Country Guides

Our expert ECCE members have compiled country specific guides to support interns and job seekers with useful tips and resources. Countries listed are: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. These country guides will enable interns and job seekers to prepare for initial research about:

  • the labour market,
  • common selection methods,
  • job sites to explore,
  • living in one of these countries,
  • culture,
  • professional and social networking and
  • entrepreneurship.
  • Visit one of the country pages to explore further:
Please select a country above

Germany

Selection Methods

CV, Cover letters & Applications

In our experience, international students react sometimes a bit surprised to the fact that in Germany applying for a job or even an internship requires a bit more documentation than what they may be used to. German companies often ask you to submit an application folder (portfolio) that includes a cover letter, a CV, a passport photograph, copies of educational certificates and testimonials of previous employment.

Our advice to you as an International Student with no or only limited German is to compose your application documents in English.

The cover letter (or letter of motivation) provides you with a platform to promote yourself. Please stick to 1 page A4 max – keep it as brief and concise as you can. The recruiter needs to be addressed by name and title if he/she has one. Do your research and find out who is in charge of the recruitment – a generalised “Dear Recruiter” or “To whom it may concern” is unacceptable. Don´t shy away from picking up the phone to find out who to address. Also, it´s common to sign your cover letter at the end. Each letter needs to be tailored individually – We can´t stress this enough! Most important for both national and international applicants alike is RESEARCH, to draw a connection between the company you are applying at and yourself. Emphasise what makes you unique and what you are bringing to the table – what´s is your UPS (=Unique Point of Sale)? Why should someone hire you and not one of the many other applicants?

Composing a “German style” CV and having the information where the German recruiter is used to finding it would be a good start. Ideally limit your CV to 1 page (at most 2 pages). Don´t forget to finish off at the bottom with place, date and your signature.

Work experience is highly valued in Germany and job titles are also of importance. Gaps should be avoided, but if you have any that´s no problem either as long as you can explain them.

The German CV can really be seen as a data sheet set out as a two-columned table. In the left column use the following headings: personal details, education and training, professional experience, languages and IT skills, interests/ miscellaneous. Underneath each of these headings on the left, exact dates are stated. On the right side, more specific information is given.

If you have little or no work experience, use the chronological style. If you come with a lot of previous work experience, compose your CV reverse chronologically (which means listing the most recent experience first). Use bullet points to list responsibilities and achievements in these jobs.

Through it is not a must, it is still common practice in Germany to include a professional taken photograph in your CV.

Often applicants have to undergo several rounds of interviewing stages. Initially, there would be a (short) phone call to check you out or proper phone interview before you get invited to an interview in person. The personal interview may take place between yourself and the recruiter and/or between yourself and multiple interviewers (so called panel interviews). If this is the case, pay attention to everyone and don´t forget eye contact with everyone! Reply to questions that the interviewing person asked, but also look at the other people every now and then and don´t ignore them. There could be a 2nd round of another personal interview in which follow-up questions get asked and/or you get to introduced to future work colleagues etc. Assessment Centers are also quite common in Germany, especially in bigger companies or businesses with American structures.

 

Of course, there are always exceptions, but the typical interview could be described as quite formal, pretty much straightforward following a certain procedure (greetings and introduction, quick small talk, questions about your qualifications and career, possibly a working probation, check of languages, possibility to ask questions yourself). The most important pieces of advice for an interview in Germany are being on time (which means being 5min early), shaking hands firmly, dressing appropriately, communicating directly and explicitly, providing examples to demonstrate achievements, carrying extra copies of CV and cover letter. Also, body language is of importance (good posture and sitting straight, smiling, maintaining eye contact etc.).

If you are wondering about the timing of your application or when to apply for a job or an internship best, then there is good news for you! In Germany, you can apply pretty much anytime – most companies operate on a rolling intake basis.

Often bigger companies, especially in the finance and consulting sector, run several rounds of application stages and therefore require an earlier application (6 months ahead of your preferred start date). Small and medium sized companies may only need you to apply 3 months in advance. Especially start-up companies are ok with applications on short notice and/or to start straight away.

Our most important advice to you: Don’t wait for companies to answer you back, but send out applications continuously until you have really secured a position. Finding yourself later in the uncomfortable position to have several job offers, is considered a “good problem”. Be patient, it is actually common to send out 50 and more applications.

Have you ever heard of so called speculative or unsolicited applications? This is something most applicants (also Germans) shy away from because it´s personal, you need to be pro-active and put yourself out there. Does this sound scary at first? Yes, definitely. But it really does works! Be brave and call a company to enquire about possibilities for International students and who to direct such an application to.

Job sites

Different job portals and newspaper ads cater to different audiences and you might waste your time if you do not pick the right medium from the start.

Let´s make you familiar with the most popular major job databases in Germany which are:

Monster

Stepstone

Indeed

Careerbuilder

Jobpilot

JobScout24A

JobWare

Stellenmarkt

Experteer

Jobsuma

Of course, you can go job hunting with the above databases and try your luck there. But our advice to you as an International Student would rather be to use more specialist databases such as:

Berlinstartupjobs

Thelocal

Jobsinberlin

You probably won´t find your dream job there (if you do, well congratulations), but you will identify companies that are generally open to the idea of hiring English speakers.

If you prefer speaking to potential employers in person, career fairs are the way to go. They can be a great chance to get a first impression of the job market in Germany as well as selected companies. Different career fairs take place pretty much all year around in all major cities. If you are focusing on the Berlin area, you could check out the following career fairs:

Connecticum

Bonding

MADE IN BERLIN

Karrieretag Familienunternehmen

Akademika

Konaktiva

Absolventenkongress

You can also get in touch with a company directly or have a look at their website. Big global companies often advertise new jobs on their homepage. Also, you could contact your chamber of commerce in Germany and similar institutions.

In addition, for internships you could also check out the following sites:

Praktikum.info

Meinpraktikum

Praktikumsstellen

For specific graduate programmes and trainee schemes, please have a look at the databases below:

Trainee

Trainee-Gefluester

Absolventa

Living in Germany

Cost of living

In comparison to other European nations, the cost of living in Germany is quite reasonable.

When considering where to move to in Germany, you need to keep in mind that the West and South are the strongest developed regions. Through this means that unemployment rates are the lowest, average net-incomes the highest and most open positions can be found there, it also means that the cost of living there is higher compared to the rest of Germany.

In 2016, the cost of living was highest in Frankfurt, followed by Stuttgart and Munich. Fourth came Düsseldorf und fifth Cologne.

Check out Numbeo for more information on the cost of living in Germany and average prices for individual goods and services. You can also compare companies to each other there.

Many internationals come to Berlin, not only because it is the capital and considered multi-culti and really hip, but also because it is relatively cheap (but: wages are lower and it is a very competitive market). Through the cost of living has risen in the past few years there too, compared to other European capitals Berlin is very affordable – speaking from our own experience here too.

Housing

Sometimes finding accommodation can be tricky and time consuming, so let´s give you some pieces of advice on how best to approach that subject.

One website in English for finding accommodation at reasonable prices is Uniplaces

If you only stay for a limited period of time and perhaps complete a 3-month-internship, you could check out agencies that offer furnished flats and sometimes even a cleaning and/or laundry service (at an extra charge of course). Here´s a good selection to start with:

Nestpick

Fine and Mine

Coming Home

HomeCompany

If you stay for longer than 3 months, the above might be a bit pricey, so you would be better off checking out the following sites.

WG-gesucht

farawayhome

Studenten-WG

Easy-Living

studenten-wohnung

wohngemeinschaft

dreamflat

immowelt

wggruendung

To actually give you a number to work with, we would say that you should calculate approx. 450€/month for renting a room in a shared flat in Berlin.

Getting Around

Bigger cities in Germany have great public transport systems. For example in Berlin, there are U- and S-Bahns, trams as well as buses that take you quickly around the city. At night, there are night buses and at weekends, services run all night long. If you stay for a few months, you might want to check out a monthly ticket which you can get at any selling point. If you prefer getting around by bike, you can get a good value deal in many places for a bicycle.

To travel within Germany, you could either go by rail with the Deutsche Bahn or use Flixbus which offers really low bus fares to all major cities.

Shopping for groceries and eating out

You can do your grocery shopping at many different small retail outlets and supermarkets. There are also weekly (farmers) markets where you can get a reasonable deal for local products. For vegans, vegetarians and people with food sensibilities Germany is a great place as there are options for everyone (at least in bigger cities).

You should also keep in mind that the VAT is relatively high in Germany, at 19% of the net price. For selected goods, such as dairy products or tickets for local public transportation, the VAT only amounts to 7%.

If you want, you can eat our relatively cheap – there are great low budget lunches and dinners available. In Berlin, you can grab a light lunch from 5€+ and dinner from 6 or 7€ onwards. You can get a decent coffee for 1,50-2€.

Culture

Germany offers a lot in terms of literature, theatre and music. Visitors from abroad will soon find that there is a lot to learn about German culture including social customs, religion and art. So get ready for your life in Germany: there is a lot to discover!

Art, music, literature and theatre have a long and proud tradition in Germany. There is a reason, after all, why Germany is also referred to as the country of poets and philosophers. Book fairs, music festivals and outdoor summer cinema make Germany a cultural hot-spot.

Germans are big fans of all kinds of athletic activities. No matter if you like to kick back with a cold beer and watch a soccer game with your friends or if you’d rather get active yourself, you will definitely find your place in Germany. Soccer is probably by far the most popular spectator sport in Germany.

There are plenty of stereotypes and one won´t encounter them all or in high density, but generally speaking you should be prepared for them.

We Germans are said to be rather serious, dour and even humourless. While this is not entirely true, German people do indeed need some time to warm up and keep a polite distance when dealing with strangers. On the upside, once you’ve cracked a German’s hard shell, we warm up quickly and can be great fun!

By foreigners Germans are considered masters of planning as it provides us with a certain sense of security. Many aspects of work life are defined and regulated by structure and therefore we may appear less flexible and spontaneous. Don´t underestimate that Germany is heavily regulated and bureaucratic. Business is considered a serious matter. Many Germans communicate rather directly and straight to the point which doesn't necessarily mean rudeness. Personal and work life are rigidly divided, privacy is highly respected.

German business etiquette is also rather formal, given you are not employed with a young startup company or in the IT industry, the atmosphere there is rather casual.

Social Networking

It is an open secret that most job positions are not advertised. On the contrary, most vacancies are filled by promotion or networking. That’s why the best way of landing that dream job of yours is by building a strong contact network.

It´s never too early to start building a professional network and it continuously needs to be nourished. Often the value of a network will not be apparent immediately, but only years later. 

Professional social media networks worth looking into are LinkedIn and XING. The second is more popular in Germany, but mainly in German. Through many Germans haven´t really embraced the opportunities of such platforms, this seems to be changing rapidly.

Of course, as important as your online network is networking in person. Ok, not everyone is a natural and some of us may be really scared by the idea of getting ourselves out there, but one can start small and take it step by step.

Any bigger city offers great networking possibilities these days, let´s take Berlin as an example. There is something for everyone to get involved in!

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in a nutshell

There are countless possibilities for start-up funding in Germany. The best overview in English you will find here: http://www.germaninnovation.org/resources/entrepreneurship-funding. The most famous startup city in Germany is Berlin, other major hubs Hamburg and Munich.

In order to get a current national overview in English, check here: http://www.gemconsortium.org/country-profile/64

What city makes the most sense for your endeavor depends highly on the industry you are aiming at. A common obstacle is again language – many administrative issues are hard to tackle if you have no one helping you, since local administrations are not able to provide services in English. That might be painful at times but many succeeded anyways. Again, often google (or bing) is your friend. A simple search “Entrepreneurship Germany” or “startup ecosystem Germany” will provide helpful content. For a good but mainly Berlin specific overview in English check here: http://www.businesslocationcenter.de/en/business-location/business-location/start-up-capital. You’ll find information about most relevant aspects of the eco-system like venture capital, incubators, infrastructure, events etc.

Whilst administration often is a burden, the networking possibilities really have to be commended. We talk to many people in Berlin’s entrepreneurship scene and they all stretch one point: networking, networking, networking. There are countless events (check for example www.berlinstartup.events/events in English or brows the pages of local incubators, communities and hubs such as http://factoryberlin.com/about/ or http://www.businesslocationcenter.de/en/business-location/business-location/start-up-capital/education-networks-events). Often they are in English since internationals are an essential part of Berlin’s startup ecosystem. The scene takes pride in being approachable and being helpful – so reach out!

Check as well Facebook groups, LinkedIn, Xing etc. There you’ll be able to establish contacts early on.

France

The perfect French CV

A Resume/CV in France is always a very formal affair and should be impeccable and error free. As for job interviews, they can be pretty formal too. Keep in mind that if a CV can be accepted in English, the cover letter will always have to be in French.

·      write it in French; English is widely accepted as well, but only if you are not fluent in French

·      list the most recent work experience/ education first

·      French take diplomas very seriously, so add everything you have

·      add contact info

·      add special skills at the end

 

QUICK TIPS – CV

1. Don’t lie

2. Don‘t get too personal - Remember the French like to keep their personal and their professional lives separate

3. Don‘t hide where you come from

4. The job section is the most crucial part of the CV so it’s important to get it in order

5. Education, Education, Education… in France they are still taken very seriously, so don’t leave out any of your qualifications.

6. Don‘t hide your language skills

7. The CV should include the following information:

a. Personal information (full name, address, phone number, age, marital status and, in some cases, nationality).

b. Education (only high school or University diplomas; be clear about your knowledge of foreign languages).

c. Working experience (mention position, level and responsibilities, with examples and, if possible, exact dates).

d. Other activities (optional).

The perfect French Cover Letter

The interview is a minefield as your potential boss tries to size up who you are, what you can offer his/her company and whether you are likely to make waves.

Succeeding in job interviews takes research, practice, and persistence. The more effort you put into your interview preparation, the more success you will see in obtaining internship or job offers

·      write in French ONLY

·      always vouvoie!

·      the more formal, more polite you are, the better!

·      end your letter with: “En vous remerciant de votre attention, je vous prie de croire, monsieur, madame, à l’expression de mes sentiments distingués” and sign your name

·      never send a CV without a cover letter

Cultural Aspects

1. Address others using ‘Monsieur’ or ‘Madame’.

2. Introduce yourself using your first and last name.

3. Use a brisk, light handshake.

4. Wear professional business attire, even if it’s Friday!

5. Learn French gestures.

6. Have one side of your business card in French.

Further Cultural Reading: 

Communicaid website:

www.communicaid.com/cross-cultural-training/culture-for-business-and management/doingbusiness- in/French_business_culture.php

Kwintessential website:

www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/globaletiquette/ france-country-profile.html [en]

Cultural Crossing website:

www.culturecrossing.net/basics_business_student.php?id=71 [en]

United Kingdom

Job Search Strategies

Before you start your job search, you want to be in a position to have the proficiency and confidence to make or be informed about your career decision/s. This is where your research skills will be further utilised. It is advised, at the earliest stage possible to:

·      Understand the current labour market, particularly the sector and country you wish to work in,

·      What is the current state of employment for your sector(s) of interest?

·      How does the earnings potential differ regionally (e.g. London compared to Manchester, Cardiff or Edinburgh)?

·      Where in the country is your sector growing or even declining, where is the demand?

·      Can you sustain the living conditions (cost of housing, food and travel to and from work)?

·      What type of lifestyle do you want – will your specialism support this?

·      You will find (on the guide), some data on Industry and Employment trends (at time of writing),

·      Investigate and gather sector information to further your knowledge about the challenges/issues, what are the divisions within the sector(s) and identify what it could be like to work in your sector(s) of interest?

·      Explore people who are doing the role you wish to enter - what does their career journey look like, how have they progressed, and what can they share with you about the sector?

·      Research companies/employers, including SME’s (small, medium enterprises – these accounted for 99.3% of private sector businesses in the UK from the start of 2015), within your sector(s) of interest, what is their position in the market?

·      Where and how do organisations advertise, how do they recruit, what is their process, do they outsource to specialist agencies?

·      Become familiar with recruitment processes; how many stages are there, what is the recruitment cycle time line, what does this involve; online applications, CV and cover letter, psychometric tests, telephone/video/skype interview, assessment centre (group exercises, final interview) and or face to face interview?

·      Prepare to network and use social media; identify who the decision makers are within a company, use LinkedIn and/or Twitter, attend events, use reliable resources to ensure your findings are of value, up-to-date and are they correct?

·      As with other popular destinations, London is a competitive market; it is advised one is prepared to be persistent and resilient to face set-backs and continue searching.

CV

First impressions count. Your CV is a personal sales document, your brand you will be promoting to potential recruiters/employers. The content you add will need to be tailored and specific to the role you apply to, as well as including your unique selling points – what makes you stand out from other candidates. Below are some tips to consider when creating an engaging CV.

·      You must carry out some research; identify what your potential employer requires from candidates. Revisit the job advert; look at the job description including the person specification and employer website. Consider what skills, strengths, qualifications and attributes they seek. Your CV will be assessed according to their criteria, thus ensure your content is relevant and up-to-date.

·      Precision is of importance. Your CV should not be more than 2 pages long. There are however sectors/industries where only a 1 page CV is standard. On average, employers are spending between 5 -10 seconds on a CV, 30 the tops. Thus, keep it short, accurate with clear succinct language. Formatting needs to be clean, with clear sub-headings.

·      Tailor your CV to each role. This is where you will apply your research. Knowing the prerequisites of a role will allow you to tailor your CV to address the employer’s criteria. Do not send a generic CV; employers see thousands of CVs and they will notice if you haven’t tailored yours.

·      You will need to have examples or evidence for each skill/competency, strength and attribute the employer requires. You will need to focus your examples on contributions, responsibilities and achievements and your ability to accomplish what they require you to do in your role of interest. If you can substantiate your examples/facts with numbers, it undoubtedly helps you to market yourself.

·      Ensure you don’t have any gaps on your CV and don’t make up something because you do have a gap. Consider examples from work experience, volunteering, academic work (projects), extra-curricular activities, sports activities, competitions and travel.

·      If you are applying online, it may be that recruiters are using initial computer screening software. Denoting, the software is functioned to select keywords to sift your CV to the next stage. Thus, embed keywords when addressing facts on your CV to show suitability.

·      If you are a career changer, you may want to consider skills based CV – the format is slightly different. You will highlight using skill words (e.g. Communication) as sub-headings, be sure these reflect the job you are applying to. For each sub-heading, you will still need to show examples by the use of bullet points. This could be followed by the sub-headings Professional Experience, where you will list your job titles, employers along with dates; you will also have Education as a sub-heading (listing where you previously studied).

·      Ascertain your grammar, spelling, use of phrases / terminology is accurate. If English is not your first language, get it checked.

Interview Advice

There are various types of selection procedures, some include CV with a cover letter, others applications, some are combined, with telephone / video or Skype interviews, psychometric tests and or assessment centres. Commonly, employers will use a competency based framework to set interview questions to ask all candidates, reflecting consistency ad objectivity to determine if you are the right candidate for the job.

Employers are seeking for you to demonstrate specific skills, knowledge, experience and attributes for the role they have advertised. By using the STAR methodology, it will help one to prepare and convey key responsibilities, achievements and contributions with examples or evidence. STAR can be used not just for interviews, also for completing cover letters and application forms.

STAR, what does it stand for? S - Situation, T- Task, A - Action and R - Results. In order to address specific competencies, this structure will aid you to illustrate detailed answers. Consider a situation you have had where the task(s) you were involved in featured skills you can provide tangible actions for; leading to strong results.

Tips:

·      You need to (in advance), prepare to research the sector, company and role you have applied or are applying to. This should include:

·      Investigating recent stories or news, what are the current trends, challenges, who are the competitors in this sector, use a variety of reliable resources to back-up your findings,

·      Know your employer; read their website, what are their values, strategies, objectives, their place in the market, read what are they tweeting or what do they have on their LinkedIn page,

·      Reexamine the job description & person specification, what are the competencies/skills, experience, qualifications and knowledge required to do the job, Practice interview questions.

·      Strive for good hygiene; comb your hair neatly, don’t over power with strong aftershave or perfume, scents are personal,

·      Avoid bold jewellery, strong make-up colours, keep it conservative for the corporate environment, and even if you know the business is casual/business wear – go professional, it shows determination and respect,

·      Ensure you have the right attire for the interview (colours and style) and that you know how to get to the location; avoid sleeping late, rest well and have an early night,

·      Avoid taking uninvited company (friend, partner, children); if you would like to be accompanied, arrange for a separate location to meet after,

At the interview, be sure:

·      Your mobile is on silent or switched off,

·      Extend a firm hand-shake (before and after the interview),

·      Create a good impression through non-verbal communication by ensuring good eye contact (with all panel members if more than one interviewer), provide cues that you are listening either by nodding or smiling (albeit, not continuously),

·      Ask for permission if you would like to take notes,

·      Ensure you are speaking clearly, succinctly and not chewing gum,

·      If offered, it is ok to accept a glass of water, this will buy you a few seconds, allow you to pause to consider how you will answer,

·      Show enthusiasm and be positive with your responses,

·      Be ready to ask some questions, this show you are eager to learn more about them or the organisation.

·      Regarding Equality Act 2010, if you have disclosed a disability, the employer will be in a position to make reasonable adjustments for you to attend the interview. Some employers have a two tick symbol. What this means is, employers will interview a disabled candidate who meets the minimum criteria and to consider one based on abilities.

Professional and Social Networking

If the idea of ‘networking’ sounds mysterious, it is important to remember, in fact you have been doing it for years. As a student, throughout university, in any part-time work, internships, and every time you make new friends.

It’s what happens when you combine your natural human curiosity and openness with being polite, friendly, interested, kind and appreciative. And it’s natural when you communicate clearly what you want to achieve and, of course, what you can offer to others to assist them in return.

Start with people you already know; family, friends, neighbours, fellow students, academic staff or the careers office, people you play sports or enjoy hobbies with, or who belong to the same clubs as you. Ask yourself if they are well placed to help directly by virtue of their work - or, failing that, if they are well connected with someone who might be useful to your career journey? If so, what would be the best time and way for you to approach them for assistance?

Second best, trade journals, newspapers, directories and publications, plus researching websites of your target companies and professional bodies can be a great way to identify potential contacts, but you need to be savvy in how you approach them.

Here are a few sites to get you started:

Social & Volunteering

Explore societies or events of interest, for example:

·      eventbrite.co.uk

·      facebook.com

·      https://twitter.com

·      timeout.com/london

·      http://www.iamenterprises.co.uk/i-am-networking/

·      ncvo.org.uk

·      citysocializer.com/

Professional

It is recommended to become a member of professional institute(s) your line of work represents, allowing one to expand on professional networking and development, maintaining up-to-date sector/industry knowledge, some examples include:

·      linkedin.com

·      cim.co.uk

·      managers.org.uk

·      bps.org

·      cimaglobal.com

·      cipr.co.uk

Italy

Selection Methods

CV, Cover letters & Applications

What do recruiters look for? A bit like a search engine in those few minutes they crawl your CV for key words, they will focus on your most recent job and job title and likely only read the top part of your CV. If they find a match with the job they are looking to fill, only then will they read the rest, so make the first impression count and tell your story in an easy to read way with our tips:

- Start with a short profile, one or two short paragraphs that tell your story.

- Start from the most recent job, the most recent is the most relevant to the job you are applying for.

- Simplify your job titles, they need to explain what you did to non-technical readers.

- Select your achievements, depending on what job you are applying for you may choose different ones.

- Cool University projects matter, if you are just starting University has been your job for the past 3/4 years!

It may be helpful to make a long list and then select the ones that seem more relevant to the job you are applying for.

It is of importance that your CV is tailored to the prospective employer and to the position you are applying for. Bear in mind that on average recruiters spend around 30-60 seconds on the first reading of a CV. It is therefore crucial to get their attention and communicate the most important information quickly and concisely. Your CV must be brief, clear, consistent, linear, fluid, complete, yet concise, effective and appealing! Punctuation, spacing, fonts and layout, italics, bold type and underlining should all be used with this aim in mind!

CVs can be written either in English or in Italian, but should be written accurately and correctly. CVs written in English will focus the search to those vacancies within companies that operate internationally e.g. the export sector.

Is a Cover Letter important? It's not unusual to treat the cover letter as an afterthought. You, as jobseeker, have put so much time and thought into their resume that they may view the cover letter as nothing more than a required but unimportant attachment.

The point of the cover letter is not to rehash your resume. Instead, a strong cover letter should be a unique page of prose in which you expand upon your most relevant selling points and direct the hiring manager to a particularly powerful piece in your professional history.

After reviewing the job description and doing your research on the company, sit down at your computer and introduce yourself in writing as if you were speaking to a respected relative or colleague.

In the first paragraph, mention the position for which you are applying, and why you are a great match for the role, based on your previous experience, education, etc.

A cover letter should fit on one page and highlight special accomplishments relevant to the position but again do not rehash what you've said in your resume. Instead, use the cover letter as an opportunity to provide one or two brief anecdotes about your work history, and identify key responsibilities or qualifications that you possess.

Keep in mind that some companies use software programs to screen cover letters and resumes filtering for contextual keywords, so be sure to address key phrases you've identified in the job description such as the type of degree required, the number of years' experience needed, specified software skills, organization and communication abilities, project management background, etc.

Be original, avoid the temptation to use cover letter templates or let a friend write your letter for you. Instead, take the time to promote your accomplishments.

Conclude on a high note, close the letter by outlining your next steps, stating when you will contact the office to follow up, and reinforce your enthusiasm for the job.

Interviews: What is MY brand?

Trying to answer that question will give you clarity on who you are, your values and strengths.

We all have many brands depending on the job you are applying for, you may have a personal and a professional brand: your core values and strengths will be the common denominator, the words you choose to express them will adapt to the audience you are pitching your brand to. So how do you go about finding your core strengths and building your brand?

Job Sites

There are many sites you can use for online job searches. It can be useful to visit public organizations and administration offices websites e.g. government ministries, regional government offices, province government offices, municipalities, research institutes, exc.

Here the most popular websites for searching jobs in Italy for Internships, Part Time job and Full time Jobs:

·      www.bacheca.it ·      www.stepstone.it

·      www.cambiolavoro.it ·       www.talentmanager.it

·      www.catapulta.it·       www.cercolavoro.it

·      www.cliccalavoro.it ·       www.infojobs.it

·      www.jobonline.it ·       www.lavoro.org

·      www.monster.it·       www.trovalavoro.it

·      www.linkedin.it ·       www.adecco.it

·      www.manpowergroup.it·       www.umana.it

·      www.gigroup.it ·       www.randstad.it

·      www.4stars.it ·       www.jobadvisor.it

Living in Italy

Cost of living

The cost of living in Italy may vary depending on the area, , the kind of room (single or double) and utilities. It might be useful to budget an amount from € 2,500 to € 4,000 for accommodation over a semester period (in north city as Milan for example). As for the food, generally speaking the average cost for a sandwich and drink close to campus is € 7,00. Considering a semester period, the budget for food in Milan could be from € 750 to € 1,000.

Additionally, students might consider costs for:

·      Personal expenses, from € 1,200 to € 2,400

·      Local transportation, € 120

·      Depending on Interns spending habits, they may have to budget on average of € 200 to € 400 per month if planning on doing lots of shopping, travelling, and other extra activities.

Culture

The essence of Italy is as true today as in centuries past. In short, Italy is a beautiful, cultured and dramatic country which offers a multitude of features that tourists rarely discover.

Milan or Florence, for example, located in the north area are modern and progressive cities, the commercial heartlands of Italy, and headquarters to many of Italy’s multinational corporations and world famous brands.

Milan is the real Italy, from courtyards and window boxes to small and intimate museums, churches and laneways. Milan is a city to explore and a place to reflect.

Milan is a city of trams and smart cars. Where beautifully dressed people ride scooters to work, where thousands of runners exercise daily in the parks. Milan is a city of people. A city full of life. The menus of Milanese restaurants have influenced the world’s finest cuisines. And the creations of Milanese designers have placed Milan alongside New York, Paris and London as a home of global fashion.

Milan is a living, breathing, exciting city. A friendly and welcoming city. A bustling city on the one hand; yet quiet, contemplative and conducive on the other.

Social Networking

In this day and age it is important to understand the value of Social networking and more significantly personal branding. Strong contacts begin with a first impression – you simply want to make a positive personal statement. In a country like Italy, your appearance is significant and most relationships are based on “connections.” Connections expand forthcoming affairs, whether they are used immediately or in the future, but you will always find them coming back to you!

Social networking sites are created to assist in online networking. These sites are simply communities created to support a common interest. Individuals are given opportunities to connect with people in their own community and across the world. In Italy, the most widely used professional social networking platform to date is LinkedIn. Although it may be challenging at first, many more people are now embracing this social tool, and moreover noticing the unmatchable opportunities available.

Start-Ups/ Enterprise Support

From a macro perspective, Italy appears to be among the least proactive country within the innovation-driven countries for the support of emerging companies (to learn more about country classification see the GEM Report, 2014 release – Italy). This can be explained by two sets of factors which, taken together, affect the likelihood of proactive individuals choosing self-employment over more comfortable alternatives like regular employment in large multinationals. First, at a personal level, the prospect of heavy social and legal repercussions in the case of failure tends to deaden the entrepreneurial spirit. Secondly, at a system level, compared to other EU countries such as Germany, the UK and France, Italy seems to provide less support in terms of financing entrepreneurship training and government policies.

However, the north of Italy, including the city of Milan, is an exception to this scenario and does provide opportunities where new business ideas can grow for further development. Observing the area from an ecosystem perspective (with reference to policy, finance, culture, supports, human capital and market dimensions), a growing set of favourable conditions has emerged to support the entrepreneurial process. Among them, contributions from private and public incubators, social communities, universities, venture capital firms and regional-level public programmes can be seen as examples of forward thinking that may lead to a new wave of entrepreneurial support in Italy. The rest of the country is following this trend as well, focusing on region/city specific sectors such as food, arts, tourism, the automotive industry, and so on.

Spain

Job Search Strategies & Networking

Consulting and recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies in Spain mainly deal with temporary work opportunities. These agencies are call Temporary Work Companies or Empresas de Trabajo Temporal (ETT).

Some known consulting and recruitment agencies operating in Spain: Adeco; Antal International; Hays Specialist Recruitment; Net Business Solutions; New-Gen Job Centre; Randstad Spain; Red Talent; Talent Search People, Michael Page.

Personal branding, especially LinkedIn and Twitter

Social media usage is a regular daily activity for many people and the most used social network in Spain is Facebook. Twitter is also extremely popular in Spain, as a local platform using English language to encourage networking on a global level.

Using your personal contacts, corporate recruiters and send your applications to companies in your professional area or to companies of your home country operating in Spain where language and nationality could be an advantage.

Another option is entrepreneurship, trying to launch a business idea or a business project.

Social Networks

Social networks have become a great tool for finding work through the Internet. There is a list of the best professional social networks to find the right work as LinkedIn, Xing, Viadeo, Freelancer, Facebook, Twitter, Meetup, Womenalia, Bebee, etc.

Useful websites

·      Europlacement

·      IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience)

·      GOABROAD Intern Abroad search for international internships; experience in any EU country

·      Quiero un buen trabajo

·      studentjob.es lists jobs and internships for students and graduates.

CV Guidelines

CV structure

The Spanish CV, either physical or digital version, remains one of the main tools for job seekers. CV is the document that every professional must submit to apply for a job regardless of whether you activate your job doing networking, making calls or by entering your CV in professional websites or contacting employment agencies and consultants.

Furthermore, in order to compete with other candidates, you have the possibility to write a cover letter, the second most important document.

Some Firms have their own application forms, thus before sending your own CV check the requirements of the offer you are applying for.

Keep in mind that a short CV is in off, recruitment agencies and HR departments receive hundreds of curriculum, hence no more than two pages are need.

In Spain, editing a CV follows a classical structure (academic experience; internships in companies; professional experience and other information: hobbies, experience abroad, social network and knowledge of software, etc.), although some companies value alternative information according to the professional area. However, it is important to take into account some important facts in a Spanish CV:

·      A photograph is compulsory. A photograph can be included in the top right hand corner. It should not be an official picture but a nice one and in a professional background. Avoid informal and “funny” photographs.

·      Always, start with personal details. The order of other sections could change but it is usual: experience, languages and other professional skills related with computing and finally hobbies and references.

·      According to personal data, the date of birth is required.

·      Usually, Firms requested certificates supporting merits.

·      University degree is compulsory (normally, you do not have to add your transcript of records to the CV).

·      Referees’ details are only required if the employer specifically asks for them. A phrase at the end of the CV such as “Referees can be provided if required” could be write. If you do not have any experience in the job market, it could be suitable to add a letter of recommendation. If you have job experience, a letter from the previous job would be suitable.

·      Language requirement: Spanish and English. Be aware that some companies would request a Spanish CV (see e.g.). Moreover, job options are limited if you do not speak Spanish except in tourism or teaching English. A chance to find an internship is higher if you speaks Spanish. On the other hand, you will miss culture and relationships if you do not have a basic level. Therefore, fluent in both Spanish and English will be suitable. At least a B2 in Spanish will be highly recommended and a C1 in English. Only if you are working in an English environment as in Engineering, Biotech or International firms English will be compulsory, otherwise it will be difficult to integrate yourself in the firm if you do not know Spanish at all, almost a level that would make your internship comfortable and make you feel integrated will be necessary.

If you are going to apply for a post like commercial agent having your driving license could be useful, so added in your CV in the section “other professional skills”.

Tips for CV

·       Language requirement: Spanish and English (more languages will be a plus).

·       Compulsory to include a picture.

·      University degree information is compulsory.

·      Transcript of records and referee´s details are not compulsory, only if required by the company explicitly.

·      Specify your personal data, including e-mail and available phone number.

·       Write down your skills related to computer and informatics, language and highlight your previous work and volunteer experience, if you have any. For CV examples see the guide

According to Miguel Portillo de Antonio, HR consulting from Page Group, the DNA of most demanded candidates in Spain includes skills that -among others- underline a relevant and continuous academic training, an international experience as well as flexibility and teamwork capabilities.

Cover Letter

A cover letter is not always necessary in Spain. Only if requested by the Firm. If you are applying on-line, you will be ask to fill your personal data and/or to upload the CV. On the other side, personal interviews are quite common to test your language skills and your interest on the post.

Tips for Cover Letters

In the case, a cover letter is compulsory keep in mind that no more than a page is needed.

·      Concise and professional style will be required as well as ensure that you do not have any gap in your writing (grammar, spelling…) especially if you are sending it in your first language (Spanish, English…). If necessary, ask for revision to a company or a friend to proof read your documents.

·      Include a professional picture, highlighting your skills, and why you are interested in the post or vacancy. Avoid repeating the information in your CV.

·      Add information related to your academic work (e.g. Edx or Coursera courses on-line) or your stage abroad (e.g. Erasmus program) if you do not have work experience.

·      Highlight your pursuit of professional and personal growth in the Firm.

·      Try to emphasize skills or aspects you consider could make a difference with other possible candidates. For e.g., among the aspect that should be stood out, computing skills are really appreciated as well as language skills or work ethics.

·      If you have experience, you must highlight this fact. Moreover, some previous experiences similar to the position offering requested will be suitable.

·      Never, forget to include your personal data (phone number and e-mail). Ensure you provide the e-mail, which you regularly use. If you are already in Spain, please note your Spanish phone number instead of your home phone.

Interview Advice

As a general advice, punctuality is highly recommended for a good start. Do not forget to try to have a positive attitude and feeling of confidence. A calm attitude will favour a good non-verbal language.

Research the company

Investigate the sector and the company itself before the interview. If you know the background of the company, it will help you to understand better the tasks and internal work.

Get informed

Prepare some answers to the most common asked questions. Some questions are usually relate to motivation to work in the company, your work experience, voluntary experience, personal skills and questions about the new company.

CV copy

Analyse in depth the key points of your CV. It is recommendable to do a list with the bullet points, where you also identify your strengths and weak points.

Dress-code

Get dressed professionally. Be informed yourself about the company dress-code style and policy.

Salary and working conditions

During the interview, it is not very normal to discuss your salary or working conditions the first time you meet face to face with a representative of the company. Discuss it only when the interviewer may ask you.

Body language

After the interview try to maintain contact with the recruiter to keep track of your possibilities. Due to the current job situation in Spain, it can be that you do not receive an answer in the next weeks. In that case, send them a reminder, call them and try to show interest through other ways, such as LinkedIn.

Possible sources of funding for internship abroad

Funding for internships in Spain for Foreign students

The easiest and most convenient way to finance an internship in Spain is to apply for a grants from the Erasmus Plus program directly at your home university.

These grants are compatible any type of financial and in-kind support provided by receiving institution but you should keep in mind that companies are not obligated to pay their student interns and unpaid internships are quite common.

Other internship programs in Spain generally require participants to either live or study in the country and therefore there are not a lot of options for international students to apply for.

On the other hand, you should check the possibility to apply for grants from local, regional and national institutions such as the Ministries of Education and/or Foreign Affairs.

Funding for internships abroad for Spanish students

The easiest way to get financial support for your internship is by applying for an Erasmus Plus grant at your home university. Even though the grant amount may not cover, the total living costs but it will help with the travel and subsistence costs incurred in connection with their traineeship abroad. These grants are compatible any type of financial and in-kind support provided by receiving institution.

There are two programs funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education that students enrolled in Spanish universities (Becas Faro - http://www.becasfaro.es/) and graduates from Spanish universities (Becas Argo - http://www.becasargo.es/). However, it is worth noting that both programs take charge of selecting candidates for their vacancies so you won´t be able to get financial aid or an internship of your choice.

The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the Agency for International Development Cooperation (MAED.AECID) are running the following grants and assistantships programs for training and internships in Spain and abroad: The “University and Scientific Cooperation for Development”, “Art, Education and Culture” and “Assistantships”. For more information, see http://www.aecid.es/EN/grants-and-assistantships/maec-aecid-programmes.

The Fundación Universidad-Empresa has implemented a number of programs combining academic training with internships in Spain and abroad. Furthermore, there is small number of internship programs by public and private entities.

Cultural Aspects

There are some cultural aspects you must take into account when working in Spain as:

Working hours

Average full-time hours are just over 40 hour/ week. The working day varies between firms, but it is common from 9am until 6 or 7pm. However, in summer (June-September) it is conventional to work from 8am to 3 pm (intensive summer schedule).

Lunch & Dinner timetable:

Average lunch hours are from 13:30am until 15:30 and dinners from 9:00pm.

Holidays:

Usually one month per year plus various national holidays. In some companies workers are advised to choose the holidays period among July and August, which is a good opportunity for students to work for a couple of months due to summer replacement in the banking sector and in insurance firms that are looking for sales representatives.

Major Spanish companies linked with Banking, Insurances and Energy are Banco Santander, Telefónica, Repsol YPF, BBVA, Endesa, ACS, CEPSA, Iberdrola, Ferrovial, FCC, and Mapfre.

Tax rates

If you intend to work in Spain, you should register with the national tax office Agencia Tributaria on your arrival. Non-residents are taxed on any income earned in Spain, but if you reside in Spain for more than 183 days in a calendar year, you will be class as a resident for tax purposes and will be ask to declare all your income for that year.

Work Permit

“Permiso de trabajo”: if you have an agreement between two parties, there will not be necessary to ask for it.

Contact body language

When meeting someone for the first time, especially in an interview or when been introduced by other person it is usual to shake hands, but in an informal environment, you will notice that people greet each other with two kisses

Language requirement

Spanish knowledge will be a plus to communicate in the streets, although young generations will interact with you in English, if you wish. Even if Spanish is the official national language, some regions as Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia also have their regional language.

Lunch Break

Some companies rule one hour for lunch, others will have the common areas where you could bring your own lunch-box, and in a few ones the firm will provide a food-ticket (included as part of your salary).

Clothing in the firms

In some firms, as the banking sector, a formal suit is required (jacket suit…)

Social behaviour

Depending on your nationality, you will probably notice that Spaniards speaks quite loud in general, that they are very “touchy” and friendly, feeling probably that your personal space is invade but no intention of “aggression” is behind. To meet after work for a drink, especially in small firms, is not unusual.