life, and enjoy a new culture. But making the best impression and getting set up is a challenge that many find hard to navigate.

1. The English language unlocks many doors

With London, Berlin, Lisbon and Barcelona among Europe’s tech hot spots, being able to speak English is essential, or will help in most countries you land in. Wherever you move to, having already mastered the basics of English is vital, especially in terms of work and your role.

Learning the basics of the local language may also help your case and demonstrate your commitment to a trans-continental move. But in many tech companies, even if you’re native in the local language, great English skills are normally a must-have. It is is the language you’re probably going to use in the recruitment process and daily work with colleagues and clients.

If you feel your English needs some improvement, we suggest you practice using online courses. Watch talks and read speeches or articles in your subject areas, and read everything you can about European business practices in general.

2. Have a stellar CV

While many people in technology are hired based on experience or demonstrated ability, a good CV or resume remains a vital tool for getting noticed. Focus on work achievements and only your latest educational record, and differentiate yourself with any side-projects you may have worked on.

In the European Union, the Europass CV was used by many, but being generic and with all those CVs looking alike to recruiters, you may want to avoid it. Other ideas to definitely pass on include exporting your LinkedIn profile as a PDF as these are ugly. Avoid overly-designer CVs, tread the line between too much white space and too much irrelevant information.

Instead, you could use our tech CV template, created by our community of users including recruiters and experienced tech professionals, as their ideal vision of a good CV. Whatever your role or specialism, you should also be able to communicate your technical knowledge in a language that will prove your expertise if a CTO reads it, while being clear enough if someone less-technical sees it. When filling out out the CV and writing your covering letter, consider these points.

3. Get to know your target market and destination

Europe varies wildly, often from city to city within the same country, never mind radical changes in culture and regulations across neighbouring borders. Do your research and planning to find out how salaries (we have a free download) and expenses differ.

Pick a couple of target cities and calculate the differences in earnings and the cost of living. London offers high wages but exorbitant rents and prices, while others have various benefits, but are perhaps less glamorous, depending on your personal preference. What do you value the most?

Don’t put all your hopes on one job, one destination and that one little flat by the local river. Build a range of acceptable destinations and focus on the right jobs within those areas.

4. Which brings us to the big question, which city or country?

Most tech workers can be successful pretty much anywhere, yet some cities or countries favour a particular type of industry. Automotive technology is centered around Germany, while London remains a massive banking opportunity.

You can use tools like Numbeo to establish a rough cost of living for your desired location, or build a spreadsheet tool and factor in every cost. But, there are plenty of secondary factors to consider. For a start, there’s the local culture. Most European cities and incredibly diverse and make a welcoming home for all. Even so, are your specific needs met?

When it comes to the practicalities, check the seasonal weather, access to local travel and transport, to ensure you can remain mobile and not snowed-in for months of the year. Southern Europe has great weather, but you may sacrifice wages and further opportunities there.

To start building a new social circle, check if there are representative organisations (cultural groups or agencies) from your country in the city. Check if the company you plan to work for has people from your country (LinkedIn is often useful for this).

5. Visa and citizenship issues

The EU is one of the most tolerant and welcoming business opportunities on the planet. Even so, there are some areas that are more welcoming than others. Germany and Ireland are beacons of multiculturalism and opportunity, providing more Blue Cards than most.

Even so, there’s the thorny issue of residency rules and regulations. Your target company may need to hire an EU worker, or may not want to risk a long distance migrant, so being on the ground is to your advantage. Many will also offer visa support to help get you permanent residency, we have 100+ roles that come with such support.

Thanks to historical emigration, some career-seekers may be able to gain dual-citizenship thanks to grandparents or great-grandparents. Whatever the obstacle, there are plenty of ways to approach and address any visa issue. Be aware that Europe’s immigration system is heavily overloaded and applications can take some time.

Consider all these factors in any application, and use all the free resources you can to make sure you stand out as a great candidate. 🚀

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