Political uncertainties, namely the high terrorist threat, are likely to have an effect on recruitment and may pose a risk to foreign workers. Before travelling to Turkey check with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and follow the developing situation in the news.
Turkish employers, especially small and medium-size enterprises, tend to favour applications from Turkish Nationals, but many large Turkish employers and international employers with offices in Turkey look upon good quality applications from UK graduates favourably. It is generally easiest to secure a graduate position in Turkey by applying to international companies before leaving your home country. Most large companies with operations in Turkey have clear career structures and, in some cases, graduate schemes.
There are considerable opportunities to teach English in Turkey, either through a language school or privately. It is also often possible to find work in the tourism industry, although this will probably be of a non-graduate level and therefore not be as well paid.
Typical problems encountered: unemployment remains high in Turkey and there is an increasing number of Turkish people attending university. As a result, they are competing for the same number of graduate-level positions that UK graduates might also be interested in. Turkey has restrictions on several graduate professions, for which only Turks are allowed to work. These include medical doctors, dentists, midwives, pharmacists, opticians, veterinarians, chemists, judges and lawyers. The visa application process can be difficult to follow but some employers may help with this.
How to improve your chances: Turkish employers like to take on graduates with relevant work experience. As a result, it is worth gaining as much experience in the UK as possible, so that you can demonstrate your skills. Many international corporations have offices in Turkey so it may be worth applying for jobs with them as a route into Turkey. The employer will then be able to help with relocation and visa applications.
Language requirements: being able to speak Turkish is not necessary for gaining employment, though it is advantageous as being able to converse in Turkish is looked upon favourably. Many professional Turkish workers speak English to a high degree. Turkish language tuition exists in the UK at various colleges. In Turkey, one of the most reputable colleges is TOMER, which has branches throughout the country, although private tuition on a one-to-one basis can often be organised locally.
Where can I work?
Major industries: clothing and textiles, food processing, agriculture, autos, electronics, mining, steel, petroleum, construction, lumber, paper, tourism.
Recent growth areas: automotive, construction, and electronics industries.
Major companies: there are already over 400 British companies operating in Turkey. Major international companies include Aviva, BP, Shell, Vodafone, Intel, Daimler, Unilever (UK), Marks and Spencer, HSBC, Tesco, and Cadbury Schweppes. A number of clothing retailers such as Next and H&M use factories in the country to produce clothing and accessories. Sabanci and Koç are two dominant family business conglomerates within Turkey. They are involved in everything from white goods to private universities.
Major cities: Ankara (capital), Istanbul (largest), Antakya, Antalya, Adana, Bursa, Diyarbakir, and Izmir.
What’s it like working in Turkey?
Average working hours: officially, the number of normal working hours for an employee is 45 hours per week. Anything exceeding that is considered as overtime, for which extra wage is paid. The Turkish working week generally runs from Monday to Friday, though there is flexibility for many Muslim workers to attend Friday prayers.
Holidays: there are five set annual public holidays: New Year's Day, Children's holiday, Ataturk and sport day, Independence (victory) day and Republic day. In addition to the above, there is a three-day holiday at the end of Ramadan and a four-day holiday at the end of the Sacrifice holiday.
Average graduate starting salary: salaries for foreign nationals are generally paid in foreign currency, or otherwise if in Turkish lira (TRY), the salary is negotiated on an annual basis to a foreign currency equivalent.
Tax rates: 15% on a sliding scale up to 35% for salaries over TRY40,000.
Working practices and customs: business dress is conservative, men are expected to wear a suit and tie and women are also expected to wear smart professional outfits. Turks expect business meetings to be arranged in advance usually via the telephone and they expect visitors to arrive punctually, although it is possible you will be kept waiting. Communication styles do differ somewhat to the UK. Turks like to build a personal relationship with those they are doing business with; as a result of this, personal questions about family and children are often asked as a precursor to actual business taking place. Turks often stand very close to each other whilst holding a conversation and eye contact is vitally important in business meetings. Gift giving is not a common practice in Turkish business relationships.
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