Job Hunting for Foreign Managers in Slovakia

Following our first blog post Job Hunting for Foreigners in Poland, we continue our series, this time with Job Hunting for Foreign Managers in Slovakia.

We asked Mariana Turanova, Managing Partner Slovakia, TARGET Executive Search CEE, to answer our questions:

1. Is there demand for foreign managers in Slovakia? What is expected of them?

Honestly, the market doesn’t offer too many relevant vacancies for foreign top-managers, unless they speak Slovak or are settled in Slovakia and thus accept a remuneration level usual on the market. This may be due to the fact that there aren’t many CEE HQs in Slovakia, where possibly expats can be needed, with all their skills competencies and expat package expectations.

Nevertheless, there is still quite a high number of expatriate managers working in Slovakia. The majority of them has been sent by HQs to work on specific assignment, usually staying 3 years before moving on further.

2. How important is it for job hunting managers to know Slovak language?

It is crucial. Not that the productive population wouldn’t speak English, just on the contrary. Still, the hiring decision makers believe, managers should be able to understand the local language. Especially when we talk about managerial positions in the manufacturing sector, where e.g. there’s a need to communicate with operators who simply don’t speak any foreign languages.

Of course, the situation is different for those expat managers who just moved to Slovakia and seek a job here and for those who were sent to Slovakia by their HQs. In the second case the language knowledge is just a plus. It is always appreciated when an expat makes efforts and at least tries to learn the local language.

3. What skills or competencies do they have to demonstrate to be successful?

I don’t think that there is a big difference in expectations from that in any other competitive developed market. Expected are down to earth, hands-on people with proven technical skills and abilities to develop people. Modern managers who truly enjoy working with different cultures.

Employees in Slovakia somehow naturally respect authorities, their managers. They expect to learn from the expats, both from the technical and human point of view. As soon as they realise there is nothing to learn from a manager, there is no respect anymore.

4. What are specificities of the Slovak executive recruitment market?

There is one specific topic and that is the market size. It is rather different to hire for the Czech Republic or Poland and for Slovakia. Slovakia is a small market, comparable with Finland and Denmark in the people size.

On the other hand its central location in the region, short distance to Budapest and Prague and a very short distance from Vienna, when we talk about the capital city Bratislava, gives the vacancies some added value.

5. What advice would you give managers who want to find a job in Slovakia?

I would tell them to do three things.
First of all, regularly check the main job portal Profesia. There are many good offers advertised directly, but watch out because there are also many that simply pretend “to be more” than they are in reality.
Then, choose 3-5 HR consultancies or headhunters and contact them for some general advice about the market. In other words, try to organise a few general interviews in order to learn more about the market.
And as the third step, I would recommend to select a dozen companies that sound “as a dream employer” for you and to approach them directly. Sometimes, the employers know they need to hire “some professional” but postpone the process due to daily operations or other reasons. Then, if a fitting CV appears all of the sudden at their door step, they start to act quickly.

There is one more thing: I’ve already mentioned that Bratislava is located only 60km from Vienna, reachable by a one-hour train ride which is very comfortable. So the Vienna job market, especially the international headquarters based there, perhaps should be checked out as well.

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Thank you very much, Mariana, for your valuable insights and advises!

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If you’d like to read more on Slovak Republic:
DoingBusiness.org about Slovakia
Kwintessential.co.uk about Slovakia
EY.com about Slovakia

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