Experience abroad: no need to overdo it

    Research shows that employers prefer to hire people who have spent some time studying abroad. However, students who have completed their entire study programme abroad, are not as much in demand.

    Research by the Maastricht Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA), commissioned by the European Commission, has shown that European employers strongly favour graduates who have taken some subjects abroad. Employers tend to find applicants who have experience studying abroad more resourceful and easier to get on with, in addition to which they generally have good language skills.

    Not in higher demand
    This does not mean, however, that applicants who have completed their entire study abroad are in even higher demand. Despite efforts to achieve common recognition of European educational qualifications and the construction of Europe as one single higher-education space, employers prefer to hire graduates from their ‘own’ countries. Companies are often not sure about the value of foreign qualifications and are afraid applicants do not know enough about the country they wish to work in.

    Heart set on going abroad?
    If you really have your heart set on going abroad, by all means, don’t let this information deter you: as a rule, employers will still prefer to hire someone with a foreign diploma over someone who has never set foot on foreign soil. Saying that, this statement does not hold true for every country. Swedish and British applicants, for instance, are best off studying in their own countries, and Dutch employers seem to care surprisingly little either way.

    It would appear that employers mainly see experience abroad as an added bonus. According to the report ‘it’s a feather in the cap when the cap is good’. In other words, what ultimately counts are the lists of grades, work experience and level of education.

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