Arriving in a city without knowledge of how the job market functions may prove to be a tough challenge. Numerous organizations, associations or websites can help you in your approaches to find a job.


Finding a job

First of all, you must know that accessing the job market, for a worker who hasn’t got the Belgian nationality, depends on several elements, notably the stay permit, the motivation, the length of stay etc. This information will be noted on the reverse side of the stay permit. There are 3 possibilities :


  • Some stay permits give an unlimited access to the job market (this is the case for EU citizens or persons recognized as refugees) : possibility to work for any employer.
  • For others, entry/stay on territory is subjected to a prior work authorization : a Belgian employer shall request a unique permitfor its future employee; access to job market will then be
  • Certain stay permits do not allow you to access the job market, you will therefore not be allowed to work.

Get the right academic title

Furthermore, exercising certain occupations is submitted to specific conditions : possessing a diploma or technical qualification. To exercise as a plumber, for instance, you must be able to prove your qualification certificate in plumbing. A professional qualification is thus very important on the job market. Before looking for a job, it is important you think about a professional project that suits you. To obtain information on this subject, do not hesitate to consult the data sheet dedicated to studies and trainings.

Various Work Status

Working in Belgium can be done in various ways, depending on the status you choose. There are 3 status : salaried, civil servant, independent. Timetables, regulations, rights and obligations differ according to your status.


An independent worker is his/her own boss. He/she opens his/her commerce or exercise an economic activity for clients. He/she fixes his/her own schedule. His/her revenue is often related to benefits of activity and, therefore, can vary from one month to another. To become an independent, certain rules must be respected and many administrative step are necessary. Amongst them, the necessity to be registered with the BCE (French acronym for Banque-Carrefour des Enterprises – Crossroad Bank for Companies), the necessity to prove your capabilities as a manager and to register with a social insurance trust etc. Should you wish to open your own professional activity, you will get all relevant information on the website 1819.brussels. To work as an independent, you must also have a professional card.

Various Work Status

salaried worker is a person who has signed a work contract with an employer. He/she commits himself/herself to work under the authority of the employer and perceives a wage for this job. There are 2 sorts of salaried workers : “employees” and “workers”. The difference between the 2 is the nature of performed job. An employee has an “intellectual” job whereas a worker’s job is more “manual”. To work as a non-EU salaried person, you need a work permit, in principle.


civil servant exercise a job servicing the citizens for which he/she has been appointed. The particularity is to have a public institution as employer (the Belgian state, for instance). Teachers, policemen/women, soldiers or communal employees are all civil servants. They benefit from special advantages (regarding their pensions, for instance) but they do have particular obligations too. To become a civil servant you must pass a test (SELOR Administration) and, for certain positions, nationality conditions apply.

Help in Looking for a Job

In Belgium, the job market is a regional matter. This means that public organizations which help job seekers are different : In Brussels it is ACTIRIS, in Wallonia, it is the FOREM (Office Wallon de la Formation Professionnelle et de l’Emploi) , In Flanders it is the VDAB (Vlaamse Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling en Beroepsopleiding) and in the German-speaking part of the country, it is the ADG (Arbeitsamt der Deutschsprachingen Gemeinschaft Belgiens). We shall concentrate on Actiris hereafter. The Brussels organization Actiris has many services to support job seekers in their search of a job in the Brussels region, for exemple it gives access to a job counselor, to many job offer or trainings, hiring aid or to a public multimedia area.


The role of Actiris is not to find you a job but, indeed, to help you find one by giving you all necessary tools. Please note that Actiris may also check that you are actively searching for a job. During meetings with your counselor, he/she may request that you show proofs (motivation letters, sent and received mails etc.). This procedure may lead to possible sanctions against which appeal is possible.

Applying for a Job

Applying for a job is not necessarily an easy task and may require some time. The first step is to edit a resume (CV, curriculum vitae) and a motivation letter. The Curriculum Vitae (resume) is a document which browses your profile, your studies, your professional experience and the languages you speak fluently. The motivation letter is a document which notably specifies your interest to apply for a particular job, the reasons for which you believe you are the best candidate possible for the job.


These 2 documents are essential when looking for a job. It is therefore important you write them very carefully indeed. Certain specialized organizations and associations can give you some advices and help you in editing these documents and in preparing for a job interview. La Cité des Métiers and local missions can also help you in this regard. There are numerous local missions in Brussels. Please enquire if there’s one in your commune. 

Syndicates/Trade Unions :

In Belgium, syndicates are unavoidable actors in matters linked with employment and unemployment. Their services are payable. You must therefore pay contributions to benefit from their help but the Union Premium received annually drastically reduce this expense. In Belgium, trade unions have 2 main goals : to pay the unemployment allowances and to defend the workers’ rights against employers. This defense takes place on 3 levels : the first level is within companies. Depending on the size of the company and on the sector in which the company deals, a syndical delegate may be elected amongst the employees. If this is not the case, workers or employees can always consult an external syndicate in case of problems. The role of the syndical delegate is to defend the workers’ rights in all problems which may arise with the employer. In most cases, a colleague will exercise this function on a part-time basis.


The second level, is the sectorial level. In Belgium, trade unions are indeed major actors when it comes to decision-making regarding the organization of various sectors of activity. In this framework, they can influence work conditions and workers’ wages. Negotiations between syndicates and patrons are conducted on parity agreement basis. Last, syndicates are also active at a national level. They are often consulted by deciders when questions concerning jobs and unemployment arise. They can, for instance, organize protestation movements such as demonstrations for example. 

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