Your next career adventure is around the corner – with the help of a recruitment agency, finding a job in Europe can be a smooth and seamless process.
We know how demoralizing it can be. Wading through streams of listings, uploading reams of applications and motivation letters into what can feel like a cyber black hole. But looking for a job doesn’t have to be stressful, frustrating and tedious.
Finding a job in Europe with a recruitment agency is a sure-fire way to surf smoothly through the flotsam and jetsam of the job search, and secure a role that fits your skills, your experience, your personality, and even your aspirations and ethics.
Using an overseas employment agency to find a job in Europe is perfect for individuals with well-defined career goals. Signing up with an international recruitment agency costs nothing, and it’s an effective way for job seekers to find their match. A good agency will be right behind you promoting your name, your brand, and your credentials to their clients.
Here are some insider tips on getting a job using a recruitment agency in Europe, the advantages and pitfalls, and which international agencies can help you find a job in your field.
Find a job in Europe using a recruitment agency
So you want to find a job in Europe using an employment agency? Perhaps you’ve already been ‘headhunted’ via your LinkedIn profile or personal website, but the approach came to nothing. Try reaching out to an overseas employment agency specializing in your profession.
Many agencies differentiate themselves into sectors, but a good agency will also avoid the cookie-cutter approach. They should invest time getting to know both the client and the candidate, and work hard to find the right match. If they can’t meet the candidate in person, they should meet them online via a video call. It’s a really well invested 20 minutes.
Why use a recruitment agency?
There are many advantages to finding a job in a European country with a recruitment agency. Bottom line is that they probably know the local job market far better than you do. They should know their clients and the type of candidate (beyond just skills and experience) they typically look for.
An agency should know what it takes to get you to the interview stage and beyond. This might include offering advice on tweaking your CV or interview techniques. It may be quite different to what you’re used to; the chatty, witty repartee that works wonders in Dublin, for example, may fall on deafer ears in Frankfurt.
It is extremely important to develop a thorough understanding of business etiquette and culture in each country. Do your homework on the agency (look for testimonials, perhaps), as well as research the prospective employer – what it’s like to work there (Glassdoor is useful for candid employee reviews), benefits, career progression potential, and the work culture. A good agency should (within reason) know their client sufficiently well to answer your questions directly.
International agency vs. local specialist
There are inherent advantages to finding a job in Europe through a large international recruitment agency. They will typically have many expat placements under their belts, and many clients that employ expats on their books. A large overseas employment agency should know the formalities involved in hiring non-EU nationals (work permits, etc.) in each country. They might also have the inside track on jobs which are not (and may never be) in the public domain. And if you get an offer, they may be able to help negotiate your package with the employer.
A local agency would likely have less experience dealing with expats. If you don’t know the local language, you might be at a disadvantage with their clients. But on the plus side, you might have specific expertise on the location: think banking or finance in Switzerland or Luxembourg, engineering, oil or gas in Rotterdam.
Weigh up the pros and cons when looking for work in Europe using an employment agency.
Expert tips for expats
Europe is diverse, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to your job hunt. But there are some trusty tips which apply to most markets. Language skills are important, for example. Unless it is an international firm, most employers in Europe need English plus another language as a pre-requisite. Many employers also still value longevity in jobs. If you have job-hopped, justify why – you may have a very good reason, but know your CV inside out.
It’s a candidate-led market at the moment and people have choices. Workplaces are increasingly saying: ‘how can we get the best out of you from the time you’re in the office.’ It isn’t about doing a certain number of hours a day. So, on your CV, emphasize your contributions and achievements, even if it was for only a year. There is also an increase in hybrid roles: for example, a position that combines PA and finance functions, or PA and project tasks.
Leading international recruitment agencies in Europe
As one of the world’s biggest economic blocs employing more than 200 million people (according to the European Commission), Europe has a well-developed recruitment agencies network. Candidates looking to find a new job in Europe with an agency typically engage specialist international recruiters.
- Tiger Recruitment specializes in PA/secretarial positions, from graduate administrators to executive assistants, across Europe.
- Adecco is one of the big names in the industry. They have offices throughout Europe and globally, as is Hudson, a talent management specialist.
- Laurence Simons, which caters to legal and compliance recruitment, has European offices in London, Amsterdam, Geneva, Paris, and Frankfurt.
- Approach People Recruitment claims to be one of the top five most socially-engaged staffing agencies. They’re all over Europe, operating from Paris, Lyon, Dublin, Barcelona, and Geneva.
- Volt focuses on engineering, IT, life sciences, telecoms and data/analytics with offices in Belgium, France, and the UK.
- Seuss Recruitment, meanwhile, specializes in pharma and biotech roles.
- European Recruitment is an award-winning agency specializing in niche technologies including artificial intelligence, virtual reality/graphics, semi-conductors, and web technologies.
- HR Globally Talent, with expertise in engineering, IT software, life sciences, and finance, is another leading agency in Europe.
Find a job in the Netherlands using a recruitment agency
Expats looking for a job in the Netherlands through a recruitment agency have their pick of agencies who cater for non-Dutch speaking roles. Finding a job in the Netherlands using a recruitment agency is popular because it can typically advise and assist with formalities, including Dutch work permit regulations, help you assess your Dutch contract and wage, and even offer guidance on Dutch business culture and Dutch contracts and employment law.
- Undutchables is geared to finding jobs for expats, and says it ‘matches multilingual talent with challenging jobs’.
- Blue Lynx Employment has been helping expats find jobs in the Netherlands for three decades.
- Octagon Professionals International focuses on sales and marketing, HR, secretarial and admin posts.
Find a job in Germany using a recruitment agency
Finding a job in Germany using a recruitment agency is an excellent induction into one of Europe’s most robust job markets. But where to start? Check out the German Yellow Pages under ‘Arbeitsvermittlung’ for agencies. There are several international recruitment agencies operating in Germany, many of which list specialist jobs for foreigners. A good German recruitment agency will help you navigate German business culture, as well as requirements for visa and residence permits, if required.
- Tiger Recruitment is a London-based recruitment agency specializing in PA and secretarial recruitment, and places candidates across mainland Europe, including Germany.
- StepStone is one of the leading agencies in Germany (and Europe).
- Contacts & Management helps international companies in Germany fill roles.
Find a job in Belgium using a recruitment agency
Recruitment agencies in Belgium tend to specialize. The principal agencies are listed (in English) in the Belgian Golden Pages. A recruitment agency can help expats understand Belgian business culture and the unique work environment. Here, both French and Dutch styles – inherently very different – are commonly used. A recruiter will also advise on work permit and visa requirements in Belgium.
- Tiger Recruitment is a London-based recruitment agency specializing in PA and secretarial recruitment, and places candidates across mainland Europe, including Belgium.
- Adecco, a large international agency, is also worth checking out.
- Manpower Belgium has offices in Brussels and other cities in Belgium.
Find a job in Switzerland using a recruitment agency
Private recruitment agencies in Switzerland, called Arbeitsvermittlung or agence de placement, are a popular first port of call for expat job seekers. Not part of the EU, Switzerland has slightly different regulations and requirements for job seekers than its EU neighbours. A recruitment agency with a local presence will be able to advise on specifics of the work culture in the country, as well as work permits.
- Tiger Recruitment is a London-based recruitment agency specializing in PA and secretarial recruitment, and places candidates across mainland Europe, including Switzerland.
- Swisslinx offers executive, technology and finance recruitment.
- Manpower and Adecco are two other leading international agencies in the country.
Finding a job in Europe using a recruitment agency will give you a great shot at success in unfamiliar territory. Indeed, using an employment agency in Europe could well be the best career decision you’ve ever made!