Post-Brexit job search

Post-Brexit Job Search Tips

I wrote a post in 2019 about the impact on talent in the U.K. as both E.U. nationals start to repatriate or return to another parts of the E.U. and and Brits look for jobs in Europe.

One element that many British nationals seem not to have fully appreciated is that they now have third country status requiring a more vigilant process around obtaining visas for right of residence and work.

Since 2021 after the expiration of the Withdrawal Agreement, all UK nationals will need a work permit to work in most EU countries. In most cases you will also need a job offer from your chosen country so that you can get a visa to move there.

Obviously if you have access to passport of an EU country your problem is solved!

Digital nomads and entrepreneurs

Some countries are offering Digital Nomad Visas with each geography having its own conditions and regulations. If you are in a sector which facilitates remote working check out the countries which interest you most.  Greece, Spain and Portugal are very popular destinations.

Most countries have strict requirement around the ability of a Digital Nomad to demonstrate  they have sufficient financial income to sustain themselves and any family members to avoid becoming an economic burden on the state. Digital Nomads should check the small print especially around minimum earnings for each country. Spain requires €27,792 for example with additional amounts for dependents. Also pay attention to health insurance conditions especially post COVID.

A Digital Nomad visa applicant usually needs:

  • An eligible and valid passport
  • Proof of a steady remote income.

Many countries with Digital Nomad visas may require the payment of an application fee.

Also investigate cost of living comparisons. There can be many hidden costs in international moves which vary from one geography to the next.  You can do that here.

Here is a list of countries which have Digital Nomad offerings.

Start-Up Entrepreneur Visa Netherlands

The Dutch start-up visa is a residence permit for people from outside the European Union (EU), who are looking to start an innovative business. The start-up visa is valid for a maximum of one year.  During that time, you’ll be expected to produce or introduce an innovative new product or service under the guidance of an experienced facilitator.

A key requirement will be to demonstrate financial solvency. At the end of year one, you can apply for a residence permit on a self-employed basis or a regular residence permit including the endorsement ‘Work is freely permitted’ (Arbeid is vrij toegestaan).

Post Brexit job search tips

Otherwise the solution is to look for a job. In response to the number of people who have contacted me in recent weeks who are not Digital Nomads or entrepreneurs, here are some post Brexit job search tips.

  • In demand skills

If you have in demand or scarce skills then the job market will still be buoyant for you.  Just apply in the normal way and the company will arrange visa sponsorship. Set up alerts for EU based companies to check matches. Optimise your LinkedIn profile and if appropriate ( you may not want to alert your current employer) state that you would be open to working in Europe.

You can also network with EU based head hunters who specialise in your area of expertise. Remember we work for the client and may not have suitable openings. Also factor in that at the moment the market is flattening out.

  • Ask for a transfer

If you work for an international company in the UK ask for or a Europe based position or apply for a transfer to one of their subsidiaries in a European location. Build up network connections in your country of choice and look for a sponsor in your preferred location.

  • Join a European company based in the UK

If you take a longer term view you could even join try to join a European company in the UK with a view to an international assignment at a later date. Sometimes companies will pay for language lessons and take care of all the visa arrangements. Others only offer local contracts, but it’s still worth a shot.

  • Learn a language

In the meantime for any Brit who wants to move to Europe, I would strongly advise you to start a language course. It is true that many companies have English as a lingua franca, but knowledge of a local language is a bonus to help with onboarding and cultural integration.

Britons lag behind the general level of language capability with only 36% of people speaking one foreign language. Many of these will speak Asian languages or dialects and Arabic. This compares to 56% in the EU overall. Many countries insist on knowledge of the local languages as a requirement for permanent residency. Check that out early on in your destination of choice. In some cases it is B2 level, advanced intermediate, which in practical terms is almost fluent.

People I spoke to in 2019 invested in intensive language courses and some have already made a successful transition. Others found their language capability lacking and struggled.

Applications to companies located in Ireland have seen a significant up tick. Many British people particularly in the 18-24 age group see this as a first step in a longer term plan to accessing the EU market.

  • Target companies which have already relocated

Find out which UK companies are relocating or have relocated to Europe. Many businesses set up European bases to avoid the red tape of being a third country.  Find out if they are seeking new talent and will bring people in or will focus on the local market.  Create a focused search and build a compelling narrative around why you should be part of that move and what value you can add. If there is any possibility that the organisation might have to sponsor you as an overseas worker then you have to be even more convincing.

The bar sadly has now been raised for British candidates.

  • Extend your network

If your network has been predominantly local, now is the time to extend your range and reach out to network contacts located in EU countries. Alumni networks can be a good place to start, professional associations with branches in European locations and British groups or Chambers of Commerce located in the regions of your choice will also be helpful.

Start to develop a picture of what is going on locally and tap into local advice.

  • Sign up for alerts

Sign up on various job portals that advertise jobs throughout Europe. Find the one that best match your educational skills and language abilities. LinkedIn also offer this facility by geographic region.

At the same time become familiar with tax and social security systems of the places you are interested in so you are fully informed about local fiscal systems.

  • Don’t expect miracles

One of the important things to remember is that recruiters and head hunters work for clients. If they have an opening in line with your background qualifications and experience, any recruiter would usually be pleased to consider you. Now, with potentially additional effort and cost required to sponsor an overseas worker (which is what you now will be) it is possible that British candidates will not be given the same priority.

If you have an exceptional skill set or one that is in short supply that will make a difference. We have been in a candidate driven market but that looks set to change.

Otherwise you will be treated like any other third country national. In summary don’t expect miracles. Be strategic in your applications and think long-term. It may take a couple of stages to get where you want to be.


Note: I have also been contacted by a number of Americans and the same conditions should apply. However, the US tax system needs special attention and I would advise you seek professional advice.

If you need help with post Brexit job search tips – get in touch

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