The opportunity to try your hand at an international career in which you can make a difference for Europe is wide open. Despite myths and stereotypes, the chance to work in a multicultural workplace that includes everything from generalists, lawyer-linguists, communicators and librarians to engineers across the EU is not unattainable. The admission test for AC generalists, the Concours, has been altered so that the ability to analyse and to solve problems is weighted more than earlier. At the same time your personality, oral presentations and cooperation skills are also of great importance.
EPSO, which administers the centralized recruitment procedure have now launched this year’s online test for generalists.
The Concours is not scary
Many balk at the thought of having to go through the nine-month long audition - and some opt out of the chance for the same reason. But becoming a part of the EU system is not as difficult as you might think and if you pass the tests, you get to work for the welfare of 500 million European citizens.
Preben Aamann from the Danish EU Representation recognizes the issue. He went for the 2006/2007 examination. Already working in Brussels at the time, he still went ahead and tried out for the Concours.
"Many from the Representation signed up for the Concours and joined the Foreign Ministry's preparatory courses, where we were given an impression of what the test consisted of. And yes, there were myths and prejudices about the degree of difficulty and content, but for my part, the thought; 'What if I fail – will that be embarrassing?' It was quite tiresome!" He says.
Preben Aamann considered the idea of passing / failing and took the test.
"Along the way it struck me that even though the Danes may not be as competition-minded like Frenchmen and Britons, we are trained to be self-thinking, and it is very useful in relation to the Concours." He says.
The wide range of jobs in the EU means that tasks are unlimited: From the preparation of policy proposals and briefings to representation and negotiation over various coordination tasks. In addition one will attend various meetings such as the ones of the Council and the Commission and visits abroad to such places as Africa, Asia and USA.
Career with family 'on the side'
Despite the myth of the hard-working anthill, the career life in the vibrant cities, Brussels and Luxembourg, still gives space for family life.
Preben Aamann, who has brought the family with him to Brussels, points out that one must adapt to the 'Latin culture' when it comes to work and family time.
"It is not an ordinary office job from 9 am-4pm. Lunch is not included in the approximately 38 hours workweek, and you have to work long hours from time to time. However there’s great room for family time in the mornings, because we meet in later. And we have some help with the housework too, so all in all it works well for us," he says.
At present the Danes in the EU institutions are a good 1.8 percent, and it is roughly equivalent to Denmark's share of Europe's population. But many officials, who were hired in the 1970s, have now reached retirement age. Therefore, shortly only a few Danes will be placed in top-positions, and that could pose a problem.
From online testing to international career
On the EPSO website you will find both online tests and the application form, which is open for registration up to and including 17th April 2012.
Registration provides access to the first part of the test, which can be taken in Member States. The online test consists of multiple-choice tests and thought work situations.
If you get enough points you will get access to a daylong trial in Brussels which consists of a writen case study, an oral presentation and an interview.
Passed this part of the test, you become part of the database, the EU institutions recruit from. Once you have made in the database, the chance to qualify for the wide-ranging academic jobs in the EU institutions is very high. One can therefore look forward to an international career with positions that are located in Brussels and Luxembourg - or for approximately 15% outside the EU. The Concours 2012 include the "external relations" for the first time -with the possibility of future employment in the EU's External Action Service with delegations in 130 countries worldwide.
Birgitte Møller, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tel: +45 33 92 10 18, email: firstname.lastname@example.org