How to Work in Europe as an American – There are many reasons to consider working in European countries as being ideal from a lifestyle perspective. Americans who choose to work in Europe enjoy paid vacation time, affordable healthcare, strong employment rights, and protections against workplace discrimination. Still, keep in mind that finding viable work opportunities in the competitive European job markets may be a huge challenge when moving to Europe, a fascinating continent of nearly 50 countries and even more spoken languages.
Having lived and worked in Europe ourselves and assisted tons of Americans looking to move to Europe, we at Expat Empire have put together these answers to some of the most mind-boggling questions you have about making your move.
Is It Difficult for Americans to Get Jobs in Europe?
Although it may seem pretty intimidating, getting a job in Europe isn’t as hard as you think. Due to the risk involved, local employers will generally prefer local workers over foreigners. It’s a good idea to focus your job search by looking for talent shortages. Fortunately, many European countries publicize talent shortages on their official websites, giving you a great place to start. The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) lists emerging skills and employment trends.
In general, you will want to leverage your knowledge of your line of work in the US as well as your native American English as valuable assets for European companies. Depending on your skill set and experience, you may have plenty of work opportunities to choose from.
How Do You Bring Your Resume/CV Up to European Standards?
The format of the resume, or curriculum vitae (CV), in Europe isn’t entirely different from the American standards and, naturally, the job you are targeting will also influence the way it’s arranged. European and American resumes are generally limited to 2 to 4 pages, with a single page being the preference. You must also note that the lengths of paper for the US and Europe are different – the US uses 8″x11″ pages while Europe uses A4 pages (21cm by 29.7cm or 8.3”x11.7”). In the past, employers in almost every country in Europe required a photo on your resume, but this practice is fading away although it’s a good call to double-check for the precise country. For instance, companies in Spain, Portugal, and Greece may require a recent photo, but their counterparts in the UK, Sweden, Netherlands, and Ireland generally do not.
Most European nations also demand a cover letter outlining your professional objectives, credentials, and the kind of position you seek. A European resume must also have your work experience in reverse chronological order but only include hobbies or other interests if they connect with your profession. European resumes also have a reader-friendly style, such as using bullet points when listing job duties or emphasizing important information. That said, each country has its norms concerning the amount of personal information to include. This is why working with a local recruiting company or experienced expats will guide you toward the work and hiring culture of that specific country.
What are the Visa Requirements for Americans to Work in Europe?
As a US citizen, you do not have an automatic right to work in Europe. You need a valid Schengen work visa or a work visa for a specific non-Schengen country. Many Americans looking to work in Europe will use their 90 days per 180 days visa-free period to apply for jobs before obtaining a work visa. Some countries, such as Germany, have various job-seeker visas, which allow you to stay in the country for up to six months with the promise of obtaining a work contract on the condition that you leave the country at the end of the period if you’re unable to find an employer.
Keep in mind that there isn’t a universal work visa for the entire European Union. Every country also has its own employment laws, rights granted to non-EU citizens, and stipulations for granting residence permits based on work visas. Every European country has its unique permit process to work in Europe. However, your process will likely involve most of the following documentation:
- Proof of accommodation (rental lease or proof of real estate purchase)
- Verifiable employment contract with a local company
- Proof of language proficiency (usually up to B1 language standards, unless the company primarily uses English as their language for communication)
- Travel medical insurance covering at least six months after arriving
Should I Immigrate to Europe Without a Job Offer?
While it is possible to immigrate to some European countries without a job offer, it’s generally not a good idea to assume it’s within your rights. For instance, Germany may allow U.S. citizens to enter without a visa and apply for a German work permit when they arrive. However, most other European countries require that you apply for a work visa through the country’s US consulates or embassy before arriving.
Many Americans make exploratory trips to Europe before moving in order to network, interview, obtain a contracted job, find an apartment and sign a lease, set up a bank account, and complete other prerequisites. These can all be accomplished during the 90 days within a 180-day visa-free period that Americans are entitled to. Keep in mind that the visa process may take many months, so it’s best to apply from a consulate in your country of residence.
What Jobs Can Americans Do in Europe?
Like in the US, you can find plenty of work opportunities as a multitude of vocational, management, executive, instructional, consulting, seasonal, and temporary jobs are available. You will find the highest success rate in applying for European work positions by focusing your efforts on in-demand positions that are not currently filled by locals. You may find vacancies in hospitality, tourism, and English teaching in cities and tourist centers. Other popular positions are available in medicine, education, software development, blockchain development, customer service, and accounting.
If you are a skilled job seeker, try searching in financial centers like London, Zurich, Paris, and Frankfurt or global tech hubs such as Berlin, Amsterdam, or Dublin. You can also search for jobs in the industrial and auto manufacturing industries at many multinational firms throughout Germany. Still, realize that certain occupations may not allow for an easy transition. For instance, accounting, medical, or legal positions may require local or accredited certifications.
You should need to compare the average salaries in your field to the cost of living in your preferred location. This helps you understand where the high-paying European jobs are, and the standard of living you can expect. Working with a local recruiting agency or consulting experienced expats may help you make accurate comparisons tailored to your needs, work experience, and skill set.
Can Americans Keep Their Remote Jobs and Live in Europe?
Several European countries, such as Portugal, Spain, and Malta, offer visas that allow you to work remotely for international companies. Portugal has the D7 visa, Spain has the Non-Lucrative Visa, Malta has the Nomad Residence Permit, and there are numerous other examples. In recent years, this is one of the most straightforward ways to work and live in Europe.
So if you don’t already work for one, you can start searching for jobs with these international firms. Look out for Fortune 500 companies or companies predominantly in the tech field, pharmaceuticals, engineering, accounting, and management consulting that are registered in Europe. Also, large businesses in tourism and travel, ranging from hotel chains to airlines. You can also seize the opportunity of working as a freelancer (using a freelance or passive income visa) to build a thriving business for yourself. It is a better way to gain ultimate control over how you work and off-course boost your income-earning potential.
Where Should Americans Look for Jobs in Europe?
The traditional way of reaching out to potential employers directly via in-person applications, emails, recruitment efforts, and other avenues will often give you the best results. Still, there are many ways to start your job search online.
- Search on platforms like LinkedIn, Monster Worldwide, Go Abroad, CareerJet, Going Global, Indeed, Idealist, Eurojobs, or JobsInNetwork. On those sites, you can find full-time and part-time in-person positions and remote positions in specific countries.
- If you are looking for online freelancing gigs, you can list your expertise on marketplaces like Upwork or Flexjobs. Research more of the top freelance marketplaces with our Remote Work Tool!
- For seasonal jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry, check out anyworkanywhere.com.
- English teachers can use resources like TEFL.com.
- Check what government jobs are available with US overseas entities through IO CAREERs and Federal Jobs Overseas.
- You can also work with a recruitment agency in your dream destination. They’ll guide you toward leveraging specific strategies to get a job in Europe.
Discover the Perfect Work-Life Balance in Europe
Working abroad in Europe can be an exciting experience that is much more attainable than you may think. There are tons of work opportunities in these thriving economies, and you can enjoy the advantages of better exposure to diverse cultures and work environments. That said, we do realize that choosing to work in Europe is a tough decision.
Whether you are looking for job opportunities in Europe or need help building a business or location-independent career on your own, we can help. Our consulting services and Expat Tools will help you to get abroad in the way that works best for you.