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You are here: Home Moving to Getting Started Looking for work in Belgium
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20/03/2012Looking for work in Belgium

Looking for work in Belgium This handy guide from Expertise in Labour Mobility includes how to write a CV, application procedure, interview dos and don'ts, Belgian management culture and more.

Looking for work in another country requires more than just the obvious CV translation. You will be confronted with issues that probably didn't even cross your mind when you decided to go for an international career, but don't underestimate the big impact they can have on the outcome of your adventure.

Think for example about the different rules and habits regarding immigration, job application procedures, the selection procedures and the management culture.

Expertise in Labour Mobility has prepared this practical fact sheet to give you a head start in job-hunting in Belgium:

Work permits in Belgium

European Economic Area (EEA) citizens are free to live and work anywhere within the EEA, although some countries might be subject to national regulations.
You need to apply for a residence permit. The permit is issued within the first six months of your arrival, is valid for five years and can be expanded upon proof of employment or sufficient financial resources. 
Contact the Belgian embassy in your current country of residence for more information.

Where to look for jobs
• One of the most successful ways to find work in Belgium is through speculative applications, although personal contacts might be of great help.
• Belgian newspapers (both national and regional) as well as international newspapers and magazines normally carry a substantial number of vacancies.
• Numerous private recruitment agencies and specific companies post vacancies on their websites.
• Career fairs might also be a good way of familiarising yourself with the job market of interest.

The application procedure in Belgium
Mind the language differences in Belgium. Except in the bilingual capital, most Flemings do not appreciate being addressed in French; likewise, Walloons won’t like to reply to an inquiry formulated in Dutch.
A Belgian employer will pay most attention to experience, motivation and social skills.

Online applications
• Online applications are quite common in Belgium.
• Similarly, digital CVs are also becoming customary.
• Online application letters are preferably written in the form of an email, while the CV should be a separate attached document. (Avoid using colloquial language!)
 
Writing a resume in Belgium
The key focus of your CV should be to persuade the employer to invite you for an interview. Therefore, a CV is a marketing tool that needs to be adapted to the market you intend to use it in.
The common format for a CV in Belgium is reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent dates first).
Whereas Belgian CVs used to be rather extensive, today one or two pages (A4) will do. 
Educational results need only be given if they resemble a direct reference to the position you are applying for. 

The application letter in Belgium
An important aspect of the Belgian application letter is the language. Try to closely follow the instructions provided in the specific job advertisement. 
Extracurricular activities are also of importance in the context of an application.
References are usually verified, so notify your referees in advance.

Do:
Use power words and action verbs in your application letter and resume.
Be very specific in Belgium when describing experiences or qualities.
Add references to your resume; this is particularly important for foreigners.

Don’t:

Put anything besides the truth in your resume – your future boss will find always find out the truth eventually.
Go over the top – stick to the facts.

The Interview
Having reached this stage means your application must have made a good impression. Here are some tips to help you overcome the interview more easily:


Do:
• Be confident and positive.
• Be prepared and honest.
• Make eye contact.
• Look interested - ask questions and show you're a good listener.
• Sell yourself and provide examples to prove your achievements.
• Follow-up by letter, email or phone call.

Don't:
• Sit uninvited or slouch.
• Interrupt or over-emphasise your achievements.
• Ever criticise your former employer.

Management culture in Belgium

The ever-present duality between the francophone and the Dutch-speaking region is also reflected in many Belgian organisations.
Although hierarchy is quite important, management authority rests more on competence.
• Belgians generally strive towards reaching a compromise. These consensus-oriented attitudes are also reflected in the way business is conducted.
In Belgium, people appreciate logical reasoning and you're therefore expected to back up your ideas with clear facts and figures. 
Since Belgians value personal contact, they do not like doing all their business over the phone or via email. 
 
Diversity is key for an international career: Find out about Kellogg-WHU’s international EMBA.

Book CoverThis information is based on the Looking for work in Belgium guide (ISBN 978-90-5896-063-4), written by Expertise in Labour Mobility. This section of the guide is one step to making your international career aspirations become reality. The full Looking for work in Belgium guide tells you everything you need to know. If you want to order or find out more about our services, have a look at  www.labourmobility.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



2 reactions to this article

Faruk Balayet Hossain posted: 2013-01-29 12:38:03

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

vanessa posted: 2013-02-23 19:04:06

Hi,
I have been living in London for 4 yrs now and have been studying health and social care for adults. I work in a hospital as a nursing assistant and now I am about to finish my course and have decided to live with my relatives in Belgium. I did the Flemish language courses and have passed it though I am not confident I am able to understand the language still. It is different on paper coz you have time to think but when I listen to someone I dont get 75% of it. I love my my work at the hospital and now I am facing the dilemma of finding the same job because of language barrier. I am giving myself a year to find a job any for that matter to feel productive otherwise I will have to go back to UK and compromise the happiness living with my relatives. I hope someone here can give me some moral boost on my intended migration. Thanks

2 reactions to this article

Faruk Balayet Hossain posted: 2013-01-29 12:38:03

[Edited by moderator. Please post (elaborate) questions on Ask the Expert or on our Forums. If you have questions for the Expatica staff, please contact us directly.]

vanessa posted: 2013-02-23 19:04:06

Hi,
I have been living in London for 4 yrs now and have been studying health and social care for adults. I work in a hospital as a nursing assistant and now I am about to finish my course and have decided to live with my relatives in Belgium. I did the Flemish language courses and have passed it though I am not confident I am able to understand the language still. It is different on paper coz you have time to think but when I listen to someone I dont get 75% of it. I love my my work at the hospital and now I am facing the dilemma of finding the same job because of language barrier. I am giving myself a year to find a job any for that matter to feel productive otherwise I will have to go back to UK and compromise the happiness living with my relatives. I hope someone here can give me some moral boost on my intended migration. Thanks

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Looking for work in Belgium

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