One of the most common questions I get is how to find a job in the Balkans. So many people who fall in love with this part of the world want to come back here and spend an extensive amount of time in one or more of the countries.
But most quickly realize that finding work in the Balkans is a bit of an uphill battle. There aren’t exactly so many Croatian or Serbian jobs for US citizens and other foreigners like me. And why would there be?
Many of the countries still have overly corrupt political institutions and not the strongest economies. Expats that I have come across living here often have found some way to make an income online instead, whether it be freelancing or starting their own company (I honestly think those are the best options if you are determined and open-minded enough to work towards that).
The cold hard truth is that it is hard for locals here to find a good job with a great salary, yet alone foreigners. But I believe if you truly want something and you must have it, you can get it. This post is for people who will do whatever it takes to live here, even if that means things taking time or settling for a not-so-great salary.
1 – Search for foreign companies located in the Balkans on Glassdoor.
You will be so surprised to learn how many foreign companies are actually in the Balkans by searching Glassdoor. This is one of the best things you can do to gather a list of foreign companies that are more likely to hire someone who speaks fluent English, or any other language required for the company’s consumers. Even though I serendipitously got a remote work opportunity which allows me to live here, I still wish I had known about Glassdoor in my search for international jobs in Serbia because I was stressed out by the lack of companies I was finding at the time.
All you have to do is go to Glassdoor and select the city you want to search for companies in. Then select “companies” from the drop down menu beside it. You will then be shown all the companies in that city listed on the website. From there, you can see the city and location of the head office for each company, and you can find a lot of foreign companies just by scrolling through the pages. Not all of them hire foreigners, but some do. You can find bigger companies that could offer EU jobs in Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria or wherever. But you can also discover smaller sized businesses as well.
2 – Google “outsourcing company in __________.”
A quick way to find foreign companies that can provide a more livable salary for what will most-likely be a customer service position for fluent English speakers, is to search for outsourcing companies in your desired city and county. There are so many companies now that have outsourced to Balkan countries to save money, so they will be easy to find. Many of these companies, like NCR and Sitel in Serbia, or Serengeti and TMF in Croatia, constantly have positions available for fluent English speakers.
3 – Get help from your embassy.
The third rule for how to find a job in the Balkans is to know that your embassy is your friend. Well… maybe.
You can contact your country’s embassy in the Balkan country you wish to live in to be provided with a list of companies from your country that have a location in the Balkans. You can also, in your own country, contact the embassy of the Balkan country you want to live in to see if they can provide you with a list of companies for work in the Balkans. This route can be very hit or miss. Some embassies will have a list, and some won’t. But it’s worth a try.
4 – Ask a friend in that country to help you find suitable companies.
One of the benefits of having traveled so much in the Balkans is that I created a lot of friendships in many of the countries. So when it came time to look for a job, my friends became my resources and they helped me a lot. I was mostly considering working in the capitals of Serbia, Macedonia and Croatia. I asked all of my friends in those countries if they knew any companies that hire English speakers for some sort of position. They all gave me names of the companies they knew. A few of them asked some of their friends and came back to me with more names of companies. And one of my friends even sent my CV around to some different companies which was super sweet of her.
5 – Ask city experts on TripAdvisor.
One of the best connections I made in the Balkans before I moved here was through TripAdvisor. I posted in the forums of all the cities I was interested in moving to, asking if any locals knew of any companies that hire English speakers. I got no responses from almost all the forums. But one guy in Croatia told me to add him on Facebook and that he could help me. Turns out, his partner moved all the way from Indonesia to Croatia to live with him and was able to find an English-speaking customer service position in an outsourcing company in Zagreb. He became a great resource, and better yet, friend to have!
6 – Consider teaching English or some other in demand language to know.
I was never interested in teaching English. But after meeting a girl who lived in Albania teaching English, I briefly considered it. Who wouldn’t consider teaching jobs in Croatia by the sea or beautiful Albania?
But teaching was never something I felt comfortable doing, so I really do not know much about teaching English to offer so much advice about this subject. But there are so many avenues for teaching English now is all I can really say here. You can get your TEFL certificate and go the formal way. You can also teach English online through websites like Preply or Italki, which are only two of more than 50 common sites. And of course, if you have some connections in a city you are interested in moving to, you could pursue getting hooked up with a gig teaching to companies and business people.
Many people in the Balkans move to other parts of Europe as well. So if you speak French, German, Spanish or even a Scandinavian language like Norwegian or Danish, that is another thing you can use to your advantage.
7 – Visit your desired city before you move and make important connections.
Even though I am financially stable here, I will occasionally meet people who ask me if I would be interested in an opportunity at their company. Either that, or they will tell me about an opportunity at a company where their friend, boyfriend or cousin works. I always tell them that I am interested to hear about it, but I have to decline.
Had I met some of these people a few months before I moved here though, it would be a completely different story! So it’s cool to connect with people who can help you out in that way. If you can, it would be good of you to travel to wherever you are interested in living beforehand, meet locals, and just see what can come out of that. Ask them questions like, “Do you know any companies that hire English speakers?” or “Do you know any companies that have a need for people who speak Spanish,” if you are a Spanish speaker, and so on. The more people you know, the more people you can use as a resource. And when you have met them in person already and have developed a friendship, they’ll feel even more inclined to look out for you.
8 – Network and connect with locals through social media platforms.
Like I did with TripAdvisor, I tried to connect with natives of the countries I was interested in moving to online. I would interact with Macedonians on Macedonian Facebook pages and comment along with Serbians on popular Serbian Instagram accounts. I tried to make as many connections online as I could, and those connections would always be so open to helping me. Locals will love that you care about their country so much, and helping you find work abroad in Croatia or Montenegro or wherever you are headed will be something they are happy to do.
9 – Create online content about the place where you want to live and companies from the place you want to live might contact you!
It’s so funny to think how I ended up here. I was searching for a job for about 4 months, and then something interesting happened. Companies started to contact me because of my youtube channel. Because I had an online presence and was the American girl obsessed with Balkans on youtube, I received a few offers from business owners who saw something in me and essentially wanted to create an opportunity for me. I don’t know that I would be here had it not been for my youtube channel. And honestly, I ended up getting an opportunity to with a remote work company based out of London.
It looks like I got lucky. But I created my own luck by having an online presence and platform where companies could see value in me. I highly encourage everybody to have an online presence dedicated to something you are passionate about. It doesn’t have to be youtube. It could be Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Periscope… There are so many avenues.
One of my friends has had an Instagram account for years, mostly about her travels to football games. She then started to get attention from soccer media sites and got a gig as a social media manager for one of them. After a year of doing that in the United States, she was able to parlay that into world football. She has now been based in Venice doing social media for Italian teams. Living and working in Venice? Talk about a dream come true!
I am sure when she started off with Instagram, she had no idea her humble love and passion for football would take her to Venice as an Italian expat.
My point is that it is so valuable in this time in the history of the Earth to have an online presence, because so many amazing and unexpected things can come from it.
10 – Join an expat Facebook group and search the posts history.
One of the best ways to discover job opportunities and learn of companies you have never heard of is to join an expat Facebook group dedicated to the city or cities you are interested in living in. Occasionally people will post that their company is hiring, or, expat business owners will often post in these groups to recruit fellow expats.
11 – Check out job listings on expat forums.
Somewhat similar to expat Facebook groups are forums on expat community websites like Internations or Easy Expat. If you go to the message boards, there are often postings about job opportunities. And occasionally, companies like to drop by these forums for recruitment as well.
12 – Ask content creators, influencers and micro-influencers.
Did I just call myself an influencer? LOL. But the truth is, the reason you’re reading this is because my experiences that I write about can influence your efforts to find a job. Connecting with another Youtuber is the sole reason I landed on the opportunity that has allowed me to live and work in Serbia.
So it is worth it to reach out to people with some sort of public profile in the city you desire to live in because they have already been through what you’re going through and have found some way to reach their goal. Use them as a resource. They won’t always be able to help you, but the more people you reach out to, the more you might be able to find an opportunity for yourself.
Please share this post with anyone you know that is looking for work in the Balkans! And if it is you and you have any more questions related to how to find a job in the Balkans, ask me in the comments below. I am happy to help. Or feel free to message me on Facebook or Instagram.