Job search in Europe: 7 lessons learned

10092009373-curtainWhat’s up in Russia

Russia’s economy was based on the mining of raw materials for at least last 40 years. Despite of the excellent market conditions in 2000-2010 and huge cash reserves, no projects were launched to improve the structure of the economy, and as a result we are observing the Colossus begin to crumble his clay feet. In the next 10 years, Russia’s economy will not recover, even if the government will take drastic laws today turning the trend 180 degrees. During the last 20 years of growth, many international companies opened offices in Russia, hired many local employees, and it turned out to be really nice people who have been trained and understand how modern business works. Now offices are closed. A valuable resource is on the street now, they all are ready to work, but they really have no place to apply their skills. Most of them would be happy to continue working in the company, in almost every country.

I am the same. I want to live and work in Europe. Since October 2015 I am trying to find a job. During this time I became an expert on the labor market (in my field, of course). And that’s what I’ll tell you.

(all the opinions are mine)

What are the really working options to relocate

  • If you are a Jew, Israel is waiting for you.
  • If your parents were able to go to America and gave birth to you there, then you have citizenship, and the US is waiting for you.
  • To marry (option for young girls).
  • If you worked as a civil clerk in public sector and stole about a million dollars, then you can invest in almost any country and to obtain a residence permit (by the way, all the officials did that #panamapapers).
  • If you have close relatives to one of these categories, then you can try to reunite with the family.
  • If everything is bad in the country, you can get up 5 times in a single picket with any claim to be arrested 5 times, illegally cross the border, and to declare yourself a political refugee in Europe (it is, however, not give the possibility to work).
  • There is an option to go to a beautiful India and work out remotely as a freelancer.
  • Some companies have taken out their employees. Well done!
  • You can also take part in a green card lottery (last year there were 250 000 applications from Russia to the 4000 green cards).
  • You can also go to work in Australia in the agricultural sector!

As you can see, there are ways. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to act so. Especially high skilled workers, which I’ll talk about.

What do the US and EU want?

Of course, I do not know what they want, I can only guess. I am sure that most of citizens want a quiet life, free from any problems. They have enough refugees from Syria, and in general, the government is not welcoming migrant workers from other countries. Therefore, the rules for obtaining work visas are made so complex that often companies do not go for it.

So, to get a visa in the US and UK is almost impossible mission because of the complexity of the paperwork. In France, with the complex rules of dismissal of employees, no one will take the headache to hire someone from Russia.

At the same time, the EU runs behind the USA in high-tech areas of data science and data driven business with about 3 years lag. Education systems do not produce a sufficient number of experts in these countries. As a result, the gap is not reduced naturally.

About 10 years ago, EU leaders understood the problem, and introduced Blue Card — the system by which companies can invite highly qualified staff from other countries. However, the HRs of the majority of companies are still not aware about this option.

In what countries it makes sense to look for a job for Russian citizen

It is realistic to find a job for Russian citizen in 4 EU countries: the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. The conditions for employers in other countries are so complex that, as a rule, they are taken to hire only the employees of the company, which for more than a year worked in the Russian office, and have proven their value.

Anyway, if the recruiter has a choice of 3 or more candidates, the Russian candidate is at the end of line by default.

My search

During the October-March I applied to about 300 positions in the Netherlands and Germany, and to 200 in other countries. I sent a resume of two different types to the position of Principal (or Senior) Data Scientist (did not sent to pure programmer vacancy) and Marketing Director or VP of Marketing (taking into account the fact that I was interested in data driven marketing position, so I didn’t look to the job with PR as the main activity). Of course, I did not send resume for positions that require knowledge of German / Dutch fluent or excellent. On average, it turns out approximately 3 CV per working day.

As a result, I had 5 conversations on the phone with a recruiter from the company, 4 conversations with recruiters from agencies, and 4 Skype-interviews with prospective managers. And no job offers.

Industry and other quirks

Being data driven marketer and data scientist, I do not depend on any industry. Digits are the same everywhere, and marketing techniques aren’t of big variety, especially now, when everything is unified rapidly. So, of course, the demand of pharmaceutical companies to the applicant to have mandatory medical degree and experience in the pharmaceutical industry looks archaic. Similar problems affected many utilities, chemical, insurance companies, and banks. If you have no experience in the retail sector, it is likely that you will not be considered. Typically, these resumes are screened out by robots.

Employers’ reaction

Everywhere in Europe resume processing assigned to the robots.

Robots send you confirmation that the resume is received within a couple of minutes. This does not mean that your resume will be further reviewed by a human recruiter. Most likely, this CV will be automatically recognized as unfit. The reasons for this are likely that some keyword is missing from the text, or format of the document is unacceptable. As I have already said, Russia is eliminated by robots everywhere. Also, after the Russian law on personal data, some international companies do not allow a user with Russian IP-addresses to enter their websites. Unfortunately, more creativity in your resume design makes it impossible to understand by robot. My advice: get 3-4 free/trial online systems and fix-load your resume up until the output will get a picture of you that describes your image as you would like, at least approximately.

I suggest that 80% of resume are not read by live humans. It varies from country to country. Thus, nobody reads your application (from Russia) in about 90% of cases the UK companies; in 70% cases you would be filtered out in Germany and the Netherlands. Compared to Russia, where 99% CVs are not read, Europe looks more attractive in this regard.

As soon as a robot or a human reviewed your application, you receive a reject note. It goes something like this: «We are impressed by your experience and your skills, but we received a lot of feedback and find the candidate that suits us better in all respects.» A couple of times I have noticed that it is a blatant lie — just they didn’t read your resume and sent back a standard template. As a test, I sent a false CV consisting of 1 record, with no experience, and at the same time another indicating the marketing department management experience in all European IBM — the answer came identical. Some positions are on company web sites for several months after that – still opened. Interestingly, that simultaneously recruiters complain of a lack of candidates of my two specializations.

In Canada and the United States they seems to be too lazy to configure automatic responses robots. Auto answer is very rare. Your resume fails in 100% of cases, going directly to trash. How to get there? I do not know. Perhaps only to call.

It is interesting that once entering the conversation with a real person (the recruiter), all doubts from his side disappear, and he began to actively promote me to the next level.

Number of vacancies

Approximately 30 new jobs for Data Scientists appear every day in two countries where I searched more intensively (NL & DE).

Every day, there are approximately 250-300 new positions in marketing. About 200 of them: student interns required. Approximately 80% of the remaining are for «marketing managers», that is in fact the very lowest in the marketing structure. However, about 20-30 new items every day are interesting. It is clear that the majority of them require excellent knowledge of German / Dutch language.

Resume databases

If you uploaded your resume to the database of the company or agency, in the hope that someone will pay attention to you when looking for employees, it is vain hope. Even if somebody looks, he will not contact you. You should exercise your own initiative.

What are the best resources for job search

  • Glassdoor — you can’t configure an adequate inquiry, a lot of garbage comes.
  • Monster — not very many jobs, but you can somehow adjust relevant alerts.
  • Indeed — consolidate from different sources, a lot of jobs.
  • LinkedIn — turned out to be the most appropriate consolidator that can be adjusted well. At least, I did. Most suitable jobs I found were through LinkedIn. It is also recommended to prepare your resume in it. It can be imported by 80% of systems, you do not need to write 100 times the same path of your life. In addition, you can import pdf, exported from LinkedIn, into the remaining 20% of the systems, and it is recognized — expanded in the desired fields. Premium Account will not give you anything, do not get fooled.

7 Lessons Learned

  1. The US and the EU don’t want Russian experts in high technology came to them in the country and showed how to work. Especially sad that Europe can’t overcome the gap with the United States, but snobbish deprives us of the opportunity to help it.
  2. Robots are taking over the world. Human recruiters are useless already right now. However, in this case the robots interfere all. In particular, they will ignore applications from Russia — CVs never reach humans in Canada and USA, for example, and very rarely — in EU.
  3. Main task when searching for job is to achieve the pass through the robot. This is a separate skill; it takes a lot of energy. In the end, the employer gets a good specialist — robot-fighter.
  4. None of the recruiters will help you. They forget about you in 2 days after the conversation with you. There are rare exceptions. Very rare. My absolute error was in attempts to submit application on the position of the lower level. No any recruiter (out of 500) did tell me about it!
  5. Change of industry specialization is impossible when you change work in Europe. You can never adjust IT systems for physicians, if previously worked with the IT systems of the bank.
  6. The narrow specialization of every European prevents the whole of Europe to do more. Europe lacks people with wide eyes. In this respect, of course, Russian employees would help, who usually combine knowledge of several specialties. Knowledge may not be very deep, but the synergy of their use greatly increases efficiency.
  7. Finally, advice to everyone: try to communicate directly with the head of an executive who is looking for employees (how? Ask something easier). At least that helped me: 4 direct contacts drove to 2 interviews.