article image
Career blogs

Expand your boundaries, find a job abroad!

Work experience in another country can increase your career chances in both industry and academia, especially in the long term. Just a few years abroad will broaden your horizon and increase your growth potential. A lack of foreign experience can be a disadvantage when applying for grants, and some positions will even be out of reach. So expand your boundaries and find a job abroad.

Some people go to another country because of a romantic idea to start something new; others because they fell in love with a foreigner, but one of the most important motivators are enhanced career chances. Since international collaboration is increasing, the possibility of international mobility is increasing as well. Because the ‘Life Sciences’ is a main topic in most countries, it is in particular a very international sector. Especially, in more specific industries where qualified personnel on a national level are limited, companies and institutions have become more and more interested in international talent.

PhD projects differ internationally
If you are looking for a PhD in another European country, you could for example visit Studyportals or national variants such as Working in Denmark or Research in Germany. these websites offer tens of thousands international PhD positions. There are several elements you should take into account when looking for a PhD position: In addition to location and subject, you should determine whether the project is open or predefined. In the UK, for instance, PhD positions are often predefined. Within these set programmes, different PhD students work on the same projects. In an open project you are free to choose your own subject. The amount of funding that a PhD candidate has available to run his project differs from institute to institute. In some countries PhD projects are mostly financed and you will receive a salary, in others it is common to bring your own funding and sometimes even pay tuition.

There is a European code of conduct to ensure that PhD candidates are treated well. Check whether the University you are interested in has signed this code. Furthermore, it is important to know the status of a PhD candidate in a specific country. The status of student or employee influences your potential granted pension rights or the level of your salary. The duration of the PhD trajectory differs per country and varies from three to five years. As most publications are generated in the last period of the PhD trajectory, the extra year(s) could benefit your publication rate.”

Be knowledgeable about the local customs and language
To increase your chances for an international career step, make sure you learn the local customs and language. Without any knowledge of the national ways and language, you will be lost. Although some people may speak English perfectly, they often expect you to learn the basics of their language. This however depends on the country and work environment. The academic field for instance, is increasingly international and more and more research groups have English as their standard language.

Take the specific application customs into account
One of the biggest mistakes people make, is thinking that translating your CV into English is sufficient. The most important step is getting to know the specific application rules of the country. Even countries with a culture quite similar to ours, have very different application customs. For instance in Belgium, the CVs are far more detailed. Employers expect data of your previous jobs, such as whether you had your own office. Also the use of a photo on your CV is valued differently per country: in the US it is forbidden; in France it is hardly used, while in Germany in a standard format for your CV a photo is specified. The way job interviews are conducted differs a lot as well. In the US you have to be extremely confident and give the impression that if they do not hire you they make a terrible mistake. In Australia on the other hand, that kind of behaviour will not be appreciated. In Europe avoiding eye contact could be seen as a lack of interest or confidence. While in Asia it is considered a way to show respect. In the Netherlands we often mention extra-curricular activities to show our skills. In other countries it may be uncommon to address these activities, especially when they are not related to your studies. So before you expand your boundaries, make sure you are prepared.


Do you want to learn more about (international) career opportunities? Or want to learn more about the life science sector?
Then visit our career event:
Our vacancy website:
Or our website with more career articles:


Back to the overview

Stay up to date with the latest news and jobs

Would you like to receive the latest jobs, career advice and/or news about BCF Career Events and courses in your e-mail box? 

Sign up for the BCF newsletter

Create a job alert

Do you want to receive the latest industry trends & developments in your e-mail box?

Sign-up for the free BiotechNEWS magazine


Upcoming events

BioBusiness Summer School

BioBusiness Summer School

  1. Amsterdam
  2. 24 - 28 June 2024

Jumpstart your business career!

Dutch Medicines Days

Dutch Medicines Days

  1. Oss
  2. 16 - 17 October 2024

The premier annual conference that unites professionals in pharmaceutical sciences

BCF Career Event

  1. Ghent
  2. 28 November 2024

Connecting employers to job seekers in Life Sciences


BiotechNEWS & Life Sciences

BiotechNEWS & Life Sciences

  1. Free download!

The magazine for the Dutch Life Sciences sector

Spotlight employers

CLS Services
Science at Work Staffing
Hyphen Projects uses cookies to remember certain preferences and align interests.
By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.