IT recruitment in the Czech Republic

Interview with REED's Matt Foster

David Creighton

Written by David Creighton Published on 12.07.2011 12:47:50 (updated on 12.07.2011) Reading time: 4 minutes

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In recent years, the Czech Republic has become a favorite among IT companies thanks to, among other things, its qualified workforce and convenient location. In the second of our interviews with Reed Recruitment, Matt Foster European Regional Director at Reed, discusses the IT sector in the Czech Republic and the prospects for expats working in the IT industry here.

Could you give us a general overview of the IT recruitment market in the Czech Republic?
At the moment, it´s very much a supplier´s, i.e. a jobseeker´s, market. Demand is outstripping supply, in particular amongst candidates with more than one foreign language or experience of working abroad, or those with a combination of desirable skills such as Java and C++.  Companies are no longer able to make do with the current headcount levels and are having to become more desirable as career vehicles and more aggressive/imaginative in their sourcing techniques

What are the trends in IT?
Prague is evolving from a low-cost option to a highly-skilled offering.
Multinational companies continue to target the region, in particular for the mobile communications/applications talent we have to offer. And as more and more transactions are carried out using the Internet, the antivirus and security industry continues to go from strength to strength.

Are IT companies changing their recruitment methods or recruiting different people?
Take a look at an industry or company, and you´ll see that how it behaves and performs in business is generally reflected in its recruitment activity.  Dynamic, imaginative, knowledge-driven and thought leading companies are enjoying the benefits of an intelligent recruitment strategy. It is no longer acceptable to stick a badly-written job description in the local weekly newspaper. Companies who treat recruitment as a distracting cost sector provide a rich source of candidates for our clients, who see the value of an intimate long-term partnership with their recruitment partner. The recently published book Put Your Mindset to Work, co-authored by our Chairman, James Reed, explores how companies who choose mindset over skillset when recruiting their future leaders and workers, have a distinct advantage over the CV keyword matchers.

Are major IT companies moving their offices to the Czech Republic? If so, what are the reasons for this?
Brno is rapidly overheating in terms of the increasing number of MNCs looking to benefit from its intellectual capital and logistics offerings. Prague still ticks nine out of ten boxes for nearshoring operations.

What opportunities are there for expats in this sector?
Contrary to popular belief, the number of expat opportunities is at its highest level ever, and continues to grow. If we redefine the way we think of an expat, from an overqualified, middle-aged, head office ambassador, and include the young, mobile, highly intelligent and highly qualified army of foreign nationals who are looking to make Prague home for a few years or the foreseeable future, it is fair to say that such an expat can easily find employment here.

How strong is the competition?
Thankfully, for Reed, the competition is real, strong, and getting stronger as other companies follow our lead in providing total Recruitment Process Outsourcing solutions. When we entered the market, we found that our clients´ expectations of the levels of service and caliber of candidates were defined by the existing recruitment companies here, so in essence our task became to show these companies that they could dare to dream of an effective profitable recruitment partnership.

At what level are HR companies recruiting?

The demand for HR specialists is strong and encouraging recruitment companies to provide ancillary benefits such as regular training, a transparent Career Development Framework, overseas postings, and an enjoyable working environment. All of which are core to a career at Reed.  Although we will recruit at a senior level to fulfill a strategic goal, we prefer to select the best graduates from the finance, IT and business disciplines and enroll them on our 3- year CIPD accredited training schedule.

How long do placements last?
Staff retention is important to ambitious organizations, which is why our free replacement guarantee lasts up to 12 months. We get it wrong occasionally of course, but we make sure that if this happens, it hits our P&L rather than our clients. Of course, in a competitive market, companies need to ensure they remain as attractive place to work in as they were to join.

Could you describe average salaries for your placements?
In a nutshell, 80% of our placements fall between the 45k to 85k brackets.
We are a mid to senior level consultancy.  We are of course comfortable operating at the C level end of the market, and as more and more companies are becoming wise to the extortionate smoke and mirrors of the “executive search” industry it is a growing sector for us.

What level of Czech is required?
Reed were the first company in the region to establish a dedicated MSS (multilingual shared services) practice, reacting to the real need to hire candidates fluent in a language other than Czech. This division now accounts for over 60% of Reed´s revenue within Europe. Prague is a very forgiving city for a foreigner, although our consultants would expect a reasonable explanation as to why a candidate has not made rudimentary progress in the language of the country they have made their home.

How has the global recession affected the IT sector in the Czech Republic?
Of course, the measure of any business, country or individual is not how they avoid calamity, but how they react, and the Czech Republic and its business community are leading the way in investing their way back to full health. This proves the validity of the adage, “when you are going through Hell, keep going!”

In the next Reed article, we´ll look at marketing and how social media and other new channels effects the recruitment sector.

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