Graduate Blog

How to Apply for European Jobs as a Non-EU/EEA Citizen


I’ve applied to over a thousand jobs between October and now, and I’ve heard a variety of favourable responses from Zurich, Paris, and the UK. Here is what I’ve learned.

1. Remember, the companies are seeking you, not the other way around.

Regarding the visa situation—if a company truly wants to hire you, and is a designated sponsor, then sponsorship shouldn’t be a problem. Usually, their key phrases they say to you vary along the lines of ‘not a problem’ and/or ‘most talented’ and ‘the best and the brightest across the world.’

2. As for the small companies that don’t want to/can’t sponsor? Honestly, it’s their loss.

It must be an agonizing time for in-house recruiters of smaller companies unable to sponsor talented international students. Maybe they don’t see how the international students could be unique with added original skills (in my case, being a trilingual double major law graduate with exposure to US Common Law, Civil Law, EU Law, and International Law, with three degrees and national regulatory experience with world-renowned institutions). Or, perhaps they do and the recruiters know full well that they’re losing such graduates to the recruiters’ own competitors in the same region.

Over time, there will be so many of these extremely talented students, and those recruiters of non-sponsorship companies will see their own company flail, and their competitors expand and prosper, adding branches all over the world and becoming internationally prominent (if not already).

3. What about the large-scale sponsors?

Other companies that could sponsor but choose not to—large-scale companies that receive 200 applications a day—your chances of landing a job with these types could be within the 10% range—not very high. A lot of their new hires take up trainee temporary roles. Is that what you really want after spending so much money on your education?

They’re faced with too much choice and sometimes, they exclude so many possible employees that could have so much potential in their company. Again, their loss.

Conclusion: So, what is the aim? For international students, start big.

Apply to over a thousand companies—small, medium, and large international branches, and in at least two different languages. Join at least four career social network communities (Xing, LinkedIn, Careers.Ch, etc.).

Post regularly on private career LinkedIn boards from five different countries of the international company you are interested in.

Do cold applications—submit your CV and cover letter, unsolicited, to the HR department of wherever you are interested. Sometimes, you’ll be lucky and they’ll forward it to your relevant department.

Even if that relevant department doesn’t have any openings, you’ll be entered into their recruitment database and contacted directly if a job does come up. Or if that doesn’t happen, they can, in the alternative, forward your details to a few of their friends in other companies and suggest other places looking to hire.


“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” —Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

About the Author

Laura Pang Laura Pang

My name is Laura; I hail from across the pond--Washington, DC, USA. I completed my studies at a Russell University institution based in England. At university, I was the LL.M EHLP representative. I am the creator of the blog "ce cœur bohème" which details my journey across the world.

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