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How do recruitment companies work in Europe?

February 18, 2020

These tips will help you if you are looking to make the professional leap to the Old Continent.

5 min read

The opinions expressed by employees are personal.

How do recruitment companies work in Europe?How do recruitment companies work in Europe?

One of the most common mistakes of Latin American candidates seeking to make an international leap in their professional career in Europe is to assume that, as we live in a globalized world, all countries recruit in the same way.

It is true that the dominance of the sector by the Anglo-Saxon recruitment cabinets such as, have caused that the selection processes have been mostly standardized. However, cultural differences, especially in Europe, remain very important.

In this new article about working in Europe, we will talk about the main characteristics that you should take into account, as well as the functioning and cultural differences of recruitment agencies in the European continent .

Search for work through European recruitment cabinets

When we talk about looking for work abroad, especially in Europe, there are mainly three ways to do it: Through Jobsearch , recruitment agencies and headhunters, or contact networks (Networking) .

The first option “ Jobsearch ” is generally the least efficient for foreign candidates, since most of the employment pages ( ,,,, etc.) use the IP address of your computer to know where you are applying and generally accept only the candidatures that come from the countries of the European Union.

Recruitment agencies and headhunter cabinets, in my opinion, are less effective than the establishment of a strong network of contacts. However, if you have a good strategy, this option can be very interesting for you. The great advantage of resorting to them is that Latin American candidates will not need to have a high knowledge of the European market. In a way, agencies “work for you” if your profile corresponds to what they are looking for.

Although this way of looking for a job has a certain advantage, not all foreign candidates can use these intermediaries for several reasons.

Recently, I gave a conference about international employment in the City of Querétaro (200 km north of Mexico City) . At the end of the talk, one person told me that I did not find it possible to continue his professional career abroad because he was 44 years old.

In the European Union, age discrimination does not occur in exactly the same way as in Latin America, the majority of candidates who go through a headhunter are between 35 and 55 years old on average. If you are a recent graduate, you will have few opportunities to be considered in a selection process unless you have an engineer profile or if you work on new technologies.

European cultural differences

Before resorting to recruitment cabinets, it is important that you know the main cultural differences that exist between Europe and Latin America. First, you should know that, as in Latin America, you will find three types of companies: general recruitment, specialist recruitment (for example, Executives Search ) and independent (people who decide to work on their own) .

The first cultural difference you will find, especially in the first two, is that they have a “less impersonal” way of working than in Latin America. This may seem surprising given the importance of personal relationships in Latin culture.

I explain this difference due to the influence of the large US recruitment firms in the Latin labor market. In this country, the recruitment process is generally seen as a transaction due to the strong business culture and profitability that exists.

I do not mean to say that one is better than another, both have advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, recruitment cabinets or headhunters in Europe accompany candidates more throughout their professional careers, as recruitment is more focused on personality. The drawback is that the processes are generally longer than in Latin America and almost always propose the same candidates to different employers.

In Latin America, on the other hand, professionals in this sector work with stricter, shorter deadlines and recruitment is more focused on the candidate's profile. However, although the process becomes shorter, candidates may feel like a number. Many of my clients have even told me that, during and after a selection process, they don't have feedback, they don't know if the vacancy was filled or not. The recruiter of the position disappears completely.

Another aspect that you need to take into account if you want to seek the support of a recruitment company in Europe is that you will have more options than in Latin America. There is a wide variety of companies or people who are dedicated to recruitment in the European Union, so you will not necessarily need a top-level headhunter . Depending on your profile and your strategy, an independent for example, may be more effective in terms of remuneration and responsibilities for you than a generalist or specialist recruitment cabinet.

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