Brussels presents a unique job market, so we have produced a job seeker's guide specifically for this environment.
There are many reasons people are drawn to find work in Belgium's bustling international capital. Some may have dreamed of working in and around European politics, others may simply have wanted a change of scene, and many are arriving in Brussels because they are following their partner's new job opportunity.
Searching for work in a foreign country can seem daunting; however, plenty of help is on hand.
When people think of working in Brussels, major institutions such as the European Parliament, Commission and NATO will likely come to mind, but there is a much wider range of jobs available to expats than you might think.
The institutions have inevitably drawn a myriad of 'satellite' organisations: NGOs, consultancy firms, communication agencies, IT experts, law firms... the list goes on. This is before you even consider the Belgian companies serving more local markets, health and education establishments, or the transport and logistic companies set up in the heart of Europe.
It is difficult to pin down what type of jobs are available to expats. A quick search through the listings on www.brusselsjobs.com will give you an idea of the variety of office-based roles particularly suited to expats. You may find something exactly aligned to your previous experience, or take the opportunity to make a fresh start.
When browsing vacancies for expats, you'll notice that a working knowledge of English, French or Dutch will be extremely useful. However, given the multinational nature of Brussels, you will likely also find opportunities in many other languages. Keep searching and asking around about the sort of role you are looking for – your perseverance will pay off!
BrusselsJobs, as well as other online jobs boards, will list the role requirements and candidate profile. Although not all these points may be essential, the closer your skills and experience matches this profile the better your chances of success will be. As you might expect, an administrator role may simply require 1-2 years experience, whereas a more specialist role will require a Bachelor or Masters degree.
In the majority of cases, you will require an up to date CV and covering letter. These should be typed, written in the same language as the job ad, and demonstrate as far as possible how you meet the requirements for the role. Don't be shy about briefly explaining the reason for your move. Employers understand the transient nature of the way we work nowadays, plus they will appreciate an explanation as to why you have had to leave your current job, or if there is a gap in employment. If you have any questions about the job, do not hesitate to get in touch with the employer to ask. Should you be asked to interview, ensure you do your homework and prepare as much as you can.
Once you have found a role you will be applying for, your thoughts will likely turn to work permits, employment rights and tax in Belgium. In terms of work permits, this will depend on your citizenship. EU, EEA and Swiss nationals do not need a work permit. For non-EU nationals starting out in Belgium, you will need a 12 month, employer-specific Visa, for which your potential employer must apply for authorisation from the regional employment office.
Depending on your country of origin, you may find Belgian tax rates higher than you are used to. However, you can speak with your potential employer about what else you could be entitled to besides your salary, such as restaurant vouchers and contributions towards public transport expenses.