Finding work in Greece

Finding work in Greece
Updated 2020-05-05 11:54

Despite the fact that Greece's 2017 deal with the Euro-group got the IMF's stamp of approval, the country still has a very long way to go towards actual debt relief. This means that the Greek economy and the Greek labour market are still, and will likely be for a long time, suffering from austerity measures, the aftermath of capital controls and increased taxation. Finding a job in Greece is challenging even for locals, let alone expatriates -- but that doesn't mean you should abandon all effort.

Finding a job in Greece

Given that you're an EU-EEA citizen, or that you're taking/have taken all the necessary steps for third-country nationals to procure your working permit, the most important question you should be asking yourself is what kind of work you should be looking for. The country has had a long tradition of public-sector jobs, which were contributing the most to its GDP, but, after the crisis, that changed: Greece currently veers toward an export-oriented, globally focused economy driven by technology, with the number of startups having increased tenfold between 2010 and 2013. This means that if you're specialised in tech, it will be significantly easier for you to find work -- a first good step would be to join the Facebook group Startup Jobs in Greece to stay abreast of any new openings and familiarise yourself with the Greek startup scene.

If you're not specialised in any tech field, then you could probably opt for the ever-booming tourism industry -- although this would mostly mean seasonal work. A good idea is to choose the specific destination you're interested in (i.e. a Greek island) and then research the bars/cafes/restaurants etc there. Most have social media accounts, so it's easy to be informed of any vacancies, but even in the tech-centric Greece of 2017 nothing beats actually going there in person and asking whether they need more staff. If you're lucky and you do that early in the season (i.e. no later than May) you may find yourself with a place to stay as well, as many businesses also provide rooms for their seasonal staff to reside in.

For everything else, check Kariera, the biggest Greek job hunting portal. It is unfortunately in Greek (although you can Google translate it) but if you upload your CV there, you'll be immediately visible to employers at your field of expertise, without having to submit an application for every single position you come across. Consider getting a free CV review at TopCV. The website also has useful tips and news about the Greek labour market. Finally, it should go without saying that LinkedIn is your friend: although not as broadly used in Greece as in other countries, you still have a chance to find various job postings there, especially in sought after fields such as media, sales/marketing and high-end retail.

Setting up your business

Starting your own company or being self-employed in Greece is definitely not easy for non-locals, let alone for non-EU citizens. To become self-employed, you must have already had a residence permit in Greece for one year before you apply, a formal business plan (in Greek, approved by the Ministry of Interior Affairs) that proves your business will contribute to the Greek economy plus a 60,000 euro deposit in a bank account to prove solvency. If you want to start a bigger company with employees of your own, that capital increases to 300,000 euros, and 30% of your employees must be Greek citizens.

If you manage to navigate all this, then there's something else you need to be aware of: the tax percentage for self-employed professionals has risen this year from 26% to 45%, to combat tax-evasion and strengthen the various social insurance organisations like OAEE. This has actually led many Greek self-employed professionals to turn over their accounting books and seek jobs as employees (or even try their luck abroad), while it has also unfortunately increased the amount of people who are getting paid 'under the table' to avoid the staggering taxes. To summarise: surviving as a self-employed professional in Greece is not impossible, but you are advised to have a solid business plan that will make you stand out from the competition, and a healthy capital to help you land on your feet, regardless of the result.

Doing an internship

If you're an EU citizen, the Erasmus programme offers many opportunities in fields related to your studies. But regardless of your home country, what you need to keep in mind is that most internships in Greece are summer internships, usually in some kind of marine or nature preservation work (i.e. taking care of dolphins and turtles or exploring underwater caves). Of course there are also summer medical fellowships and several tech and business related ones, if exploring the rich nature of the Greek islands is not your top priority at the moment.

The Greek labour market

It's a well-known fact that people in France are often on strike. As undeniable a truth as that may be, you will soon realise that the French have nothing on the Greeks. Strikes and rallies have always been ingrained with the Greek DNA, but ever since the austerity measures, they have become such an aspect of everyday life that several websites have been created (unfortunately in Greek) with the exact purpose to help people decipher who's on strike today and why, and how that affects public transportation.

But the cliche if the lazy, angry Greek who thinks rules don't apply to him is exactly that: a cliche. Greeks actually work harder than any other nation in Europe: they put on approximately 2.042 hours of work per year, with the Germans putting on 1.371, and the US citizens 1.790. Add that to the fact that most companies will not pay overtime and that despite the fact that the minimum monthly salary is currently 495,25 euros net many companies have been known to paying significantly less that that (or not pay at all) it's small wonder Greeks take to the streets to protest so often.

Useful links:

All you need to know about the Greek Crisis

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