- Download our Moving to Turkey Guide (PDF)
Most expats who move to Turkey do so for the sunny skies and its ideal retirement options. There are also 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.
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. It 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 cities of Istanbul and Ankara. These major metropolises also present opportunities in the engineering, information technology, construction, finance, supply chain management, marketing and sales departments, although 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. Many institutions merely require a college degree with no formal teaching training necessary, although having the appropriate qualifications will assist in getting the job. Adequate salaries accompany these positions, but expats looking to support a family will need a larger income.
Nevertheless, the Turkish job market is restricted for foreigners, and expats are prohibited from working 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 pharmacy, nursing and dentistry.
Finding a job in Turkey
As employers have to apply for work permits for Turkey on behalf of foreign workers, expats should find employment before they arrive.
A key means of securing a job is to browse online job portals and to contact recruitment agencies. Many multinational corporations are operating in Turkey and might list prospects on their websites.
- LinkedIn and Indeed are some of the most popular international job sites where multinational companies often publish postings.
- Learn4Good and JustLanded are local job sites offering job postings for expats in Turkey.
Work culture in Turkey
Generally, Turks are hospitable towards foreign workers. This is ideal for expats as business can be intimate in Turkey. Turks like to take time to form relationships and prefer doing business with those they trust. Turkish business culture is also exceptionally hard-working, and 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 typically not questioned in public.
It is also essential for expats to remember that although Turkey is a secular state, Islam is the dominant religion and does have an impact on business culture. Respecting religious practices and acknowledging how these may impact office hours or colleagues' behaviours will assist expats in gaining the trust and respect of their co-workers. Moreover, this will also help expats adjust to the working environment in Turkey.
►Read Doing Business in Turkey for what to expect from the Turkish working world.
►For more on adjusting to life in Turkey, see Culture Shock in Turkey.
Expats share their experiences of working in Turkey
"In the education sector, we are better trained and more knowledgeable than our Turkish colleagues. There is also a difference in expectations of working hours and responsibilities between teachers working in schools with an international staff and those in Turkish schools." Read British expat Faye's interview to learn more about working and retiring in Turkey.
"The current job climate in Bursa is difficult. While many have opted to pursue teaching English, there are times when there don’t seem to be enough jobs for that option. Starting a business is a viable option, but again requires careful acquiescence to the law in terms of hiring enough employees and keeping operations above board. There are many social media groups dedicated to listing jobs for foreigners in cities throughout Turkey. Those may be a good place to begin a search." Find out more about Emily and Jesse's move to Turkey and how they've adjusted to expat life here.
Are you an expat living in Turkey?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Turkey. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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