Whether it’s wanderlust or simply better career opportunities in your field in another country, the first step to living abroad is applying for a suitable job. In doing so, it is not only necessary to overcome language barriers, but also to take cultural differences into account. A simple translation of the existing documents is therefore not enough. How does the application process in Italy, Spain, or Poland, for example, differ from the same process in Germany? The so-called Europass can also help. We will go into more detail on that at the end.
Many similarities, but also significant differences
Depending on the country, the expectations, and standards, but also the legal requirements for an application can be very different. The cover letter and CV (Curriculum Vitae) are always included in one form or another. The application photo, on the other hand, is practically a must in some countries, but in others, it is rejected on principle because the applicable anti-discrimination and data protection laws make restrictions necessary.
General tips for applying abroad
Apart from country-specific features, there are some things you should always keep in mind when applying for a job abroad. These include, for example, regional differences within a language. Not all regions in Spain speak the same language, the British use different terminology than Americans, Australians, or Canadians. But even in the German-speaking world, things are not completely uniform. Even small things can cost you sympathy points if you stubbornly insist on the local spelling. In the DACH region, for example, you should pay attention to the omission of a comma after the form of address in Swiss or use the correct month name “Jänner” instead of “Januar” in Austrian.
The “ß” is also a phenomenon that only occurs in the Federal Republic and in Austria. In all other cases, it should be replaced by “ss”, as this special character is often interpreted as a strange “B” in other countries. Umlauts should also be written out as “ae”, “oe”, “ue” if they do not occur in the national language.
The same applies to the spelling of the date, which varies greatly in the order of the day, month, and year. A quick Google search, for example, “date format France”, will usually help you here.
First, however, you should find out which language you should be applying in. What does the job advertisement say? Is it actively looking for employees abroad? Should you explicitly apply in German or English? Especially in the IT sector, language skills are often less relevant than the desired professional skills. If there is no direct customer contact, specialists who can only communicate with their colleagues in English are often hired. Companies are often looking specifically for German-speaking employees to take care of German customers, for example at popular holiday destinations. In most cases, however, good language skills are a prerequisite for working abroad.
The Europass not only makes international applications easier
The Europass is a European Union project that aims to make it easier for students and job seekers to apply for jobs in different European countries.
In addition, users can deposit their application documents and other details about their education online and use the EURES job search service. CVs and cover letters can be created directly in the tool and edited online. If required, all documents can also be saved as PDF files. Incidentally, the Europass of the European Union can be used free of charge and is not only accepted by the 27 EU member states, but also by Great Britain, the members of the European Free Trade Association, Turkey, and some other countries.
Applying in Spain, Italy, and France
These three countries have one thing in common: documents in the respective national language are expected and preferred. Compared to Germany, application portfolios in the western part of the EU also tend to have a minimalist structure. Apart from the cover letter and the CV, no other documents are usually enclosed. Certificates or references are only sent if expressly requested. However, these should then be enclosed as copies, as the application portfolio is often not returned. If necessary, certified translations will be made. A photo is also not customary in any of these three countries.
A special feature of the Italian application process is that it requires significantly more exchange. Not only in the job search are relationships and personal exchanges essential, but also after the application documents have been sent, you should regularly pick up the phone and inquire about the status of the selection process.
In France, application documents are not sent in a folder, a large envelope is sufficient – it is important that high-quality paper is used.
Application in Poland and the Czech Republic
As in Spain, Italy and France, no further attachments are enclosed with the application. In Poland, as in the Czech Republic, certificates and references are brought to the interview, preferably as originals and as copies.
The Czech CV is structured similarly to the German CV. However, references with contact details of previous employers are mentioned at the end of the document. In Poland, too, it is not unusual to give references, and the CV is also dated and signed, as in Germany. Hobbies do not belong on the CVs of our eastern neighbours, but social commitment and voluntary work are welcome.
In the Czech Republic, in particular, applicants may be asked for a health certificate, which would be an absolute no-go in Germany. In some cases, psychological tests are also used during personal interviews.