Recruiting on the Polish Job Market: Take the Plunge!

By Nannette Ripmeester

William Russell Expat Health Insurance

With a population of 38.6 million and a gross domestic product of $230 billion, Poland accounts for over half of the EU newcomers' population and 41% of their total GDP. Although only 17 million are "economically active" and unemployment of 17.4% (a decrease compared to previous years!), Poland does offer opportunities. Foremost it is a perfect gateway to Central and Eastern Europe, opening up new markets.

Looming opportunities

Joanna Stawicka, Head of the International Relations Office of the Technical University in Ldz, acknowledges the poor labour market situation in her home country. "The economic growth for the last 4 years has been slow, but the unemployment level has slowly started to decrease, although still at 17.4%. A lot of university graduates, even from the best economic universities, had difficulties in finding a good job. But there are of course always exceptions. Sectors offering opportunities include logistics, direct marketing, telecommunications and computer science - particularly for specialists able to programme networks. Another sector offering more and more job openings is the accountancy sector. In this sector there are opportunities for senior level people with a foreign language, equipped with computer skills and an understanding of EU regulations. Knowledge of EU regulations is nowadays certainly a plus; if you know how to apply for EU funds you will certainly find work!"

Highly trained engineers

The economic situation in Poland may not be booming after the accession to the European Union in 2004, Poland does enjoy one of the fastest growing economies in the region, ahead of other Central and Eastern European countries. Many state-owned industries have been privatised and foreign investment in the country is high. Bureaucratic obstacles and corruption have been hampering the economy for a long time, but restructuring and reforms have made an impact. Poland outperforms old-line Europe on many economic measures beyond its brisk growth rate. Its average labour costs are less than a sixth of Germany"s, giving it a huge edge in attracting manufacturing jobs. Productivity is twice the existing EU average. And participation in higher education has increased dramatically in recent years: From 13% in 1990 to 45% in the academic year 2003/2004. "In recent years even the best graduates were forced to take jobs that did not suit their educational background. Nowadays though you see competition for the best talent. Particularly banking and the financial services sector have started a war for talent. But also the automotive and engineering sector have discovered how highly trained Polish graduates are," mentions a recruiter for a West European company that took the leap to Poland already.

Polish applications

If recruiting on a foreign market, it is important to understand how local recruitment habits work. Polish graduates are accustomed to writing reversed chronological CVs with a lot of attention for educational accomplishments and languages. The cover letter is usually very formal although it is not uncommon to see the word "I" very often appearing in the CV (in sentences such as "I"m a very responsible, open-minded person &" or "I have experience in &"). Modesty is not a key skill! Polish graduates are used to very direct interview styles, expecting questions about their experiences so far and their own expectations about the job, their career but also about the salary.

If you want to find out more about recruiting in Poland, Expertise in Labour Mobility has published a guide called "Looking for work in the 10 EU accession countries" (ISBN 90-5896-051-X) that might answer all your initial questions about cultural habits during the recruitment process as well as cultural differences in management culture.

copyright: Expertise in Labour Mobility

About the Author

Nannette Ripmeester is an internationally acclaimed expert when it comes to making a success of working abroad. She is managing director and founder of Expertise in Labour Mobility (labourmobility.com), a knowledge broker on issues related to mobility on the international labour market. ELM has published helpful guides on recruitment habits and cultural management issues in over 40 countries. This article is based on the guide for the 10 recently joined EU member countries: Looking for work in the 10 EU accession countries (ISBN 90-5896-051-X).


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