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How to find a job in Ghent without speaking Dutch

In this post we give you tips about where you can find a job in Ghent that doesn’t require Dutch language skills. Here are some options:

  • Work for a multinational company
  • Get a job in one of the Irish pubs
  • Get a Phd/PostDoc
  • Self-Employment: Work as a freelancer/start your own business
  • Commute to Brussels and work e.g at the European Commission
  • Look for a job in a startup or in the IT sector
  • Other options

We also talked to some expats in Ghent about their jobs; how they found their job, why they like working where they do and what they think about Ghent.

Work for a multinational company

Relocation Belgium, provides relocation services for expats has kindly given a list of multinational companies with a presence in Gent.

Picture of the port of ghent, where you might find an international job
There are many international companies present in the Port of Ghent

Deborah Loones, director of Relocation Belgium, gave this tip to people seeking employment in Flanders: “mention at the interview that even if you don’t speak Dutch fluently, you are very eager to learn. The future employer appreciates it!” 

Volvo Trucks features open positions in video

The Volvo Trucks Uptime Service department recently launched a video showing how it is to work at Volvo Trucks with breakdown coordination. It featured Ghent too! All the people in the video said Ghent is a super pretty and amazing town to live in. Video: Volvo Group is looking for language profiles!

Petra featured in a video from Volvo trucks featuring jobs in Ghent
Petra from Sweden is a Breakdown Coordinator at Volvo Trucks in Ghent

 

Get a job in one of the Irish pubs

This is a picture of Alex Samuel, manager in Patrick Foley's
Alex Samuel happy out working at the Irish pub Patrick Foley’s

Alex Samuel enjoys working at Patrick Foley’s Irish pub.

There are at least two Irish pubs in Gent: Patrick Foley’s and the Celtic Towers. Alex Samuel is a manager at Patrick Foley’s. The pub is open 20 hours a day, every day, and employs around 20 people including the kitchen staff and the B&B personnel. The people behind the bar are nearly always native English speakers, whereas the people responsible for the waiting are also foreign students. “Finding a job in Ghent without perfect Dutch is nearly impossible,” Alex says. Customers visiting the Irish pub don’t expect service in Dutch, so knowing English is enough to get by, making an Irish pub a good option for a newcomer in Ghent looking for work.

During his 2 years working in Ghent, Alex never witnessed a fight in the pub, whereas in the hustle and bustle of London, where he used to live, it was nearly a daily ordeal. Therefore it comes as no surprise that Alex prefers living and working in the calmer city of Ghent.

Get a PhD at Ghent University

Diana-Elena Mogosanu just finished her PhD in Gent, and now works as a life- and performance coach

A picture of Diana who just finished her phd in Gent
Diana Elena Mogosanu just finished her Phd in Ghent

Diana-Elena Mogosanu’s first encounter with the city of Gent was a little over five years ago. She came to visit a friend who was already living here, working on a PhD at Ghent University. Little did she know that the best period of her life would start soon after this visit. It led her to becoming a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering.

“Working at the Ghent University has been a great place for me to thrive both professionally and personally as it offers a great range of courses from specialist courses to creative thinking and leadership courses”, Diana say. “This latter type of courses had a great influence on me as they led me to following other training programs and becoming a life- and business performance coach.”

For the pros and cons about Ghent Diana finds it “sometimes a bit challenging to break the ice when starting a friendship with a local person”. She likes the calmness of Gent, and also the environmental awareness of its residents.  She adds: “Ghent is the perfect place for people to thrive, but also to enjoy themselves as there is an abundance of cultural activities for all ages and preferences!!”

Here is a leaflet about doing a Phd in Ghent: Link to pdf. To support yourself financially you can apply for scholarships via e.g FWO or IWT, or get funding via Imec, VIB or iMinds. Another option is to be employed as full-time academic assisting staff or as a scientific employee while getting your degree.

Self Employment: Work as a freelancer/start your own business!

With new technology it’s easy to work remotely, perhaps with clients in your home country, or globally in English. For options of various freelancing gigs, see online platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. One Belgian site that advertises freelance work is Freelance Network. Another idea is to offer services like translating, starting an online shop or a food truck.

You can find tips on choosing between freelancing and starting a company in this previous The Square.Gent post.

Gig- & Sharing economy

There are several platforms which can help you earn money doing odd jobs like food delivery or dog sitting, see e.g Deliveroo, Uber Eats or Pawshake.

Employees, self-employed and retired people can earn up to 500€ a month tax free for volunteer work aiming to improve society, like sports coach, supporting NGO’s etc. Here is a list of platforms approved for this tax exemption.

Commute to Brussels and work for the EU

This is a picture of the European Commission, where you also can find a job
The European Commission is demanding and puts you through a difficult journey to get there, but it is a very good employer, too. The picture is taken from the Facebook wall of the European Commission

If you don’t mind the commute, Brussels is only a short train ride away with more options available for job-seekers who don’t yet speak Dutch. E.g the Bulletin has a job board with many open positions in Brussels. Access it here

A popular place to work for Europeans especially is of course all the EU institutions, as well as a plethora of lobby groups and other companies and NGOs involved in the EU-law making ecosystem. You can find open positions here

On this The Square.Gent-post you can read Alexandra’s story how it is to work at the European Commission as an interpreter.

Look for a job in a startup

Ghent’s entrepreneurial scene is buzzing with many emerging companies, especially in the tech scene. With English as the primary language used in many of the companies, it is possible to find work which doesn’t require perfect knowledge of Dutch. The newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws stated Ghent is an “epicentrum” for startups, singling out the local showrunners Showpad, Engagor (now Clarabridge) and Teamleader.

  • Startups.be has a website mapping out the startups in Belgium, including Gent.
  • Bloovi advertises jobs in the digital sector
  • Creativeskills.be has a search function displaying English only jobs in the creative sectors.

Some IT companies also don’t mind if the employee doesn’t speak Dutch well, but can communicate in English.

Teamleader

Two new Ghent residents who found a job in startup company were Katrin, from Germany, and Elias, from UK. They are both working for Teamleader. Teamleader is a company providing online Customer Relations Management, invoicing and project planning for small businesses. Read more about their experiences in this TheSquare.Gent-post

The company, which was only set up in 2014, now employs hundreds of people. You can see their open positions here.

Other options

You can also get help with looking for a job from Co-Searching, VDAB or Talentree. Check out our recent Square posts for more info:

Or if you’re studying and want to also get some work experience ready for when you graduate, take a look at Studaro. Studaro is Gent based. It is a first-of-its kind platform and recruitment agency dedicated to students (Belgian and internationals) who want to find a qualified part-time job in Belgium. They connect student workers with the Belgian Startup and SME eco-system and help them land a relevant part-time job next to their studies.

Check the job board on our Facebook page, find the link here.

 

Did we miss any great options for jobs in Ghent not requiring Dutch? Please add your suggestions in the comment section!

Last updated: August, 2018

Note: The information on this page is based on the information found on official government and local websites. It is also based on the experience of the authors. While we have done our best to make sure it is accurate, rules and regulations change and each individual situation might be different. It is always a good idea to check with appropriate authorities for the latest information. Therefore, the authors do not assume any responsibility or liability for any issues or damages stemming from the use of the information found on this website.

Jenny
Jenny moved to Gent late 2009, and stayed for a Gentenaar she met at a party in the Charlatan. She combines her interest in entrepreneurship and her love for unique experiences and works as an event organiser and is the Community Manager of Entrepreneurs Anonymous. Please connect: https://be.linkedin.com/in/jennybjorklof
https://be.linkedin.com/in/jennybjorklof

5 thoughts on “How to find a job in Ghent without speaking Dutch

  1. Hello fellow users,
    I need your help regarding below mentioned issue.
    I got VISA D for research purposes for university of Antwerp, worked their for one month and resigned without getting temporary work permit.
    Now, I found a really good niche and wanted to open a company in Belgium. I need to ask that would that VISA be enough for opening a company or do I have to get a separate business card for that ?
    Thanks for your time in advance

  2. I work for a chemical/textile company in Gent centrum called Milliken an dI don’t speak Dutch. It is an American company. Maybe you could please include it in the multinational companies?

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