Job hunting for foreigners in Hungary

Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland – these are countries we wrote about in our previous blog posts. Our next destination is Hungary.
Dominika Kelemen-Raths, Managing Partner Austria & Hungary at TARGET Executive Search CEE, answered questions of Valeria Lebedieva:

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

There are many multinational companies in Hungary, which attract not only Hungarian but also foreign managers. After the change of the political system, „falling down of the iron curtain” 25 years ago, many international production, service companies and SSCs moved to Hungary. These companies brought many foreign managers with different customs, cultures, languages and way of thinking to the country, which opened the borders to the multicultural world.

The expectations towards foreign managers are very complex, because they should bring their own specialities, but at the same time they have to adapt to the local working circumstances, and ideally create the right mixture. Those foreign managers can be successful, who are able to set up straight rules, understand the local people behavior patterns and can change them by need.

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

While in the capital Budapest this is less an issue, a person on a managerial position in the countryside will most probably be feeling more comfortable knowing Hungarian or at least showing the willingness to learn it. It will enable getting closer to the local employees and communicating with them directly. The distance / gap will be shorter and it will be a nice gesture from the manager’s side.

We know many foreign managers, which put a lot of efforts into learning the Hungarian language in order to have a better understanding of the local workers, have better connection with them. They’ve got successful careers within the country and the language knowledge makes their daily life easier and more enjoyable. There are many local people, both in the cities and in the countryside, who speak foreign languages (more often German than English), but the general percentage of these people is still low and both sides should make steps for the development.

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

The manager has to know the subordinates’ compentencies and skills in order to reach the agreed goals in an efficient way, be able to develop the team and to believe in them. From a business point of view, he has to be up-to-date about the competitors, the market itself and should know the company’s strategical plans, be able to influence the team members. He/she should be a good organizer, who can delegate tasks to the responsible person and can set up clear rules for an operation.

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

Talent continues to be very scarce in Hungary. Therefore really active headhunting is needed not only for top positions, but also for many mid and expert level positions.

The current trend is that all employers would like to hire proactive, hands-on professionals, who can be an expert in one field. But on the middle and top manager’s level the candidates need to have an additional trait: to have helicopter-view to be able to see a company as a whole. Basically, EQ, strong professional background, and language knowledge are must haves in order to to become successful on the Hungarian market.

5. Where would you recommend the foreign managers to go to find a job / to network?

There are several institutions / business clubs for foreign managers and international companies in Hungary. At first, I would advise to contact the relevant chambers of industry and commerce. Their functions often include organizing business clubs for managers from their country. If not, they usually would provide the contacts or hints.
I am sure, also the Hungarian expat websites and journals can also help to get needed expat contacts, for example:

Thank you very much, Dominika, for sharing your insights about the Hungarian market!

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