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Students' life

Finding a job after you graduate with a university degree in the Czech Republic

Where do you look for your first real job? What expectations can a foreign graduate from the local university have in the local employment market? Alexandra Baranova, the GoStudy blog writer, tells about these and more.

If you have a qualification from one of the Czech universities, your chances of finding work here are much higher in comparison to those people, who did not study in the Czech Republic. First, Czech diploma is your pass to the Czech employment market (you do not need a work permit, which makes the employment process much easier). ⠀

Second, people with Czech qualifications are more appealing to the Czech employers, and as a result, more in demand.  ⠀⠀

State university qualifications, especially in medicine, law, finances and technical specialisations (especially in IT) are always in high demand.

Where to look for a job

You can start looking for a job while you are still studying. Even though by law you can legally stay in the country for 9 months after graduation to look for a job, it makes sense to do it sooner, while you are still a student. You may even be able to combine work with studying. Main thing is to have the necessary documents that can prove that your education is important for your professional growth, which will ultimately benefit your employer. ⠀⠀

Every Czech university website has a Job section with vacancies for students and graduates. This is the most obvious way to find a job. The employers who advertise vacancies on university websites realise that the new candidates may not have much work experience

According to a student’s survey, Škoda Auto is the most attractive employer.

Graduates with degrees in technology want to work for ČEZ Group, graduates with degrees in law – for the firm of attorneys Havel & Partners,  graduates with degrees in economics – KPMG Group, and with degrees in medicine and pharmaceutics – for Zentiva.

Microsoft is the most popular company for IT graduates. Seznam.cz and Avast are also popular choices.

Traditional ways of looking for a job include job centres and large job portals (jobs.cz, prace.cz, profesia.cz, etc.) Social media can also be helpful; create a neat LinkedIn account and sign up for job channels, e.g., on Telegram, especially when you want to work remotely or part-time. There is no shame in taking advantage in word-of-mouth job opportunities.

Another excellent option is to attend professional conferences and exhibitions (the 2019 schedule can be found here). Both have a chance to increase your knowledge of the employment market in your area of expertise, talk to people who work in the companies you like and make some useful contacts.

Škoda Auto is the employer Czech university graduates are most interested in (image the Škoda Kariéra archive)

CV, cover letter, portfolio

You should not underestimate the power of your CV. A good CV is the first step towards employment. If you are still at cross-roads and consider job opportunities in different areas of specialisation at the same time, then you have to have several CVs. If are looking for a position as a Photographer or as an Accountant, you should make two different CVs. One can be more creative and the other one – more formal. If you have diplomas or certificates in another language that can work for your benefit, you should translate them into English or Czech, i.e., into the language of your CV.

As for cover letters, don’t send the same letters to different companies, especially when they are from the same market sector. What if the executives know each other and discuss candidates over a cup of coffee?

Portfolio is the essential part of application for creative professions, such as designer, journalist, architect, photographer, web developer. There are a lot providers to help with creating a portfolio: Muck Rack, About Me, Pressfolios, Clippings, Carbonmade, Coroflot, Cargocollective, Flickr, Portfoliobox, Myportfolio, etc. It will take just a couple of days to collect all achievements of yours in one place.

What about money

Graduates with degrees in IT, banking and auto industry can expect a good starting salary.

According to portal Platy.cz, the average first salary for a Czech university graduate is CZK 30,000.

The average salary of a graduate just out of the university is CZK 23,000 net of tax (21 %). It’s a very modest amount taking into account the cost of rent of an apartment in Prague (about CZK 10,000). That is why the graduates keep on sharing the apartment with a couple of room mates during the first couple of years after the graduation.

‘I am a PR manager and promote various interesting start-ups’, says Anna, a graduate from the school of social studies at Charles University. ‘When I was a student I lived with my parents, now I rent a small studio. I didn’t want to share my flat with room mates. I was lucky to get a good a studio at an affordable price. I decided to save money for traveling or a new dress, rather than spend a fortune on the accommodation’.

You can improve your chances of finding a job. Read on to find out how you can do this.

Don’t shy away from traineeship

Let’s say, you are a journalist student and determined to make a career in TV. The Czech television regularly offer traineeships you can apply for. You can try your luck and prove yourself. Successful trainees are often offered a regular part-time position which could become a full-time job in the long run. Besides, traineeship is a great chance to try out a job and change direction if necessary.

ERASMUS: I was there

Training in other countries is good for developing your essential business qualities, such as ability to adapt to different teams, be a quick thinker, take responsibility for your decisions, manage budgets and time, ability to find answers without outside help, work under pressure. If you have relevant experience, put this on your CV as it will give you a competitive edge.

Mr. Polyglot

Being able to communicate in a foreign languages is always an advantage. Many international companies use English as their working language. In this case English is not considered a ‘foreign’ language.

‘When I was in by third year, I worked as a waiter in an Italian restaurant,’ says Philipp, a former student at the University College of Business in Prague. ‘The restaurant’s owner are Italians, and they spoke to the staff in English. I always loved foreign languages and I liked my job. So, in a while I just wanted to know more about the names of Italian wines and products, and I joined the Italian language course. When I graduated my Italian was at a good level and I was offered the HR manager position’.

Philipp’s example shows that the employee speaking the ‘native’ language of the company is valuable. This is especially important for French and German companies. The research of the job market through website jobs.cz shows that the knowledge of Polish, Russian or Spanish is a frequent requirement for potential employees.

The Microsoft office in Prague

Engineering plus humanities

One of the current trends is being a multi-expert. For example, you are a successful ad writer, which is great, but if you also know how to work with texts in WordPress and how to handle cool images in Photoshop, you are priceless. Another example: you a hotel manager, which means you know how to smile and reach common ground with any capricious client. And if you know how to make a statistical analysis of the hotel’s monthly data and can present useful charts to the boss, then you are likely to get promoted or get a salary increase. As a student you’ve got to think about which technical skills and technologies you might need in the future and learn about them on your own. Coursera and Google Training Centre are great platforms for this purpose.

Digital world

Modern people use their smartphones and computers all the time, but they do not always use the whole range of opportunities these devices offer. Before sending your CV off to a company you like, you should do some research and find out what kind of technologies they use. You can make a list of software and applications they use in their business. You might get a chance during an interview to show that you are already aware of these software programs and apps and perhaps have already had a chance to use them.

Visa and other documents

You need a student visa to stay in the country and study at the university, but after graduation real life will require a different kind of visa. To work in the Czech Republic legally, a foreign national should have either a work visa and a contract with a specific company or an entrepreneurship pass (for companies and individual entrepreneurs).

The benefit of the employment contract is that the company takes care of all the related expenses, i.e., tax payment, healthcare and social insurance of the employee. Though, there is a major drawback associated with the contract; if you withdraw from the employment contract, you lose the legal ground for staying in the country.

An entrepreneurship pass allows you find employers independently, but you will have to pay monthly social insurance contributions and take out a healthcare insurance policy. Additionally, annually in March you will have to report to the tax authorities on your own about your business activities. You can also employ professionals to do this for you.

Why they don’t employ me

Let’s say, you’ve got a great CV, five traineeships, three languages and two degrees, and you’ve been interviewed like twenty times, but each time you have been turned down and received a polite and vaguely worded rejection. Why?

Despite the fact that you are a Czech university graduate and have foreign language skills, you are still not a native speaker. When the perfect and well-bred speech is the essential requirement for the job position (spokesperson, assistant, journalist, professor, diplomatic servant, etc.), you shouldn’t be offended by the refusal, especially if you are not bilingual and don’t speak the language from birth. What can you do? If you are sure that your language skills are spot on, you may ask the employer to test you or you may be given a chance to prove your language skills during the probationary period. If you know that your language skills need work, then you can just keep on learning or try to find a more suitable job.

Be prepared and stay confident and you will find your dream job!

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Alina Baeva 29 December 2020