Applying for jobs in Germany, France or Italy?
The process is slightly different for each country and this article published in Guardian Professional explains how to best meet the different criteria for each country.
Emplois and Beschäftigung: job applications in Europe
As summer comes to an end, you could be forgiven for wanting to take your career to fairer isles.
But how should you adapt your CV and covering letter for Europe?
by Nannette Ripmeester of Guardian Professional, Monday 16 September 2013
Ever thought of packing your bags and looking for a job in Europe? How difficult would it be as an English speaker? How do the job markets work on the continent?
Whether it's Joe Bloggs, José Blogas or Guiseppe Bloggio, your chances of getting a job are almost always better if you can speak (and possibly write) in the native language. But – though many forget it – the cultural adaptation of your application letter and CV is also crucial.
Employers in France often value an unsolicited application, as it indicates you are resourceful and take initiative. In Germany meanwhile, this kind of initiative will usually be frowned upon. So, how do you know what works where?
The vast majority of job advertisements ask you to send a letter with your CV to describe your main ambitions and interests regarding the job. This is the best chance you have to set yourself apart in the selection process. Your covering letter should reflect your personality and working style, and give them an impression of how you'll come across at interview.
Mentioning how you heard of the role often underlines your motivation and character. You could explain this before even mentioning why the job interests you. Is it a specific field, a new challenge, or just personally interesting? If you don't sound convincing when you say you want the job, you won't be hired.
The cover letter should also highlight why you are the ideal candidate for the role. Typical reasons may include: your suitability to the role, your personal attributes, a keen interest in the field, the opportunity for personal development. You should try to put across how you can take on the tasks involved in the job, and what you can do that sets you apart from other candidates.
Germany: be precise
In Germany, your application letter should be a clear add-on to your CV, so take care to avoid repetition. Make sure you include the salary range you expect to start earning for the job you are applying to and your prospective starting date.
Your CV needs to be detailed, not leaving any information out. The CV should be in reverse chronological order, listing the most recent activities first, and be meticulous in making sure the chronological order is accurate. Furthermore, you need to date and sign each CV that you send out – never just fold your letter and CV and put it in an envelope. Germans use an application folder called a BewerbungsMappe for sending a full and complete CV to their prospective employer – this can be 15 pages long. Remember: 'gründlich und pünktlich' (accurate and precise). These are German words that describe the application process best.
France: be philosophical
In France, handwritten application letters are not uncommon as graphology is still used. Though this is not the main means of selecting a suitable candidate, it's worth bearing in mind. Ensure your CV has a 'projet professionnel' – a brief description of where you see yourself in 5 to 7 years' time. This is more elaborate than a British career objective, spanning a larger time span, and should take a maximum of 10 lines.
Italy: la dolce vita
Even though the Italian job market is offering fewer opportunities than others like Germany, this doesn't mean there are no jobs. Be aware of the regional differences, however. In northern Italy there are more offers and job openings, certainly in the commercial sector, for example.
To be successful on the Italian job market you often need to have that exact bit of niche knowledge they are looking for. Your covering letter is only your entry ticket to the interview - the job interview is of eminent importance too as your motivation is best explained verbally. Be ready for some shameless self-promotion.
Wherever you plan to live and work in Europe, always remember to maintain professional integrity and, above all, keep your chin up. The job market can be hard enough in your own country, never mind the complications which looking for work abroad can bring. Use the fact that you are foreign as a strength rather than a weakness. It takes a certain type of person to take the leap and go job hunting abroad – bear that in mind when it seems things aren't going your way and keep sending off your applications.
Nannette Ripmeester is the founder of Expertise in Labour Mobility.