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Working in Turkey
Find out how to get a job and work in Turkey
If you thought of Turkey mainly as a tourist destination, think again! Many expats are drawn to Turkey not only due to its hospitality and warm climate, but also for the many business opportunities. Our guide has details on working in Turkey and tips on the job search and business etiquette.
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Employment in Turkey
Unfortunately, Turkey’s present unemployment rate is rather high, at around 10%. Expats who plan on working in Turkey should be aware that job opportunities are not that easy to find. However, it is not impossible as there is also a lack of qualified local employees in specific fields.
The Turkish business world is shaped by a strong emphasis on the importance of personal relationships. While on your expat assignment in Turkey, you will quickly find out that business is often conducted slowly. Unlike in some other countries, pressure will not get you far. Instead, patience and a talent for personal interactions are the key to successfully doing business in Turkey.
Which Field Fits You Best?
Despite the high rate of unemployment, there are quite a few job opportunities in Turkey if you have the right qualifications. If you are not sent to Turkey as a diplomat or on an intra-company transfer, you may be able to find employment in the following fields:
- translation services
- hotel and restaurant management in the tourism sector
- technical engineering and programming in electronics and control technology or computer software
- healthcare and medical professions
The Big Job Hunt
When you arrive with nothing but your plans of working in Turkey, the job search may seem complicated at first. However, local offices of the Turkish employment agency may help you find a placement with a company. Their offices are located in every larger city in all 81 provinces. However, they usually only cater to job seekers with good Turkish skills, so be sure to have a decent command of the language before coming to Turkey.
Online searches and daily newspapers are a great source as well. The weekend editions of Hürriyet, Milliyet and Sabah are especially interesting and websites like Jobsin Turkey advertise jobs for expats who speak English.
Networking also has a big effect in Turkey, as business relationships are largely based on personal trust. Contact other expats and see if they have some suggestions for how you can go about the job search.
Getting Some Help: Private Employment Agencies
Employment agencies are an alternative to the traditional job search. Most private agencies are specialized on middle management or executive positions for people working in Turkey. You can find the contact information of these agencies in the classifieds sections of local newspapers. Make sure to inquire about costs and the agency’s approach before you sign up.
Alternatively, you can start your job search before you get on a plane. Turkish employment agencies may also show job listings in newspapers in your country of residence. These may provide you with additional information on being employed in Turkey.
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Etiquette and Social Security in Turkey
The Key to the Turkish Business World
The dress code in Turkey’s business world does not differ much from standards in other European countries. Women, though, may tend to dress rather conservatively and refrain from using too much make-up, perfume, or lipstick.
Quality pens and other items which are used in the office are acceptable gifts for your business partners. However, you should make sure to avoid giving away alcoholic beverages of any kind. Islam is the most important religion in Turkey, and practicing Muslims are not allowed to drink alcohol. If you are unsure of whether or not your contacts are particularly religious, a bottle of wine or scotch might not improve your business relationship.
When you receive a dinner invitation to someone’s home, you should make sure to bring a small gift as well. Luxury chocolate, a decorative scarf for the hostess, or flowers are good choices.
Business Meetings: Building Relationships
First-time meetings in Turkey are about building a relationship with your new business partners. Small talk is encouraged, show interest in your business partners’ children, family and home country. It is important that you avoid any controversial or political issues in order to avoid upsetting anybody.
Your business partners may take you out to a business dinner at some point. As their guest, you will not, under any circumstances, be allowed to pay for your share of the bill. Instead, thank your host by reciprocating with a dinner invitation at a later opportunity.
Personal Business Contacts
Business relationships are personal in Turkey. Turkish people will hesitate to do business with anybody they do not know or trust. An excellent proposal demonstrating the mutual benefit of the professional relationship is essential, of course. However, building a strong personal relationship has an even stronger effect. Therefore, business is done at a slower pace than what some expats may be used to.
Many businesses in Turkey are family-owned and run. First-time meetings are often held with younger members of the family. However, you will have to work your way up to the head of the family. Be patient and refrain from using deadlines and pressure tactics. This may upset your business partners and lead them to pull out of the deal.
Social Security: All the Support You Can Get
To be covered by the Turkish Social Security System, you have to have a work contract with an employer in Turkey. The Social Security System covers:
- social security (health insurance, sick leave, maternity leave)
- pensions (disability, old age, survivors)
- unemployment benefits
If you are working in Turkey, you are entitled to full coverage under the Social Security System. Contributions are made by you, the employee (9% of your gross salary), and by your employer (11%).
Employers have to file an application with the Social Security Institution to register their employees. Only if the employees have come to Turkey through a sponsorship agreement or contribute to a national security scheme in their home country are they exempt from paying contributions.
A certificate of coverage has to be filed with the respective Turkish authorities. If you do not meet the conditions for an exemption, you must contribute to the Turkish Social Security System.
Social Security Agreements
Moreover, Turkey has Social Security Agreements with the following countries, and you should ask your social security office at home about the respective regulations before leaving:
- Canada (including Québec)
- Cyprus (nothern part)
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
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