How to Get a Job in the European Union as a Foreigner

As a Singaporean who *dreams* of working and travelling overseas, I find the European Region alluring due to its diverse cultures. Given the relatively low cost of travelling these days, it is pretty easy to book a flight and go for a holiday. However, nothing beats working in a region and taking overnight trains for short getaway during the weekends or summer holidays – something that is not possible if you are not based in the same region. And we are not even talking about jet lag here. Granted, one can work anywhere as you wish but in this article, I will be touching specifically on looking for jobs in the European Region as a non-resident of the European Union/ Schengen Area.

How to Find a Job in the European Union as a Foreigner

1. Countries to Migrate to

Firstly, when deciding which countries to settle in, it pays to pick countries that welcome migrants. They make settling down and entering easier for foreigners than to pick a country that does not welcome non-residents. Countries which are open to immigrants include Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore. European countries include Germany, The Netherlands, Ireland and Belgium. This will make looking for jobs easier as a foreigner.

2. Route to Getting a Visa

Common ways of getting a long term visa in the host country includes:

– Working as a teacher

– Being a freelance worker

– Digital nomad

– Working holiday Visa

– Moving abroad, then finding work in the host country

– Researchers 

– Students

– Unpaid Trainees, Exchange pupils

– Volunteers

– Getting a international job transfer when working for an MNC

i e. Intra corporate transferees

What are the ways to secure a job overseas?

By networking, looking through online job portals, working for a MNC and keeping a lookout for overseas postings, taking a postgraduate degree, having a foreign language skill handy. 

READ: How to Learn any Language for Free

How to Find a Job in the European Union as a Foreigner

3. Skills RecommendedLook up skills shortage list/ jobs that are needed to fill the gap of the host country

A way to increase your probability of securing a job in the host country is to look up the skills shortage lists (or shortage occupation list, skilled workers list) on the hosts’ government labour website. 

Common professions in demand include

– Medicine

– Researchers

– Engineering

– IT Programming

4. Types of Visa

In The Netherlands, students who have graduated from a local university are eligible for an “Orientation Visa”, a one year residence permit for non-EU citizens that allows one to stay and work in the Netherlands for next to no restrictions. 

At the end of your one year Orientation Visa, you may be eligible for an EU Blue Card as long as you meet the requirements for salary in the Netherlands (€5400 (USD$6400) per month) and professional/educational experience.

If you do not plan to further your studies in the Netherlands to qualify for the Orientation Visa, there is another option for entrepreneurs. If you have an idea for a startup, you can apply for a one year residency in the Netherlands. The scheme will provide you with a local mentor for you. After a year when the permit is up, you have the option to extend your stay by applying for the standard work permit.

Germany offers an “Artist Visa” for freelancers who are self employed. Requirements will be to pay €110 (USD$135) upfront and submit documentations of your business plan, health insurance etc. Another option would be the Job Seeker Visa, a long term residence permit for students to return to Germany for up to six months to look for a job. The job seeker visa costs €75 (USD$88). 

Other types of Visa Includes: Entrepreneur Visa, Investor Visa, Schengen Visa (Tourist Visa), Golden Investor Visa

How to Find a Job in the European Union as a Foreigner

5. Lifestyle, Cost of Living, Tax System

Make sure your salary is sufficient to cover the cost of living. Also, take note of the difference between gross and net pay. 

The Netherlands

Singapore’s costs of living higher than Netherlands. According to my life elsewhere, a cost of living comparison site for various countries, Singapore is 15.3% more expensive than the Netherlands. This is not surprising given that Singapore is one of the top 20 most expensive cities for expatriates to live in globally.

The tax rate in the Netherlands is equivalent to having a maximum tax rate of approximately 36.2%. For comparison, Singapore’s income tax rate start from 0% and is capped at 22% for residents and a flat rate of 15% to 22% for non-residents. The Dutch speak the best English in Europe and are direct people.

The Dutch work less hours and hence their standard of living is better. Cannabis is allowed here, unlike the place where I come from.


In Germany, one is expected to be punctual when meeting up, unlike in Singapore where it is acceptable to be 5-10 minutes late for a meeting, depending on the formality of the occasion. Germans avoid unnecessary and excessive small talk, they prefer to get down to business. It is also why they are direct in their communication. 

The cost of living in Singapore is higher than Germany’s cost of living. Partly because Germany has a variety of grocery chains to choose from, and food prices are competitive. Germany has a progressive income tax system, similar to Singapore. The tax rate of 42% applies to taxable income above €55,960 (USD$69,000) for 2019.For taxable income above €265,327 (USD$326,000), a 45% tax is applicable

Everyone has to pay solidarity tax which is capped at 5.5% of income tax. This is to improve the economic situation and infrastructure in the 5 ‘new’ eastern states of Germany. 

READ: How to Handle Office Politics

6. Resources

Host country’s public employment service websites

EURES job mobility portal

Euro Jobs

Euro Job Sites

Europe Language Jobs

Tech Jobs

Job Bank

Job Careers EU

The Guardian

Indeed (available for almost many EU countries)

LinkedIn Jobs 

The Local

Step Stone

Blu Selection

Do you find this article useful? Let me know in the comments what else I can add to this list.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!