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Working in Prague as an Expat

Tips & Advice on the Czech Labor Market

COMMENTS (27)
VIEWS (19806)
PUBLISHED 29.04.2011
LAST UPDATED 01.05.2011






 

Prague has always been a very popular destination for expats, and contrary to what might be expected, career opportunities for expats in the Czech Republic are improving. In this special Expats.cz interview, Jon Hill, Country Manager Czech Republic at global firm Reed Specialist Recruitment tells us more about such opportunities and offers valuable advice on expat careers in the Czech Republic.

Could you give us a general overview of the expat recruitment market in the Czech Republic?
In the post-financial-crisis period there are more opportunities for expats working in Prague. Large international companies are now looking for candidates with international experience, whether they be Czech or foreign, to add a different perspective to their business rather than assuming traditional, outdated Czech business practices, and to meet the new challenges post-crisis. The shared service centre market is still hot, with opportunities for many language speakers in both Prague and Brno. Large international companies are looking for professionals: the days of short-term opportunities for backpackers are over.

Many expats came to Prague in the early 1990s, but this number has declined as Czechs have been trained to fill positions. How does expat recruitment today compare with that of the early 1990s, including with regard to the number of expat positions available?
There appears to be a shift back towards international companies looking to hire expats again to address the challenges after the financial crisis. More senior level executive positions are becoming available for expats. In the past, the expat was flown over to set up a business in the culture of the mother company/country to ensure compliance with systems and processes. The local was then put in a position of “authority” through his or her title but had little influence on the business strategy and continued to respond to corporate orders from overseas. Unfortunately, such employees were unable to respond to the crisis and are now being replaced by expats.

Which, if any, sectors, is the numbers of expats recruited still strong? Why is this so?
Language teaching jobs, IT, creative and senior executive roles are available for the expat.
 
How strong is the competition for positions in these sectors?
The competition is strong as Prague is still a destination of choice within Europe. The standard of living to cost ratio is high, salaries are competitive, and the Czech Republic is accessible from most locations due to the excellent transport infrastructure. For more niche language skills such as Dutch and the Scandinavian languages, there is huge competition from all the shared service centres in the Czech Republic and neighboring countries.
 
At what level are HR companies recruiting? Is it mainly executive positions or is it a mix of high-end and less senior posts? Or does it depend on the sector/company?
The recruitment market in the Czech Republic is competitive, and there are many local and large international recruitment firms operating. Job hunters can receive help in finding a job from a temporary position to executive levels, from a large number of recruitment firms. Service levels differ greatly; if jobhunters are expats, I would suggest that they use an internationally renowned brand as they have access to the expat and senior level roles. Local agencies generally provide a local service for local people.
 
Could you describe average salaries for your placements?
Executive:  CZK 150,000+/month
IT:               CZK 80,000/month
Finance:     CZK 70,000/month
Sales:         CZK 60,000/month
Language:  CZK 30,000/month

What level of Czech is required for most placements?
IT and language jobs require very little Czech; finance and sales generally require it. International firms with English as the business language would not require staff to speak Czech unless they are in a client facing role.

How long do placements generally last?
Hopefully longer than our guarantee period! Most placements last for three years, which is the international standard for the duration of an international secondment, and the situation is not very much different in the Czech Republic.

How does the recruitment process in the Czech Republic compare to that, say, of Germany or the UK?
It is definitely longer. Jobhunters will encounter passive recruitment companies that have to be chased or that lack the ability to open an opportunity on behalf of applicants. Recruitment in the Czech Republic is seen as “HR” rather than the necessary sales activity that will improve applicants´ chances of getting a job. Internal recruitment divisions within companies are notoriously slow, and HR staff do not have the necessary skills or negotiation powers to persuade internal business partners that a jobhunter can do a job for them. Recruitment is seen as the first step into HR, which is a very dangerous presumption as on-boarding is the most important part of the employee life-cycle! I suggest that jobhunters carefully select an international company with a pro-active consultant that he or she can work with. Applicants SHOULD NOT send their CVs to every single agency and every company around. If they have a specialism, they should choose an agency with a specialist recruiter.
 
Are there any significant differences that people should be aware of? For example, as a rule the Czech CV is much shorter than the Anglo-Saxon CV.
No, the CV should be written as a sales tool, to promote your skills and experiences wherever you are in the world.   

Prague always attracts a certain number expats who come to find work “on spec”. What opportunities do they have apart from teaching English or editing English translations?
IT, language and freelance work.
 
What areas of growth are you seeing in Prague? What are the reasons behind this?
IT is still strong, and the number of shared service centres, is increasing, so language teaching is an area. Companies are now looking for more creative marketeers, PR professionals and designers. The renewable energy and utilities sector is growing. Prague is still seen as a key hub and gateway to the east. We are receiving more vacancies week by week at the moment, and increasingly our clients expect to hire an expat over a local to meet this demand.

Are there many opportunities for expats beyond Prague? If so, in which regions and in which sector?
In Brno, in IT and language teaching.
 
How has the economic downturn affected expat recruitment in the Czech Republic?
Initially, the downturn was very damaging, and not just for expats, but companies are now looking for international expertise to pull their organisations out of the post-crisis lull.
 
Can you identify any significant trends developing in expat recruitment, and the key factors behind such trends?
Nothing has really changed to be honest

How do you see expat recruitment developing in the future?

IT, IT, IT


User comments


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Comment from: J.StanPublished: 11:03:03 17.08.2012
Few comments I believe the salaries range only apply if you are a specialist in your area with no competition on the czech market. Also one thing expats should know is even if english is the official language in multinational companies, many colleagues speak only czech and getting the information could take a long time. The good thing with working in Prague, it is not too demanding if you compare to european capitals like London, Paris or Francfort.. at 5pm the office is almost empty. At least it is kinda of funny REED is giving advices to applicants when you know how unprofessional they are. I got a contact with a Barbora in Palladium agency and she screwed my candidature so badly, she recognized that they are very bad with IT.... I went with GRAFTON, much better !
Comment from: nedimyraPublished: 02:52:54 26.05.2012
I read there is a huge competition from all the shared service centres for scandinavian speaking candidates. But the article is describing the situation for a year ago. How is the situation today? Would apprecitate if anybody has some information..
Vi (Guest)Published: 01:09:36 07.03.2012
Hi, I was working as a German native speaker in an IT servicedesk in Prague and incl bonus and overtime I earned around 25.000 after tax. Half of this I spent for the rent, then metro ticket, hairdresser and after that 10.000 left for the living. Regularly I check for jobs in Prague because I love this city.But salaries seem to have been carved in stone! When I ask for the minimum of 32.000 gross companies do not consider my application.
Reality check (Guest)Published: 03:25:14 19.02.2012
"Czech Republic is serves as a country for outsourcing for foreign companies". Sometimes this is true. So what? Would you prefer that these jobs didn't exist at all and were somewhere else? In these times companies want to save money, they want a skilled workforce at lower cost. Its a free market. If you don't like the wages go somewhere else. If you are skilledin something desirable, smart, and have supporting soft skills then employers will always be after you. Don't expect to be given a good job because you are from abroad and have a worthless degree or masters. I think the salaries in this article are realistic from those who have something to offer.
east (Guest)Published: 01:39:06 05.02.2012
I agree with Hanna: Czech Republic is serves as a country for outsourcing for foreign companies. The workforce is being massively exploited. An average salary is not more than KC 25,000. But the employees are required to have bachelor's or master's diplomas and to speak at least one major foreign language. Still, because they are considered as replaceable any time. It is shameful.
east (Guest)Published: 01:35:46 05.02.2012
average salaries haha are you sure you are in Czech Republic? or we r really underpaid easteuropian shit.. :(
Mashhur (Guest)Published: 03:33:40 01.02.2012
Unfortunately I am not an IT man. I did my Master degree here in Czech language and know 3 more languages except Czech. But it is really difficult to find a better job in here, even for native Czech people. One my schoolmate could hardly find a job after 1.5 years. But sometimes you feel bad when you meet some employees who have jobs, but are worse skilled than you. I don't like to complain but it is reality and it is unfair.
Tom Ulcak (Guest)Published: 12:11:31 20.01.2012
IT: CZK 80,000/month ???? You're dreaming pal. Are you on drugs?
Sancho (Guest)Published: 03:04:30 10.12.2011
Is 209,600 CZK/month a reasonable wage for a rare technology specialty? I don't want to travel all that way just to get stuck living in some slum apartment upstairs from the heavy metals refinement factory. Any advice would be welcome.
Another Expat (Guest)Published: 05:47:01 27.11.2011
@czerny: It depends what are you going to do... because the salary of a programmer will differ from the salary of an analyst, graphical designer, consultant etc. I am a consultant with 4 years of IT experience and I take home somewhere around 50,000 CZK a month.
czerny (Guest)Published: 09:54:03 11.11.2011
Do you think that asking for 50.000 CZK before taxes if one is experienced and will use not just one but two languages in the workplace (plus Czech) is too much?
Richie (Guest)Published: 03:23:52 07.10.2011
I 100% agree! czech IT salaries are far from London salaries. I have lived here since 2005 (with already 15yrs in IT), of which i started on 40,000czk as Software Developer/Leader. wasnt bothered by salary at the time, but over the last 6 years i managed to increase it to 75,000czk, which in my opinion is very good for Prague as a IT Specialist. anything above 80k expect that you are a Architect. Anything above 90k then your a specialist in say SAP or Siebel with minimum 5 yrs experience. Czechs during finance crisis preferred to employ czechs because they know they will ask for typical czech salary, czech companies will ideally prefer to employ czechs, unless skills are in shortage. Czech companies know that to pay a foreigner means paying more. Sometimes this is beneficial othertimes not. Average IT czech salary min 2-3 years = 45-55k czk. 60 is classed as above average, any thing over is classed as expensive. Im now leaving Prague after 6 years to go contracting in London earning between 350-500 a day - earning in 3 months what i could earn here in just under a year. Good luck to anyone wanting to achieve a high salary here, but ultimately you will get frustrated after a while with brickwalls or bad management - believe me - i've been there. Peace out ! :-)
Mark (Guest)Published: 12:07:30 27.09.2011
Personally, I am fascinated by the slaries quoted in the article. Were these figures arrived at by taking the average London salary and just multiplying that by the then current exchange rate and rounding up? Pure fantasy I feel. I have 25 years in the IT sector and recently moved to Prague and I have not been offered more than 45k a month. Would someone be so kind as to tell me where I should be looking to find the cited average salary figures?
Hanna (Guest)Published: 06:23:10 01.08.2011
Czech Republic is serves as a country for outsourcing for foreign companies. The workforce is being massively exploited. An average salary is not more than KC 25,000. But the employees are required to have bachelor's or master's diplomas and to speak at least one major foreign language. Still, because they are considered as replaceable any time. It is shameful.
expat or not yet (Guest)Published: 09:29:38 28.07.2011
I would like to know after reading alot of these kind of articles which most of them are almost theories lets say, how can a guy who is legal to work in CR can be able to find a job with his qualification and a university degree in business administration mainly in hospitality management and experience for more than 9 years, if where ever you look its either sales or IT or accounting?? i've been looking for more than 2 years by now and still
Elizabeth Bolt (Guest)Published: 08:49:15 29.06.2011
I wanted to know if a family of 4, living frugally, can get by with 25,000 czk. If not, how much money is more realistic? Including food (mostly cooking at home), public transportation and rent?
Dan (Guest)Published: 01:10:35 29.06.2011
@ Alex I would imagine Expats got the numbers from the person they were interviewing which is Reed recruitment
Nick (Guest)Published: 10:24:54 29.06.2011
I must say that the salaries mentioned are far from the actual truth. 80k for an average IT position in Prague? That is a lie. If we take an average position, like senior software engineer the numbers will be around 50-60k at max. 80k is much above average in IT
Alex (Guest)Published: 10:05:26 29.06.2011
IT 80k a month??? Only if the person is a Senior developer or 2nd level manager. So far what I've seen is 45k a month for a team leader/new manager and 40k for mid developers. I would like to know where expats got those numbers
Charles Penny (Guest)Published: 04:23:34 28.06.2011
"Hi, I have to comment on the salary. I have been working in both sales and finance positions in international companies, and both were less then 30,000 czk. Therefore, the information above is not very accurate." One anecdote does not equal data. Consequently, I will not jump to the conclusion that you are paid poorly because of poor analytical skills and a lack of understanding how data is gathered and interpreted.
Oli (Guest)Published: 06:51:09 20.06.2011
Hi Warrick Brown, The Czech Republic has free Czech lessons for international workers as seen advertised on the Sociln řad (Welfare services). If you're in Prague go there and ask about it. In regards to Steve Skinner, I am very much in an agreement on pretty much all of what he had to say about working in the CR. Although a Czech citizen, a year ago, I ran away to Canada on a Working Holiday Program to find a job and God has blessed me with one. In the CR I felt very discriminated against because most of my education is from overseas. Wages are very low, you have to be very proactive to find a job and it's true, the country side is very nice.
Warrick Brown (Guest)Published: 12:23:33 16.06.2011
I think the average salaries quoted in this article are little optimistic. The average language Job in Prague pays, I believe, around 20 to 25,000kc. I am teaching at the moment, but, l hope to get back to management. I have 12 plus years international management experience in the fields of Property Management, Education and Training management and a little HR. I have a BA and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration. BUT, I do not speak Czech. I have been looking for a job since January and have had 1 interview. I am committed to a long term future in Prague. But am very frustrated with the job market here and my lack of Czech language skills. I quickly learn new things. But, for some reason, not languages. I was born in New Zealand, but, hold a UK passport too. Growing up in NZ we were only taught one language. Second languages were an option in the 3rd year of high school. This is far to late. I feel somewhat embarrassed when I listen to the language skills of the average European. Any advice on how to find an appropriate position or how to improve my language skills would be greatly appreciated. Either point me in the direction of the managerial positions not requiring Czech language or show me how to learn Czech in few weeks. lol. Any advice welcomed. Have a nice, strike, day. Take care. Warrick.
Steve Skinner (Guest)Published: 05:11:12 21.05.2011
Well, that doesn't sound too condescending, does it? Frankly, Milan, you need to open your eyes and see how things really are in your country. The salaries in Prague and the Czech Republic are shamefully far below what one would receive in most of the rest of Europe. A friend of mine had a job working for one of the biggest corporations in the Czech Republic working below the CEO, and he was paid about half of what his counterpart in Germany was paid, and about one-sixth of what he would have received for a similar position in Moscow. For those seeking employment in Europe and looking at the Czech Republic, I would advise looking elsewhere. Beautiful country to vacation in and spend free time, but not a good one in which to make a decent living.
Mike Stokes (Guest)Published: 08:33:01 14.05.2011
Jon - many thanks for your interesting & informative article. From recent experience I would certainly agree with your view of a passive recruitment approach in Prague relative to the UK market. It was heartening to hear that there are opportunities out there however. I am a UK Finance professional in a senior position working for a Bank in London but looking to move to Prague. Would be really grateful if you could advise of a pro-active agency / consultant that may be able to help me in my career search.
Ian (Guest)Published: 10:15:50 02.05.2011
I\'ve worked for many language schools here and none pay over 25K for full time
Milan Benda (Guest)Published: 01:17:15 02.05.2011
\" have to comment on the salary. I have been working in both sales and finance positions in international companies, and both were less then 30,000 czk. Therefore, the information above is not very accurate. Thank you.\" John said they were average salaries, so some are higher and some are lower. You are probably lower because you are not very good.
expat (Guest)Published: 11:21:31 02.05.2011
Hi, I have to comment on the salary. I have been working in both sales and finance positions in international companies, and both were less then 30,000 czk. Therefore, the information above is not very accurate. Thank you.

 


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