Keys for survival in Belgium – Culture & job

A session by Sehul Shah

As an immigrant Belgium it is important to understand and respect the differences in culture and beliefs of the country. Most of the times these differences result in conflicts amongst colleagues, neighbors, local friends or business partners. Sehul shared a few anecdotes to put into perspectives these differences and beliefs.

Culture is indeed a very vast and varied concept and hence there cannot be exact solutions or answers to avoid such difference oriented conflicts. Although culture is deep rooted, beliefs of a culture can be better understood. Belief is more or less a trend, style, taste or mode of living. For example : Football being the most loved game of Belgium, everyone knows “Les Diables Rouges” or “ Red Devils” and if you don’t know this it can be shocking for the fellow Belgians. As you try to integrate into a new society, it is necessary to understand the habits and interest of the people and adapt to your surroundings.

Compared to India, the Educational system here in Belgium is quite different. Mostly the education in Belgium is based on answering the child’s “what” and “why” questions. This is actually an encouragement for children to ask more and more questions and begin a quest for finding answers to everything around them. Children are allowed to do what they like the most and the system completely relies on their natural instincts unlike in India where the parents have to take control of their child’s education.

Another very important aspect of Belgian life is “Sports” .Sports are not only taken up as a hobby but also as a must do activity. Olympics and other national and international championships are given tremendous importance and are religiously followed by all the locals. Due to their positive outlook towards sports and health, all the athletes get immense motivation and support needed in order to perform well at all levels.

Considering the working culture in Belgium, it is more reserved compared to India .In India, multi-tasking is the need of the hour whereas here people believe that taking extra workload is in fact snatching away potential job opportunities for job seekers. They believe very strongly in following their roles and responsibilities as per their job description. Gender equality is already in place and it is apparent that the society is fair and not biased towards one gender.

Focusing on the job scenario in Belgium, Sehul shared a few key findings about the job industry and also provided tips to find a job. Finding a job is one of the key success factors for us living in Belgium.

Belgium job market is highly conservative. This is the industry where marginal cost is high and is closing down most of its businesses related to the steel industry and the heavy automobile industry. The Wallonia region, which used to be the key contributor to Belgium economy, is struggling today. There are ample opportunities in the service and financial sectors, life science, biotechnology etc. Belgium economy is highly dependent on its geographical location and has highly sophisticated transport network. So jobs in logistic sector, supply chain fields are in abundance.

A few things you must keep in mind before starting your job search are:

Speaking at least one of the official languages of Belgium (Flemish or French) is considered as key asset in your job search.

Asymmetry of information is quite normal between the interviewee and interviewer, it is important to navigate company’s website to understand long-term vision, company’s culture. Be prepared for long-term strategy behind the job description. Try and speak what the recruiter wants to listen. Collaboration, teamwork is more important than any technical skills.

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