Working in Turkey

Though most who move to Turkey do so for sunny skies and its ideal retirement options, there are still thousands of expats working in Turkey, and many more trying to relocate to take advantage of professional opportunities.

A limiting factor for foreign nationals has always been Turkey's conservative approach to issuing work permits. Despite improvements in bureaucracy, the government is still hesitant to grant too many of these prized pieces of paperwork as a result of the country's high unemployment rate.

In fact, recent legislation aimed at reducing the number of expats living and working in Turkey illegally has made it impossible for foreign nationals to make the beloved border runs of old – many who have been residents for years have had to return to their home countries.

Job market in Turkey

Those who have been lucky enough to be brought abroad by an employer willing to sponsor their job contract will find the Turkish labour force generally hard working and dedicated, with few qualms about working after hours if necessary.

The Turkish economy is growing consistently and has been lauded for its complex mix of modern industry and commerce, along with a traditional agricultural sector.

It is still possible for expats with an adequate skill set and a bit of determination to find jobs in Turkey. Most often, foreigners obtain employment working in the tourism, teaching, real estate and finance fields in the more expat-friendly city of Istanbul. This major metropolis also presents opportunities in the engineering, information technology, human resources, design, business, marketing and sales departments; though positions in these fields are more of a rarity.

As in the past, there is plenty of opportunity for expats to teach English in Turkey, and many institutions merely require a college degree with no formal teaching training necessary. Adequate salaries accompany these positions, though expats looking to support a family will need a larger income.

Nevertheless, the Turkish job market is restricted to foreigners and expats are not permitted to work in specific fields. For example, foreigners are not allowed to be employed in the mining industry, as executive directors of travel agencies and in some professional occupations, such as pharmacists, nurses and dentists.

Finding a job in Turkey

As employers apply for work permits for Turkey on behalf of foreign workers, expats should find employment before they arrive. 

Key means of securing a job is to browse online job portals and to contact recruitment agencies. There are many multinational corporations operating in Turkey that might list prospects on their websites. 

Work culture in Turkey

Generally, Turks are very hospitable towards foreign workers. This is ideal for expats as business can be very personal in Turkey. Turks like to take to time to form relationships and enjoy doing business with those that they trust. Turkish business culture is also very hard working so new arrivals should expect to work longer hours than they may be used to. 

Business is hierarchical in Turkey. Those in senior positions are given great respect and their decisions are generally not questioned in public. 

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