Consulting Jobs in Europe
As with most types of jobs these days, it is in the IT sector where most consulting jobs are to be had in Europe, particularly for specialized topics such as SAP and database design. However, other fields such as human resources and logistics are also very much in demand for competent professionals on a short term basis.
Every European country will have a short term work permit that you can apply for to do term consultant work in the country. The trick is that the work permit is only good for as long as the contract is for. Once the contract is done, you are expected to leave. Examples are the UK work permit system and the temporary secondment (detache) in France.
If your contracts require a number of visits, work permits that provide for multiple entries are also available.
As in North America the best way to sell yourself as an expert is to have the credentials to prove it. Word of mouth is useful, but a solid resume heavy with appropriate certifications and professional associations is what tends to sway clients. This can be especially useful when trying to consult overseas if the school where some of your credentials come from is particularly well known. Just make sure your credentials are accepted in Europe by the appropriate professional body in that particular European country.
You are generally not going to be finding consulting work through traditional newspapers or even many of the job posting websites available for each country. One option is to consider working with an existing consulting firm in Europe, but in many respects, this simply becomes a new professional career. To work as a private consultant, your biggest concern is going to be in finding and maintaining a solid list of clients. There are two ways to do this. The first is in searching out and bidding on consultancy work from sites like the following:
The other option is to work with a recruiting firm who will be able to do a lot of the searching for you. A couple of the larger recruiters are:
One way to ease into consultancy in Europe is to keep your business and your home in North America for the first little while; it would just so happen that your work would all be in Europe. While this may not seem particularly appealing, it is a great way to operate for the first year or so, until you have built up a client base and a reputation in a country. Once you have done that, it becomes much easier to then take the next step, which would be to set up a branch off ice of your consulting firm in Europe.
At that point you would be able to look at getting a residence permit and a work visa so that you do not have to keep crossing the Atlantic.
If you have already been doing consultancy for your niche market in North America, you will most likely have to relearn new approaches to winning over clients. Cultural differences will dictate that you alter your sales pitches accordingly to convince European clients of your expertise. And expect to be living a transient lifestyle for the first while until you can develop a client base in Europe and apply for a work visa. Even then, you may find yourself working in many of the Schengen EU countries more often than not.
Of course, the advantage of consultancy is that it usually pays quite well. And since you typically set your schedule in terms of which contracts you take and when, you will be able to have free time to enjoy the sights and color of Europe.