Job Hunting for Foreigners in Austria

Following our blog posts Job Hunting for Foreigners in Poland, Job Hunting for Foreigners in Slovak Republic and Job Hunting for Foreigners in Czech Republic, we continue our series with Job Hunting for Foreigners in Austria.

This time Valeria Lebedieva asked Gilles Huart, Group Regional Consultant CEE, TARGET Executive Search CEE, to answer our questions:

1. Is there a demand for foreign managers in Austria? What is expected from them?
There is no concrete answer to this complex question! First, there are very few statistics related to that topic. According to the Arbeiterkammer (Austrian institution representing employees) less than 3% of the Austrian companies have foreign managers. But, second, an explanation is suggested by the controversial definition of foreign managers presented in these statistics: people having no Austrian passport or people born in Austria with migrant parents.

The majority of foreign managers got to Austria due to the historical and economical linkage between Austria and Europe / USA . If we are speaking about Eastern European Managers in Austria, it is clear that they are relatively few, even if the trend is rising nowadays. Obviously companies having sound activities in CEE are more and more interested in having expatriate managers on board.

The expectation of these companies is clearly to integrate the soul of these CEE countries into the local Austrian organization. These managers provide the HQs with background information from their home market and a better cultural understanding. On the other hand they go back to their home country after some years spent at the HQs with a better comprehension of the company culture and its strategy.

As a conclusion, I would say that Austria is a mature labour market with low percentage of foreign managers. Among international companies, particularly doing business with CEE, we find more and more Eastern European managers.

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

Generally speaking, Austria remains conservative and the German language is a “must”. Even if this requirement is not expressed in the profile, it plays a huge role in the final decision making. Very few international companies are able (or willing) to implement English as a real working language. Many of them pretend it, but in the daily routine they come back to German at the next opportunity. The relevance of the communication between colleagues and subordinates is simply too high to exclude German. A crash course is usually not enough…

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

The requirement is clearly linked to their functions in Austria. In HQs these managers will have to demonstrate diplomacy, empathy and openness. They are often “learning to feel” the company culture at the heart. At top positions they absolutely must have top professional competencies! If the foreign managers have an operational role on the Austrian market, they must have the same market knowledge as their Austrian colleagues to remain credible.

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

As a mature market Austria offers diverse ways for recruitment. You find lots of job ads in the press (on a weekly basis and in selected papers). However, the number of these ads is somehow declining when compared with the past. Some of them are related to top positions (Managing Director, Member of the Board). It is not to be compared with the labour markets in Eastern Europe. Internet (company website or job portals) as well as social media are logically playing a bigger role. In addition to that Executive Search (Headhunting) is used for top levels (higher levels than in Eastern Europe usually).

Finally, I would like to point out another aspect. The candidates have to sell themselves far more than in Eastern Europe. The Austrian market for candidates is far more mature and competitive than in CEE. It is not rare that ca. 150-200 people apply for a good job posted in the press. The employers react accordingly and are hence much more demanding.

Where would you recommend foreign managers to find a job?

My advice:
– use your own or extended networks (also local communities)
– check out diverse job portals like,
– review the companies’ websites you are interested in
– have a look at the press

In addition to that, there is a special service for expatriates in Austria, assisting companies in integrating their expats into the Viennese society:


Gilles, thank you very much for your informative answers.

Please allow me to summarize the key points for our readers:
1) The Austrian job market is mature with a low percentage of foreign managers
2) The market offers interesting opportunities that can be found in the press and on the Internet
3) There are often 200 – 250 good applicants for managerial positions
4) The interest in managers from Eastern Europe has been growing
5) Knowing German is essential

If you’d like to read more on Austria: about Austria about Austria about Austria