Cross border applications: Austria

1. General advice on job hunting in Austria

The invisible job market ­ with vacancies that usually do not appear in the newspapers ­ is rather vast. Thus speculative applications are worth trying, but only successful if they are well researched in advance.

You have to know exactly what kind of work you are looking for and why you have selected that particular company. Useful information in this respect can be found in ‘Kompaß ­ Band Handel’ or ‘Kompaß ­ Band Industrie’.

It is appreciated by Austrian employers if you telephone in advance. This will also allow you to find out to whom you should address your application (name and title of the person).

Do not underestimate the importance of personal contacts ­ you can start networking already from your home country ­ particularly since many smaller businesses use this as the ultimate way of filling vacancies.

The Application Letter

Application letters are typed and are usually one to maximum one and a half page long. Only in the more traditional occupations, such as medicine and law, are handwritten letters still used. In your letter you should not only give information on your education and your practical experience, but also your personal skills.

Start your letter with your own name and address, followed by the company’s name and address. Always refer to the advert, or, in the case of a speculative application, emphasis it is an open application (Unaufgeforderte Bewerbung).

Finish your letter with a sentence asking for an invitation to an interview in order to allow you to present your application personally. Enclose copies of diplomas, testimonials and exam results. If you are a recent graduate with little practical experience, it might be worthwhile to include a copy of your thesis or any other substantial essay (do not forget to include a summary in German). All these documents, as in Germany, should be put in one or more plastic folders.

The Curriculum Vitae

You start your CV with your personal details, including name, address, telephone number with international access code, your place and date of birth and your civil status. The Austrian CV is in reversed chronological order, detailing your most recent activities first.

After your personal details, you mention your education, including the results, followed by your language skills and your practical experience (include apprenticeships, since Austrian employers attach great importance to it).

Extra-curricular activities, such as hobbies, special interests and voluntary work, are mentioned at the end. Pay special attention to this last category, since Austrian employers find extra-curricular activities important.

Attach a photo to your CV (put your personal details on the back) and put the date on your CV and sign it (like in Germany).

The Application Procedure

It is common to arrive in the building at least 15 minutes before the interview commences. Pay a lot of attention to your appearance, which should be rather formal; women are advised to wear skirts (not too short) and men need to wear a suit for their application interview.

Be prepared for questions about yourself and on your strong points and your weaknesses. But also on your mid- and long-term aims (“what do you want to have achieved in five years time?”). Austrian recruiters expect graduates to have given some thought in advance on what they would like to earn (never mention an exact amount) and you are expected to be able to negotiate this.

Altogether a tough interview that you need to thoroughly prepare for in advance. Expect two to three interviews and some tests. Assessment centres are getting more common in Austria, but are not as well established as for instance in the UK.

2. Mock CV for Austria

Cross border applications: Belgium

1. General advice on job hunting in Belgium

One of the most successful ways of finding work in Belgium is through speculative application. However, you need to do some research in advance. You need to know in which sector or sectors the company is active, whether or not the company has subsidiaries and if they are active abroad.

A useful source of information for speculative applications are directories such as ‘Move Up’, ‘GO Talent’ and ‘Job Ticket’. You can also use more standard sources like trade directories and yearbooks.

It is strongly recommended that you telephone the Human Resources department in advance, to find out for example, to whom you should direct your letter and in which language. Remember, Belgium is divided into a Flemish (Dutch speaking) part and a Walloon (French speaking) area. And have some good questions prepared to ensure you leave a good impression!

The Application Letter

An important aspect of a Belgian covering letter is the language. Make sure you follow the instructions given in the advertisement or, if nothing is said in the advert, telephone in advance. Belgian employers prefer a letter to start with a name, instead of a more general beginning, such as “Dear Sirs” (again use the telephone!).

Letters can be either handwritten or typewritten, but especially in the French speaking area and in the traditional professions, a handwritten letter is standard. Testimonials of former employers and copies of diplomas only need to be send when specifically asked for.

However, it is considered common to send two references, including name, function, address and telephone number. Inform these people in advance, because references are usually verified. The style of the letter should be formal and it should clearly emphasis your motivation; why you consider yourself the perfect candidate, other qualities in case you do not fulfill all the requirements and a possible starting date. Moreover, extracurricular activities are considered of importance.

Application forms are widely used among large enterprises. It is not uncommon in these forms if employers ask information on the profession and employers of your parents or partner.

The Curriculum Vitae

The most common format for a Belgian CV is reversed chronological, mentioning the most recent activities first. In Flanders people sometimes use chronological CVs, but in Wallonia the reversed chronological CV is preferred.

Belgian CVs tended to be long, but nowadays they are shortened to a maximum of two pages. The CV is very factual, precise and professional. You start with your personal details including your civil status. Followed by your education, including high school. Results are only given when there is a direct relation to the job.

Subsequently, you mention your work experience. Include all your student jobs, holiday work and apprenticeships, since experience is highly valued. Linguistic abilities are considered of great importance.

They should be listed on your CV with reference to the spoken and written level. If male, you should clearly indicate whether or not you have done your military service, even though compulsory military service has been (recently) abolished in Belgium.

The Application Procedure

During the interview the interviewer will pay most attention to experience, motivation and social interpersonal skills. Psychological, intelligence, aptitude and psychometric tests are widely used. Assessment centres are becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst financial institutions and industrial companies.

2. Mock CV for Belgium (Example for Flanders ­ CVs in Wallonia resemble French CVs)

Cross border applications: France

1. General advice on job hunting in France

A very successful way of finding work in France is through speculative application. French companies often place general advertisements to which job seekers could reply speculatively. To reply to such advertisements you need to send a CV with photo and a handwritten application letter, both in French.

In your letter you need to explain clearly your motivation for the particular company (company information to motivate your choice can be found in various French directories such as ‘Guide des Opportunités de Carrières’ (GO), ‘Guide des Enterprises qui Recrutent’ or ‘Kompass’).

Almost 30% of the vacancies are filled through this method, followed shortly by personal contacts as an effective way of finding work. Making such personal contacts with French people might seem difficult at first, but networking in itself is already seen as a recommendation by French employers.

The Application Letter

A French application consists of a CV, often with a photo attached to it, and a handwritten application letter. The application letter is short, about 15 to 20 lines. The emphasis should be on your most recent activities and you should be able to illustrate with examples why you are the right candidate for the job.

You start with your name and address in the top left hand corner. In the right corner you mention ­ preferably in figures ­ the reference to the vacancy, if applicable. Mention, in a succinct way, several reasons why you consider yourself the appropriate candidate, fitting the job description.

References and copies of diplomas are not included, but should be brought to the interview. Make sure you bring certified copies, with original stamp and signature of your university. References, including those from apprenticeships, are welcomed by French employers. They often check the references by telephone.

Furthermore, the letter is always handwritten (the only exceptions are to be found in some parts of the IT sector). Graphology is a widely-used selection method in France (by approx. 80% of the employers). It is mainly used to observe the candidate’s general education. Specific characteristics might figure as a subject of discussion for the further selection procedure.

The Curriculum Vitae

The French CV is either reversed chronological (most recent activity first) or functional (activities grouped thematically). What ever style you choose, the CV should be brief, succinct and direct, one to two pages at the most.

Your personal details should include; besides name, address and telephone number (do not forget the international access code), your nationality and your civil status. Usually you give your age, instead of your date of birth and you also omit your place of birth. With regard to education you only mention the highest diplomas you have obtained.

Language skills should be given in detail. Under work experience you have to mention the exact job description and the responsibilities you have had. Be prepared to answer questions in the interview on your hobbies if you put them on your CV (e.g. “which was the most recent book you read?”).

Often a French CV includes a ‘Projet Professionel’. This is a rather precise description in a few lines of what you hope to achieve, in line with your education and skills, in your career in a period of several years.

The Application Procedure

The application procedure usually starts with some psychological tests, followed by the interview after passing the tests. Usually two to four interviews are held, in which most attention is paid to the personality of the candidate. Although tests are popular, especially for administrative jobs, assessment centres and panel interviews are rather unknown.

2. Mock CV for France

Cross border applications: Germany

1. General advice on job hunting in Germany

Apprenticeships (Praktika) are a good way of acquiring practical work experience. And having experience is one of the main selection criteria for German employers. The Praktika are also open for foreign students and graduates. Please note that German companies train their university graduates in-company for approx. two to three years before they attain managerial status.

The German application procedure is highly formal compared to some other European countries. German employers want to have a full package of information before making their first selection. Therefore, you need to send copies of diplomas, testimonials from former employers and attestations of professional training with your CV and covering letter.

The resulting package is a weighty document of 10 to even 30 pages, bound in a plastic folder. A rather expensive application to send, but German employers return (usually) the whole package after use, except the covering letter.

The Application Letter

Application letters are typed, with the sole exception of some traditional professions, such as medicine, where a handwritten letter is preferred. The letter should give a complete and precise description of the position(s) previously held. This is more important than your personal motivation for the job.

German recruiters prefer a conservative style letter to a highly original eye-catching one. (Be aware that everywhere ‘jokes’ such as confetti in an envelope are hardly appreciated!) Mention a possible starting date and it is not uncommon to give an indication of the salary you would like to earn (never quote an exact amount though!).

Start your letter with the name and title of the person who is dealing with the applications (please note the importance of titles in Germany ­ phone in advance if necessary). The letter should be one to maximum two pages in length.

Speculative applications are not unusual in Germany, but remember the formal style of the application process. It can, for instance, be worthwhile using personal contacts to find out about job openings. However, it is considered incorrect to ask people directly for a job in their company.

The Curriculum Vitae

The German CV is always in strict chronological order (Tabellarischen Lebenslauf), with a photo (put your details on the back of the picture) attached with a paper clip to the top right hand corner. Sign your CV on the bottom right, opposite the date in the left corner.

It is common to mention your civil status (including children), your school results and whether you have a driving license. Previously, the civil status rubric also contained parents’ names and professions and your religion, but this is no longer very common.

Mind your style of writing; poetic descriptions and boasting is not appreciated by German recruiters. Start with your personal details (name, address, telephone number with international access code, place and date of birth, civil status), followed by your education including the results and work experience (do not forget to mention apprenticeships).

Make sure there are no ‘gaps’ in your CV, hence the importance of mentioning your complete education. However, if there are ‘gaps’, ensure you mention the reason, even report periods of unemployment. Hobbies are only mentioned when relevant for the job. Language skills and areas of interest are given in a German CV.

The Application Procedure

In general two job interviews are held. The first is with the personnel department, in which the personality of the candidate plays a major role. The second interview is with the field management, sometimes accompanied by certain specialists, who test your technical and professional knowledge.

Prepare yourself for questions regarding your current activities, what you would like to earn and on the activities of the company. It is likely that you will be asked to solve a problem which might occur in your future job.

The candidate is expected to answer questions with precision. Do not try to impress the recruiter with tales of spectacular professional exploits. He or she wants someone with experience and a steady track record!

Psychological and aptitude tests are common. For management positions and management trainee jobs, assessment centres are usually used.

2. Mock CV for Germany

Cross border applications: Ireland

1. General advice on job hunting in Ireland

Speculative applications are worth trying, but are generally only successful if well researched in advance. You have to know why you want to work for that particular company and in that particular sector.

Be as precise as possible; It is not enough to state that you would like to work in a management position somewhere in Ireland! Useful information for speculative applications can be found in directories such as ‘Register of Employers in Ireland’ (REGI), ‘Directory of Opportunities for Graduates in Ireland (DOGI), ‘Directory of Employers of Graduates in Ireland’ and the Irish version of ‘Kompass’. Also some British directories might be helpful.

A major tip for those of you looking for work in Ireland: Do not underestimate the importance of language skills. Having a conversation (in English) in a pub is something different from a business conversation during a staff meeting.

The Application Letter

Application letters can either be typed or handwritten. The style is short, formal and straightforward. When your letter is a response to an advertisement, it can be brief and should merely introduce your CV.

In the case of a speculative application th eletter should fully explain your motivation. You need to explain what kind of job you are looking for and why you have chosen this particular company to apply to.

Two references are customary, one academic/personal, the other a professional reference, both with full contact details. References are usually taken up if an offer of employment is made.

A lot of companies use application forms, especially for junior managerial/supervisory staff (96%). Standard questions cover education and training, work experience, hobbies and personal interests. Extra-curricular activities are considered of great importance. A photograph is usually attached to an application form

The Curriculum Vitae

Irish CVs have no standard length. But many employers prefer them short, maximum two pages. A CV should only give facts and figures. Your motivation, skills and qualities for the job have to be mentioned in your letter, not your CV. Information in the CV can either be presented in chronological or reverse chronological order.

Start with your personal details (often without place of birth or religion), education (recent graduates should include results and courses attended), work experience (with exact dates) and leisure activities. In Ireland a great deal of emphasis is placed upon extra-curricular activities and personal achievements. Put them in your CV. Recent graduates should always mention anything they have done outside their academic study.

The Application Procedure

During the interview the emphasis is again on your extra-curricular activities. Be prepared for questions about your personal achievements, your motivation, your education and the company itself. The style of the interview is convivial, almost chatty.

However, do not be deceived by this, since the informal manner usually hides a clear strategy designed to find out your real competencies and personality. Please note that Irish recruiters consider competence and personality the two most important qualities, followed by humour and leadership capabilities. Candidates at graduate entry level are often confronted by a panel of three or more selectors.

Bring copies of your CV, diplomas and employer testimonials with you to the interview.

Irish companies make extensive use of psychological tests and assessment centres. During an assessment centre test ­ which can last up to three days ­ intelligence, social and communicative skills and management qualities are tested. (Please note, that teams don’t just want leaders!)

2. Mock CV for Ireland

Cross border applications: Luxembourg

1. General advice on job hunting in Luxembourg

Speculative applications are very common in Luxembourg. All companies, and banks in particular, are used to receiving spontaneous applications, especially from recent graduates. Practical experience, study results, linguistic abilities and diplomas obtained are of major importance.

Most employers in Luxembourg are familiar with foreign diplomas, due to the fact that Luxembourg has no full university system itself. Previously, having a relevant degree for a job was not essential, but because of more competition on the labour market, degree relevance is gaining importance.

Given its small size, much recruitment takes place through informal contacts. Do not hesitate to use the phone in your quest for a job. Expect to speak either French, German or English (French and German being the national languages, besides Luxembourgish), depending on the nationality of the Human Resources manager. Please note that nearly 30% of the working population consists of foreign nationals.

The Application Letter

Application letters are usually handwritten. Unless otherwise stated in the advertisement, the covering letter would normally be written in French (for speculative applications French is the most common). However, for international positions the application letter is preferably written in English.

The letter should be as brief and concise as possible. The style is formal and should emphasise your motivation and qualities for the job. It is customary to send copies of diplomas, certificates and references with the application. A photograph may be included, although it is not essential. Application forms are usually accompanied by a photograph, but it is uncommon to send certificates and recommendations with an application form.

The Curriculum Vitae

There are no strict rules for CVs in Luxembourg. The style and content of the CV tends to reflect the candidate’s (and the employer’s!) nationality, rather than to follow a format that is typical for Luxembourg. Usually the CV should be written in French (use the French mock CV as an example), unless otherwise stated in the advertisement.

For instance, if you are applying to a German advertisement (German would most probably be the company language in this case) respond in German using the German mock CV as an example. The same applies for an advertisement in English.

The Application Procedure

Selection interviews and use of tests or assessment centres again largely depend on the nationality of the hiring company. Prepare yourself thoroughly for the interview. Expect that your language skills will be tested during the interview. And be prepared for questions on the company’s activities.

Cross border applications: The Netherlands

1. General advice on job hunting in The Netherlands

One of the most successful ways of finding work in The Netherlands is through speculative applications. Even if the company has no vacancies at the moment of writing, they still might keep your CV on file, in case a suitable vacancy arises at a later stage. Making a telephone call in advance is common for speculative as well as regular applications.

Phone the human resources manager, or anyone else on middle management level to whom it may be useful to talk. The objective is to make yourself known, and to demonstrate your initiative however, keep it brief. Make sure you have specific points or questions to raise. You could, for example, telephone to find out more about the structure of the company or to whom to address the application.

The telephone is very important when job hunting in the Netherlands. It is direct, brief and efficient, and very much in favour with Dutch managers. Use it! Useful information for speculative applications can be found in Directories such as ‘Oriëntatiegids’ and ‘Intermediair Jaarboek’.

The Application Letter

Although the Dutch are good at languages, you have to send your application in Dutch unless otherwise requested (writing your application in the language of the country concerned also applies to all the other countries, because not knowing the language will put you at a real disadvantage from the local job seekers).

The style is short, direct and professional. Usually the letter opens with the reason for applying. The middle part explains why you consider yourself the right candidate for the job and what attracts you to the company.

In ending the letter, it is common to say that you are willing to explain your application in more detail during a personal interview. Keep in mind, when writing your application letter, that the candidate’s motivation is one of the main selection criteria.

It is not necessary to include copies of diplomas, employer testimonials or other official documents. They will be checked out at a later stage.

The Curriculum Vitae

A Dutch CV uses a direct factual style. It is in chronological order on one page maximum. The CV only gives the facts and figures. Your motivation and qualities for the job must be mentioned in the letter, not in your CV. A CV has to be typed and written in the third person singular.

Include personal details, education (including courses, but not results), work experience (including dates) and leisure activities. Dutch recruiting officers attach great importance to leisure activities and civic responsibilities. These should, therefore, be mentioned in your CV. Make them look as relevant as possible for the job (e.g. playing team games points to team spirit, etc). Adapt your CV for each specific job.

The Application Procedure

During the interview expect questions about your motivation, your education and about the company itself. Educate yourself thoroughly on the company in advance. Furthermore, expect questions about your character, your strengths and weaknesses, extra-curricular activities, as well as membership of societies and organisations.

Dutch recruiters attach great importance to leisure activities and civic responsibilities. Be prepared! You are not obliged to answer questions about your personal situation (e.g. “Are you planning to have children?”).

This does not mean that those questions will not get asked, but if you do not want to answer them, find a polite way around it! At the end of the interview it is common to ask some questions yourself. Give some thought to it in advance.

Take copies of your curriculum vitae, diplomas, employer testimonials and any other documents you consider useful.

Assessment centres are quite commonly used, especially by large Dutch employers. Candidates spend one or more days being assessed in interaction together. Assessment centres concentrate on tests which reflect real life situations, relevant to the vacancy, where the candidate really has to ‘perform’, instead of stating what he or she might do in a situation.

2. Mock CV for The Netherlands

Cross border applications: Switzerland

1. General advice on job hunting in Switzerland

If you consider working in Switzerland you need to be aware of the four national languages. The largest part of the population (64%) speaks German (centre, north and east of the country). French is spoken by 19% of the population (south and west) and Italian by 8% of the population (Canton Ticino).

Romansch is only spoken by a very small minority in some valleys of the Canton of Grisons. Therefore, to be successful in your quest for a job in Switzerland you need to be (reasonably) fluent in at least German, French and English.

Speculative applications and networking are usually successful in Switzerland. If you are applying to an advertisement, telephone in advance to introduce yourself, to ask some relevant questions (prepare the questions in advance; you never get a second chance to make a first impression!) and to show your interest in the company and the job.

Try to make sure that your application arrives the next day after your phone call ­ via fax or e-mail if acceptable ­ to illustrate your punctuality, a quality highly appreciated by Swiss recruiters.

The Application Letter

The application letter is usually handwritten, well-structured and short (max. one page). The style is rather formal. Your letter should refer to the job you are applying for and why you are interested and motivated for this particular job.

You start your letter with your address at the left side and at the right side the city and current date. Below your address you write at the right side the address of the company (preferably with the name and/or function of the person you are addressing the letter to).

Below that, on the left side, you refer to the advertisement you are responding to (or, in case of a speculative application, to the phone call you have made). The body of the letter should contain an introduction, followed by your education and your practical experience (this paragraph should illustrate your skills and qualifications for the job).

Subsequently you should give your reason for applying and finish with a formal sentence, such as “Ich danke Ihnen für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit”. You have to sign at the right side of the letter and below left you have to give the annexes.

Application forms are only used by some larger multi-national firms.

The Curriculum Vitae

A Swiss CV is similar in structure to a German CV (see the mock CV in the text on Germany). A photo is usually attached to the top right corner. The CV can either be chronological (most common), reversed chronological or functional.

It should include personal details, your education and qualifications, and your practical experience. Swiss recruiters attach great importance to work experience, so mention all your practical experience, including apprenticeships.

Language skills and computer literacy have to be mentioned, extra-curricular activities, hobbies and interests are optional. On a separate sheet, include two ro three references (notify the people in advance!). Also include copies of your diplomas and testimonials from former employers.

The Application Procedure

The application interview, as in most countries, is the most crucial part of the selection procedure. The interview usually lasts an hour. The personnel manager leads the interview. Often the interview is with a panel, in most cases your future boss will be present. Otherwise you will be introduced to him/her directly after the interview.

Prepare yourself thoroughly for the interview (exercise the interview in advance with a friend). Be prepared for questions about the company and on your motivation for both the job and this particular company. You do not have to answer personal questions (particularly relevant for women), but consider in advance how you are going to tackle such questions.

It is difficult to generalize about the intensity of interviewing. The number of times prospective candidates are interviewed varies a great deal, depending on the company, the position and whether or not tests are involved. Psychological tests are used by larger companies. Most used are psychometric tests (verbal and numerical), making a presentation to a group and group discussion exercises.

Graphology reports are used by some companies, but are less frequent as in France. Your permission, however, needs to be asked in advance.

Cross border applications: United Kingdom

1. General advice on job hunting in the United Kingdom

Speculative applications are worth trying, but only successful if they are well researched in advance. You have to know why you want to work for that particular company in that particular branch. You need to know exactly what products they manufacture, where they are based, etc. Useful information in this respect can be found in the many directories that are available on British firms (‘D & B Regional Business Directories’, ‘Kompass’ and ‘Key British Enterprises’ etc).

A major tip for those of you looking for work in the UK: Do not underestimate the importance of language skills. Having a conversation in a pub is something different from a business conversation during a staff meeting!

The Application Letter

It is common to send a typed application letter and a CV of one to two pages maximum. In the letter you should explain why you are the right candidate for the job. But do not overestimate your qualities, since this could offend the British sense of modesty. Use instead a straightforward, respectful tone and illustrate, wherever possible, particular skills with examples. If you mention for instance your team working skills, make sure you illustrate this with an example where you had to use these skills.

If you do not know to whom you are addressing the covering letter start with “Dear sir/madam” and finish with “Yours faithfully”. However, if you do know the name it is customary to start with “Dear Mr/Ms X” and close with “Yours sincerely”. It is becoming more common to attach photos to application letters. Some companies specifically ask for it.

Many companies use application forms (98% use them for at least some vacancies). Standard questions cover education and training, work experience, hobbies and personal interest. Extra-curricular activities are considered of great importance. On most application forms no photograph is included although this is beginning to change. Only include one if asked for.

The Curriculum Vitae

The CV is short, maximum two pages, but the tendency is to shorten the CV to one page. You start with your personal details, but leave out your place of birth, your civil status and religion.

Since UK companies generally attach less importance to the candidate’s civil status than in most Continental European countries, this allows space for a list of hobbies and sporting pursuits. It is customary to give the contact details of two references at the end of your CV.

You can also ask a professor of your university to be a reference for you, but you have to ensure that these people know you are putting them in your CV as a reference, because most British employers will contact them. Use ‘power words’ to describe your personal skills in your CV, such as contributed, organised, demonstrated.

For the format of your CV you can choose between a reversed chronological CV (most recent activity first) or a functional CV (activities grouped thematically). The functional CV is getting more and more common, since it allows you to strengthen certain skills and experience. And ‘gaps’ in your CV are less obvious.

The Application Procedure

UK companies make extensive use of assessment centres. The tendency among some companies is to use assessment centres even at the beginning of the selection process, before the interviews. During an assessment centre test ­ which can last up to three days ­ intelligence, social and communication skills and management qualities are tested. (Please note, that teams do not need leaders only!)

At the interview, a candidate is often confronted by a panel of three or more selectors. Rather than attempting to discern your personality, they will try to assess your technical competencies.

2. Mock CV for the United Kingdom

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