As a young man from Portugal who decided to trade his warm home land for this beautiful country, I will share with you the challenges faced by a foreigner seeking a job in Slovenia. Perseverance and determination are key traits needed in order to reach this goal, which is not as easy as it seems...
Finding a Job in Slovenia: The Perspective of a Foreigner
The advent of EU integration has brought a new era of mobility to Europe. Borders are now mere lines that can be crossed without major controls and it seems the definition of “foreign” is slowly changing within Europe.
Slovenia, due to its natural beauty and cosy atmosphere, attracts thousands of tourists and other individuals such as students, workers and researchers every year. The Erasmus participants, as part of a university mobility program promoted by the European Union, have become increasingly numerous in Slovenia in recent years, indicating that the country is establishing itself on the map as an attractive destination for foreign students.
Some participants dream of living here, others prefer their home countries, although a common denominator seems to prevail - they all love their experience! A few of them enjoy it so much that they decide to stay or come back and start their professional career in Slovenia.
Facing a hard reality: the language barrier
The first obvious step to take is to find a job. As educated individuals, we seek employers who will fulfil our wishes to use our recently acquired knowledge. Therefore, we start sending our CVs and cover letters to companies, hoping an answer will be received as soon as possible.
Days go by and no positive answer is received. Soon we realize that a university degree is not enough to clinch a job offer. As non-natives, we face additional challenges: “Why would a Slovenian employer choose us instead of a local?” Such a question has invariably been prominent in the minds of all of those non-natives who have aimed at achieving employment in Slovenia. The answer to this question will vary from individual to individual, based on their educational background and experience.
A common point seems to consistently place us behind the native candidate for consideration: the Slovenian language. In fact, most of the young foreign job seekers have little or no knowledge of the local tongue. Without such language skills, our potential opportunities become limited.
Indeed, foreigners with a little knowledge of Slovenian can always find a job in a bar, in a local coffee shop or the lucky ones might have an opportunity to work as a teacher in a language school. On the other hand, those who wish to find a job related to their educational background find themselves trapped in this hard reality with few options to choose from.
I had the chance to meet the right person at the right time. A couple of days before the beginning of the summer academic vacations in 2007, I met a young man who found my background interesting and therefore recommended me to the director of MojeDelo, Mr. Zaletel. Since the company was looking for a person with my profile, a couple of days later, I was already working and had at my charge most of the international part of the company.
At the end of the summer, I returned to my home city (Lisbon) in order to conclude my Masters in Business. With one more educational tool acquired, I came back in early February to Ljubljana and to MojeDelo with new challenges to face!
As far as my case is concerned, I believe that learning the local language is a must in order to reach my career goals in Slovenia. Future career and promotion opportunities will require such basic knowledge in order for me to be a qualified candidate worth considering.
For all of those who are still struggling for an offer, don’t give up. I am sure there is some company out there in need of your knowledge and your strong motivation!