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Are you looking for a job in Belgium? Here is what you need to know on the country's labor market.

People from across the globe move, every year, to foreign countries in quest of new professional opportunities. It is the same for European Union and non-European Union citizens. However, conditions related to professional expatriation to Belgium differ from one country to another. Hence, they are advised to inquire, beforehand, on the country's labor market and on the formalities which have to be filled in to obtain an authorization to work there.

 Good to know:

According to Eurostat's official statistics, Belgium's unemployment rate stood at 8.5% in April 2014.

Proceedings

Non-European Union citizens have to find a job prior to their expatriation to the country. In fact, you will be required to find an employer who is ready to hire you and, by the same occasion, obtain all necessary permits from local authorities on your behalf. Indeed, Belgium has strict regulations regarding professional expatriation due to its labor market erosion.

However, European Union citizens are authorized to work in Belgium even if they have not yet signed a job contract. But they will have to register with local authorities in the city where they have settled. They will hence be eligible to a residence permit.

Find a job

Many fields are quite open to foreign expertise in Belgium, namely butcheries, bakeries, air conditioning, refrigerating and heating, mechanical manufacturing, construction and architecture, hospitality, electricity and electrical installations, health care, information and communication technology, mechanics and electronics, child care, metal processing, wood works, etc. Hence, you are more likely to be hired in these fields if you are qualified and if you have relevant experience.

You can start your search by checking out job offers on the internet and in classified ads in local newspapers. You may also register with a hiring agency once you are already on the spot. Other workers are simply transferred to a Belgian branch by their company's main branch. In fact, many international companies have a subsidiary in Belgium. Hence, you may try to check out vacancies available if you wish to move there.

If you can read and understand Dutch, you can check out national daily newspapers every Saturday. These, such as the De Gazet van Antwerpen, De Standaard, he Laatste Nieuws, etc, have a special jobs column. But you can also find some foreign newspapers in the country.

You are also advised to send spontaneous job applications to major firms operating in the region. Make sure to have updated your resume and to have written your cover letter as per Belgian norms. Moreover, you can seek help from public employment services such as the Forem for Wallonia, VDAB for Flanders, ACTIRIS for the Brussels and ADG for the German community.

Tailor your resume

Your resume is an essential part of your job application. However, its format varies from one country to another. In general, a resume should consist of two pages and the information should be written humbly, without exaggerating. It should contain your personal data such as your name, address, phone number and email address at the top of the page.

As regards your experience, you should start with your most recent feature, followed by all those which you have carried out so far. Do not forget to outline your previous tasks and responsibilities. You may also give out some basic information about companies for which you have worked, e.g. turnover, number of employees, etc. Feel free to elaborate on your important files and successful projects. If you have graduated recently, you may also mention your internships, professional and personal experiences.

While mentioning your academic training, start with the latest courses you have followed after your upper secondary or higher education, as well as the title of your dissertation, and/or your doctorate and why not, your results. Any additional courses such as seminars or professional training related to the job you are applying for may also be mentioned. Finally, you can integrate your computer and technical skills, as well as languages you can speak and read.

Cover letter

The cover letter is as important as the resume when you are applying for a job. It serves as the candidate's introduction and career goals description. It also describes your personality along with your professional profile, helping the employer to decide if he wishes to meet you or not.

Labor conditions

In Belgium, foreign workers' recruitment is sealed by a written contract. This will be required when it comes to obtaining a work permit for the employee. There are three types of work contracts in Belgium: the fixed term contract, the undetermined contract and the temporary contract which applies to a specific period or mission. However, most contracts are issued in Dutch. Hence, you might need a translation if you do not understand Dutch.

Wages

Wages are negotiated between companies or fields and trade unions. 13.07% of your gross salary will be deducted for social insurance premiums purposes. Moreover, income tax is deducted at source. Rates vary according to your salary and on your number of family members.

 Useful links:

Expat.com - Belgium Jobs
Expat Jobs belgium.expatjobs.eu
Stepstone Belgium www.stepstone.be
Linked In www.linkedin.com
Iagora www.iagora.com
Monster english.monster.be
Go Abroad jobs.goabroad.com
Tip Top Job be.tiptopjob.com

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See also

Leuven, one of Belgium's major cities, is found in the Flemish region. The city offers various career opportunities to foreigners in different fields.
Like Chaleroi, Liège is also a French-speaking city. Being Wallonia's economic center, it offers various career opportunities to foreigners.
Being one of Belgium's major cities, Namur is very conducive to professional expatriation. The city hosts many big, small and medium enterprises.
If you are moving to Antwerp, you will not have much trouble in finding a job there provided you have a good knowledge of the Dutch language.
Charleroi is deemed to be Belgium's key industrial hub. Thus, various job opportunities are available there, even for foreigners.

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