Expats who are considering working in Poland may find that salaries won't offer them the same purchasing power that they might find working in Western Europe.
In Poland, most jobs require a five-day work week and working hours are generally from 8am to 4pm, although international companies often uphold a 9am to 5pm day. Although the unemployment rate in Poland is less of an issue than a few years ago, the country has traditionally prioritised the employment of local labour.
Job market in Poland
Poland's primary industries include automotive manufacturing, food processing, banking and construction. However, expats working in Poland will most likely find opportunities in areas that have seen recent growth, including IT, finance, human relations, business services and management.
As most of the population speaks Polish, there's also a significant shortage of native English speakers. As a result, there are many English teaching jobs in Poland, and in many cases, these positions pay more than a position in a large company with upward mobility.
What's more, foreign investment is filtering into Poland and this influx of capital comes with future plans for corporates and multinationals to set up operations in the country. The country itself is also looking to privatise more infrastructure, such as the energy sector, shipbuilding and even the postal market.
That being said, working in Poland as an expat still isn't straightforward. Inefficient local bureaucracy frustrates job creation and can prevent competition. And, as a result of a history of repeated foreign violations, Polish sentiment toward expat businesspeople can be cautious. It's vital for expats to build relationships based on trust and respect to succeed in Poland. The Polish-English language barrier can also be a source of much misunderstanding.
Finding a job in Poland
Citizens of the European Union (EU), as well as the European Economic Area (EEA), do not need a work permit to be legally employed in Poland. All other nationalities are required to have the proper documentation.
If not headhunted for a specific position in Poland, expats can make use of online job portals, social networking sites such as LinkedIn and, failing those, they could check out newspapers such as Gazeta Wyborcza, in its Praca (Work) section, and the Wednesday insert in Rzeczpospolita.
Otherwise, there are some Polish English-speaking recruitment agencies that could also prove helpful to expats.
Work culture in Poland
The work culture in Poland centres around direct communication. There is a strong respect for those in senior positions or those with higher academic qualifications. Trust is paramount to success in the Polish workplace, so businesspeople should spend a considerable amount of time getting to know business associates in a social setting.
Most companies in Poland, regardless of industry, maintain a formal tone, where punctuality and appearances are highly valued. Expats should invest time in getting to know Polish business associates in order to build trust and forge solid relationships.
►For business culture in the country, read Doing Business in Poland
►For money matters, read Banking, Money and Taxes in Poland
"There is a huge emphasis on networking and social contacts in Poland. The more people you know, the easier it is to get ahead in business."
Read more about expat life in Krakow, Poland in our interview with South African expat Leonie.
Are you an expat living in Poland?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Poland. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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