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Finding A Job In Luxembourg

Carlie: Hey there, it’s Carlie with the Expat Focus podcast. When it comes to taking your career to Luxembourg, where do you begin? What are the main industries for expat workers in the country, and what sort of salaries can you expect? Do you need to speak one of the key languages, or can you get by with English?

You’re going to learn all about the Luxembourg job market in this episode. My guest is Amy Amann, a local coach, trainer and consultant. So keep listening for some great insights and advice on looking for work in Luxembourg. What is the job market like in Luxembourg?

Amy: It’s, I think fragmented in some ways. I’m working with people who are here, or they wanna come here. People with quite a bit of experience, of course EUs and non-EUs, as a non-EU myself that’s also a, a special challenge. There’s multi-national companies here, that are quite prevalent, like amazon being the big one.

Of course there’s a lot of banking and finance, so that’s really the tip of the iceberg in terms of the industries that are present here. There’s not a lot of let’s say traditional industry or consumer goods companies here, or B2B, that maybe are in bigger markets. And of course there’s a lot of EU institutions as well. And there’s the, let’s say, public or more Luxembourg market, but that’s kind of not closed, but really difficult to get into for people.

So while there’s the, of course everything’s available in the market here, I think for let’s say the expat, especially without maybe the languages, or with a different, a different profile other than finance, there’s gonna be some challenges.

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Carlie: Does that mean that expats coming to Luxembourg are typically in that finance/banking/professional institution kind of area?

Amy: Yes and no. What I’m seeing in the last few years, a lot of people being brought here are for a lot of transactional functions, or some development functions. But a lot of people coming for maybe specialty areas, so that’s one thing, if you have a special profile, especially like in IT and project management, business analysis, it’s maybe not as prevalent as like the finance industry, but people are being brought here for that.

Carlie: You mentioned at the start non-EU and EU expat job hunters in Luxembourg. Who’s got the advantage in the market?

Amy: You know, first and foremost the EU and the French speaker. That said, for some industries, and we’re seeing like more on fintech and some of the IT industries, there it’s really around the skills, so non-EUs are, you know, they’re welcome to come and they’re in, the companies will bring them over, because a lot of these skills, especially around digitalisation and, you know, workforce 4.0, a lot of those skills aren’t available in the immediate region, so they’re willing to bring people from abroad, I mean literally all over the world, I see people coming over. So again it’s, it’s kinda diverse and fragmented in that regard.

Carlie: So where do you start as a foreigner looking for a job in Luxembourg? What would be your, your step 1?

Amy: When I work with people either in-house, where I’m coaching people externally, I kinda look at 4 key areas that are, I think are important and relevant for any job search. And I think, you know, for here in the Luxembourg market we can kind of adapt them as well, especially for this market. And again, depending on your own profile, just see how you can match into this, this like fragmentation.

And so the first thing is really just to know yourself, and know what you’re good at, know your skills, know, you know, how specialised you are, and looking at your experience, how you can bring that into a new position. So, ‘cause a lot of companies will want people who are plug-and-play. So again, it’s either plug-and-play on your, your language, or a certain specialty area, or a certain background, or maybe some business development you can bring in.

And I think in terms of then, not only knowing who am I and, you know, what can I bring to the table, we wanna put that in the clear format, like in terms of your CV, or preparing for interviews, so that you can really describe your responsibilities, describe your abilities. I think also in terms of one thing I’m seeing here, in many of the companies, of course they don’t want Anglo maybe CV with a lot of results orientation, they want to know, you know, what have you done, and what are your responsibilities? They want to see a very clear, crisp, easy to read resume or CV that’s short, that really highlights your language skills, and your abi-, or any acquisition you’re doing, and of course what you, what you’ve done and what you can bring into the market right now.

Carlie: And will they want your CV in English, or in French, or in Luxembourgish?

Amy: Ah, that’s a good question, yeah. Actually many times I’ve seen job, job postings that are, you know with an English title, but the description’s in, maybe even in English, but they will say fluent French, or Luxembourgish, or German desired. The websites in French, actually sometimes the websites are in even English, but like the information about the jobs are in French.

Still send in your CV in English, because again if you’ve got a great skillset, that might be useful for them, or they’re going into some, some area that’s new, then the language wouldn’t be the biggest barrier. Oftentimes, especially for the say the international environment, English is OK. But having I think, especially the ability to speak French, or to prove your French language ability, that’s really important for a lot of the positions.

Again, maybe not in the big multinationals, but in sort of the smaller companies that are regional or European then French would be useful. In terms of the Luxembourgish, that’s becoming more important, but at this point still largely again the French, because of so many, the French and the Belgian frontaliers working here. The, the border workers.

Carlie: Luxembourg is such a small country. Does that mean it’s also a bit of a, a personable market and a little bit about who you know when it comes to job searching?

Amy: Right, that’s kinda my 4th point about your network. And again there is, I see two sides. A lot of people do get positions over job ads, which again is a classic way to get a position. There’s a lot of direct contact by recruiters, either here in Luxembourg, or especially from some of the foreign recruiters who will find you over LinkedIn. Many of them are based in the UK or around Europe, so, they’re not really obviously recruiting into Luxembourg, so I always recommend to people to have a good LinkedIn site.

And then yes, the networking. That’s sort of the third pillar of, of finding your position. And yeah, we hear stats that, you know, 80% of the jobs in Luxembourg go by networking, by who you know, so definitely I recommend, you know, whether that’s true or not, I recommend people to really cultivate good relationships. Join the Chambers, they are quite active, you know like the British, the American, the Indian, the Polish, Romanian, and pretty much everyone’s represented here.

Or, other professional or networking organisations, like I’m on the Board of the Network, which is the oldest English-speaking networking organisation for professional women, so we’re always welcoming people to come and get to know other people and, you know, just get to know people who are active in the market and either need a job or need to fill a position. There’s a lot of other events like on EventBrite, and meetup groups, that maybe aren’t so much specifically for networking per se, or for you know job search, but just to get to know people is always a good way.

So definitely, you know, getting out and getting to know people, and, you start to find your network and find people who are like-minded, and there’s always someone who knows someone. So it’s like, definitely that’s a big thing here as well.

Carlie: This is always a bit of a sensitive one, Amy. When it comes to salaries, and what you can expect in Luxembourg, I know it’s one of the more expensive countries in terms of cost of living.

Amy: I think that’s a big minefield for a lot of people, especially those who have been working in Europe, or are coming from the US, Silicon Valley, you know, with really good, great skillsets, but, and according salary to that as well. And that’s one thing that also was for me and for some other people kind of a small shock or surprise in Luxembourg, that the salaries aren’t that high.

You know, there’s a lot of promotion on, you know, the, the country promotes itself as having a high cost, a high quality of living, and a high salary rate, but it’s also very expensive to live here. And I’m finding, it’s interesting because some of the salaries that are, are coming out, a recent study I saw by [unclear name 00:08:59] which is the National Statistics Agency, showed recently that the average salary for the French border workers is €47,000. Average for the Belgian border workers €53,000, and for the German €56,000. Remember that includes the foreigners who live in those countries.

And so I mean, you know we’re looking at, I mean the average salary in Luxembourg, you know, across the board, is €60,000. And when I’m looking at some of the, let’s say, typical companies, normal companies, and, excluding the public service, which is largely not open to most foreigners, you know there is some opening up but most companies, mid-range specialist or a manager role, you’re looking, you know, I’m gonna give you a rule of thumb, like €50,000-150,000. OK, that’s a big span. But it’s a pretty good benchmark for, let’s say, …

Carlie: That’s a very big span!

Amy: Yeah, yeah, and of course it’s depending if you’re a specialist, you’re a manager, your team role. I think, you know, looking at some of the man-, product management roles, or some of the back-office roles, €50-60,000 is not an uncommon wage. Which for a country the price point of Luxembourg is, is good, but you’re, it’s not that great. That said, some of the, these salaries I’m describing now might be base rate. So there would be additional things like a bonus, or stock units, or you know something else to increase overall compensation. Plus things like lunch vouchers, parking, and maybe transportation passes.

Carlie: I was going to say, I know that the, in the USA for example it’s not exactly known for its, its worker benefits in terms of generous annual leave and pensions and healthcare. What can you expect in Luxembourg?

Amy: Right, so the typical, or the standard leave is 25 days. Most of the say finance industries have 30, maybe, 30-35 days, with some special days they may give, or personal days. So it’s actually quite, quite good in terms of, you know, your annual leave and the public holidays.

Other typical benefits like I said would be maybe the lunch vouchers, and of course transportation is actually, and also going back to the leave, a fairly good maternity and personal leave scheme. It’s, was redu-, it was revised actually this year, 2018, so if you, you know, have a child, you get certain days as maternity leave has increased, it’s actually, you know, paternity leave, so the father can also take time off as well. Or this, you know, a second, a second partner. So that’s actually been more beneficial to get people to take their family leave. Plus additional family leave days, like if your child is sick or has additional obligations. So I think overall it’s a fair-, it’s a very good family-orientated society.

Carlie: Amy, what if it’s a situation where you’re the trailing spouse? Your partner has, has got an opportunity in Luxembourg. You’re coming too, and you need to find work, or you, you wanna find something that’s going to obviously get you more integrated and, and into this community.

Amy: Right, I’m working with quite a few trailing spouses, and again there’s kind of that EU/non-EU, not divide, but that sort of you know, first separator. There we recommend to look at your qualifications and skills, and especially if you need your qualifications recognised by the government, that can be done. And, classic, like in many countries, things like medical professionals, or where there’s a certain licensure, you might need to either get additional training, or maybe fully blocked from the market, or have to go into it by the side, so that’s of course a reality to look at. Teaching professions, that’s very protected here in Luxembourg. Almost restricted to Luxembourgers, so again, something that maybe people would do in many other countries, is…

Carlie: As in teaching English, or…?

Amy: Teaching in the school system, right? That’s more restricted in the Luxembourg school system. That said, there are some of the international schools which do take the qualified teachers, or maybe substitute teachers depending on, you know, their situation and your own abilities as well.

For going into, let’s say, a regular company, there, it’s kinda the, the classic things around the networking, getting involved, maybe doing some volunteer work, getting out, and that’s what I’d recommend to people also not just only do the volunteer work on the social side, but that’s why, again going back to the networking and professional side, with the Chambers, with the professional organisations, you’re gonna get more exposure to people who are looking for great skilled people. So, that’s one thing I, you know, talk to, talk to you know I guess women are the classic trailing spouses, to get out and maybe away from the purely social networking side.

Carlie: Amy, how can you make sure that your networking and your socialising and your building of contacts in a place like Luxembourg doesn’t just exist in that foreigner expat bubble? How can you really break in to be making connections with locals?

Amy: That’s a good question, because, I talked about fragmentation, and that’s also in even the expat community, you know, there’s the groups for the Americans and the Brits and the Poles and the Romanians and the Indians. And that’s what we’re seeing at the Network, that there’s a lot of activity, and we’re doing things in parallel, and is it really helping move say the foreign population, which is you know half of the population of Luxembourg, is it really moving us forward? And so I would say no, get out, get to know other, other organisations.

They’re easy to find on Facebook, on, you know, meetups, or they’re, they’re very transparent, they’re just out there. The language is an issue, but if you learn, start learning French, or learning Luxembourgish, or get involved in a community organisation, they’re happy to have foreigners come and try. So if you’re getting, going out and you’re, you know, being involved in a community organisation, whether it’s, you know, some sort of community service, or even your local gardening club, they’re happy to integrate you and start to get to know you, if you wanna get to know them.

So that’s one thing where it takes a bit of courage. It takes sometimes a bit of energy, to go out there and get out of your comfort zone, but definitely I recommend that. And in terms of some of the other more professional organisa-, or professional networking events, oftentimes they will have a translation service. It’s maybe not always super-advertised as such, but if there’s a topic you’re interested in, definitely sign up for it and try going for that, because there’s a chance to, you know, to hear the translation, or even if you understand a bit of it, you can always of course meet up with people and speak your own language afterwards as well during the, the after hour, the cocktail hour.

Carlie: Will expats and foreigners find employment support from the Luxembourg government?

Amy: ADEM is the, the national, the employment agency, ADEM. So, they do offer quite a bit of information in French, German, Luxembourgish, and now recently they built up their English website. Most of their support staff will speak English. That said, the support is limited, the financial support is limited. If you’ve only paid into their system I think for 6 or 12 months, so that’s a limit there in terms of financial support.

And in terms of job search support, it is limited, actually that’s one thing they largely have been doing is focusing on more let’s say the blue collar, or lower skilled, or mid-level positions. But now they’ve, in the last year because they realised there is more highly qualified foreigners and who also may not speak one of the local languages, there is more of an effort to collaborate with some of the higher level let’s say white collar recruiters around Luxembourg to support job seekers.

So they will offer, especially if you go to ADEM and get registered with them, they’ll offer support to take language lessons, at a very reduced rate, which is good, at the National Language Institute. And they’ll offer some support, maybe not always financial, but in terms of recommendations of some of the training facilities, from lifelong learning, and some of the Chambers that are offering more professional and personal development.

Carlie: And how difficult is it to transfer your existing qualifications, or have them recognised in Luxembourg?

Amy: For people with most of the let’s say European educations, and say classic Anglo education, from you know America, Australia, UK, fairly, fairly easy, if it’s a Bachelor, a Master, you know, they have their tables and they have their, you know, registries of the major universities and major degrees. Otherwise you’ll need to go to the, the government loc-, office for your qualifications recognition, to submit a profile of the education you’ve taken, and get a recog-, like a recognition of that. So that will take some time.

Carlie: Amy, I’m curious in your line of work, what do you see job seekers in Luxembourg struggling with the most?

Amy: I think a couple of things crop up there, Carlie. One is about knowing, so it’s like knowing their identity in who you are and how you fit in. Knowing the market and what’s out there, again, and seeing where can you fit in, because there’s maybe a lot of places that you won’t cut it, and so, you know, it’s why I try to find, work with my people to say, you know, where’s your niche, and find that your niche, and find your gig, and then you’re good. And especially for people who are in industries like STEM, you know, there’s not a lot of science technology here, other than in the IT, but a lot of the classic science fields, so they’re more non-traditional. Or marketing, not very traditional.

So there’s a challenge there, again, getting out, getting to know people, and being maybe open to going lower-level, is a reality a lot of people, especially with good experience, you know, 10+ years, are facing with, just to get their foot in the door. That’s one thing. I think another thing too is in terms of the, the job search process, and the company process itself, or you know the organisational culture. Sort of that, what I call the identity piece. That’s also, of course once you’re in, you’re gonna see more once you’re in the company, but that’s something I’m seeing, people not struggle with, but it’s maybe something they haven’t thought about so much.

You know, a lot of the culture here, it’s, even though we’re quite international, quite multinational, a lot of companies have a fairly strong culture that is flavoured by the frontaliers, or the [unclear German word 00:20:04], so the border workers from France, Belgium and Germany, so they constitute a big portion of the staff, but they’ve worked abroad so much, so they bring a lot of their own work culture and habits. And I think it’s one thing when we go into, you know, France, or Germany, or you know into an Asian culture, we really prepare ourselves for that culture. And we can see a more distinct difference between that culture and our own culture, or our own personality. Here in Luxembourg the sort of multifacetedness makes you to, require you to be really flexible and deal with a lot of different dynamics.

Carlie: You could have a manager who is French, or you could have a manager who is German, and both communication and management styles might be so different from the other.

Amy: Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, it’s a real dynamic melting pot.

Carlie: It must make it such an exciting place to work in as well, though.

Amy: Exciting, yeah definitely! The search, keep yourself focused, keep yourself going, get out there, don’t go it alone, especially if you’re not here yet. Get yourself informed, and maybe start making some contacts already. Get your LinkedIn profile up and polished, and also in terms of, you know, when you’re coming here, be prepared for the cost of living. The salaries might be high, but the cost of living is quite high, and housing will be a lot of your expenses as well. But it’s a great place to live, it’s a lovely country. You’ll meet lots of different people, and if you’re open to different people and different sort of ideas and mentalities and the start-up scene here, it’s a great opportunity right in the heart of Europe.

Carlie: That’s it for today. If you wanna share your experiences of Luxembourg, or ask Amy any questions, go to expatfocus.com, follow the links to our forums or facebook groups. Remember to check out our other episodes, covering all aspects of expat life. You can find them on iTunes, or your favourite podcasting app. And I’ll catch you next time!

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