October 20, 2014
Brussels hosts more than 100.000 persons working in EU affairs. Only 50% of the jobs are to be found in the EU institutions. The other 50.000 EU actors work at industry federations, consultancies, media, corporate organisations, non-profit organizations, think tanks, region and city representations. The objective of these entities is to advocate and communicate their views or the views of their members as stakeholders in EU affairs – and they need employees to accomplish this, providing a world of opportunities.
As Europe’s capital, Brussels has an a-typical and specific job-market. It hosts sectorial, national, regional, and international stakeholders that, together with the EU Institutions, make up the so called “Community of EU actors”. Statistics show that 5.000 jobs from all levels (start- mid- and high level), are available every year, due to the dynamics of the Brussels EU job market.
It’s a paradox, but 95% of private sector recruitment in EU Brussels is done by people who have no training or professional experience in terms of HR. There are Secretary Generals, Directors, and Consultants who lead small companies (most of them with a team of less than 10), also taking care of the recruitment process. But whether it is good or bad: it’s reality!
Given the particularities of the employers and the intercultural environment, the issue that often is very confusing is which ‘signals’ can you give that make the difference in the majority of cases. ‘He studied law’: means that he understands legal mechanisms; ‘she did an MA in London’: means she is perfect in English; ‘he was an MEP assistant’: means that he has good political connections’; ‘she was active in NGO as a student’: means she knows how to work without too many comments and questions.
These are thoughts that can occur in a 30 second time-frame when a CV is read, or rather: is scanned. A person will not spend more than 2 minutes looking at a CV; a 5 minute delay to a meeting can even shorten this time and can be fatal to your application. There are mental filters making selections, which eliminate CVs, in order to have the ‘best’ in the micro-system that is Brussels.
After I obtained my PhD in International Relations and European Studies, with a specialty in EU Communication, I developed a course called “EU Communication Techniques”, which I teach at universities in Brussels, Gorizia (Italy) and also at Romanian universities. It’s a pleasure to meet students who are passionate about EU studies, most of them without even being in Brussels (yet). An idea for the European leaders would be to launch a New Education Programme, in which they provide funds to universities which offer EU studies to bring the students of those programmes to Brussels for (at least) one week of intensive seminars. The agenda of these visits should not only include EU institutions, but also contact with EU actors in the private sector – to get a feeling of the complete Community of EU Actors.