FInding a job in Izmir

Working in Izmir
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Updated by Natallia Slimani on 24 February, 2024

Izmir is the third largest city in Türkiye. It shows buoyant activity in industry, agriculture, and services and is a major commercial hub. As such, Izmir offers you the rare opportunity to grow your career in an idyllic seaside setting.

Izmir's economy

Izmir largely owes its thriving economy to its seaport - a major center for trade and export on a national scale, accounting for 20% of Türkiye's total exports.

The city is also a modern metropolis driven by the tertiary sector. The service industry accounts for over 67% of Izmir's GDP. Tourism, in particular, performs well in the region. In 2022, Izmir hosted close to 154,000 tourists, breaking its all-time record.

The region of Izmir boasts a number of free zone areas governed by specific, investor-friendly business regulations, which have attracted investment from many Turkish and international firms. Aliaga and Ataturk organized industrial zones are the most prominent ones, with thousands of active companies.

Ideally, mild weather conditions in the warm Mediterranean region have enabled Izmir to establish itself as a leading area for the cultivation and processing of agricultural products such as olives, figs, cotton, grapes, nuts and tobacco. The city also has a very young population; about 13.5% of Izmir's population consists of people 25 and younger.

Many global companies operate their Turkish branches in and around the city, including Philip Morris International, PepsiCo, EPAM systems, and others.

There are various opportunities for professionals who speak English, Spanish, and German fluently.

Promising fields for foreign professionals in Izmir

Izmir offers a number of opportunities to expats in quite a wide range of fields. Some of these, however, require specific expertise.

Port and trade-related activities such as cargo handling, logistics or communication offer countless job opportunities. But to apply for a position in this field, you will generally need a strong command of the Turkish language.

If you are not yet fluent in Turkish but have a good command of English, there are opportunities in other sectors. These include the media and arts industries, the tourism industry, customer service, entertainment, and education. Izmir is famous for its vast number of quality higher education facilities. Expats specifically looking to make use of their foreign language skills can apply for education-related positions in international schools or as au pairs in families.

Otherwise, you will likely be able to work in your native language at the local branch of companies originating from your home country. Take the time to look around and identify the foreign firms operating in Izmir.

The importance of networking in Izmir

Regardless of the region, a professional network is generally the most helpful resource to land a job in Türkiye. Personal connections play a huge part in Turkish society, and knowing the right people in your line of work can be very helpful in learning about new opportunities. Plus, having professional references from the local network can also give you a substantial advantage in your job search.

If you do not have a local network yet, you may want to look into building one fast.

There are several ways to speed up your professional and social networking in Izmir:

First, consider joining local professional organizations and business associations. Look for those relayed to your line of work in Izmir, and do your best to get acquainted with local professionals and business trends. Attending related events, workshops, and seminars can be a great way to meet people in your field.

Izmir hosts various networking events and meetups that cater to different professional interests. Websites like Meetup.com or Eventbrite often list such events. Attending these can help you connect with other professionals and expatriates in the city.

Engaging in community events, cultural festivals, and social gatherings can also be a way to build your network. İzmir is known for its vibrant community life, and participating in these events can help you meet a diverse group of people.

Volunteering for local NGOs or similar projects is not only fulfilling but also a great way to meet people and build a network. It demonstrates your commitment to the community and can lead to meaningful professional relationships.

Make a list of exhibitions and job fairs in the region and consider which ones you can attend. Meeting potential employers in person can be much more efficient than sending in your application from outside of Türkiye. Moreover, attending a local job fair will also give you a comprehensive overview of the local job market and available opportunities.

Learning Turkish and understanding Turkish culture can significantly help in building a local network. Language classes are also a great place to meet other expatriates and locals interested in cultural exchange.

It's also a good idea to take your job search to local business hubs and coworking spaces. İzmir has several coworking spaces, such as Regus, Workinton, Plazacubes, Originn Coworking, among others.

İzmir, like many Turkish cities, has a rich café culture. Frequenting popular local cafes and engaging in conversations there can sometimes lead to unexpected but valuable professional connections.

If building a network in person is not an option, there is always online networking:

  • Platforms like LinkedIn are invaluable for networking. Joining Türkiye-specific groups, especially those centered around İzmir, can help you connect with local professionals. To make your profile more visible to local headhunters, consider temporarily changing your location on Linkedin to Izmir.
  • Online forums and expat Facebook groups can also be of great help. You may find it initially easier to get in touch with expats, avoiding the language barrier. You may also get helpful tips from fellow foreigners on how to go about your job search in the city.

Remember, building a network takes time and effort. Be patient, stay open to new experiences, and actively engage with the Izmir community around you.

Job hunting in Izmir

A great way to start your job hunt in Izmir is by looking into opportunities advertised on Turkish job portals like Kariyer.net, Yenibiris.com, and Eleman.net.

If you are an experienced professional, the most efficient way to approach your job search is by getting in touch with international or local recruitment agencies, such as Michael Page. They often have connections with local businesses and can help match your skills and experiences with suitable job openings.

Finally, if you have a company in Izmir in mind, consider reaching out to them directly. Get the HR department's contacts from the company's website or social media pages and apply with your resume and cover letter. Sometimes, direct approaches work best, and you may end up landing the job that suits you the best.

How to apply for a job in Izmir

Applying for a job in Izmir is quite straightforward. As we've mentioned above, having local connections in your line of work is definitely helpful. However, whether you have a professional network or not, you will need to follow pretty much the same procedure when applying for a position.

Have your CV and cover letter ready. It's always best to have these tailored to the position and company you are applying for. Having both English and Turkish on your CV will definitely add points to your application.

Once your application is ready, you can send it in in a number of ways.

If you have connections in Türkiye, having them pass your application into the right hands may be best.

If you don't yet have a network, you can go through more traditional channels when sending in your application:

  • Apply via the company's website;
  • Respond to matching offers online via the job search portal;
  • Get in touch on Linkedin.

Tips for your job interview in Izmir

As you prepare for your job interview, reading up on the company you will be interviewing at is a good idea. It's also a good idea to get a better understanding of Turkish business culture.

As we keep mentioning throughout this article, business in Türkiye is often built on strong personal relationships. Thus, a personal interaction, such as an interview, is often a crucial step toward building trust and mutual respect with your potential new employer.

Meetings generally begin with casual small talk. It's customary in Türkiye to engage in casual banter before getting down to business. If you are nervous about your upcoming interview, it may be a good idea to think of some general topics in advance to get the conversation going.

Note that even though interviews tend to start casually in Türkiye, using titles and surnames is still common until a closer relationship is built. It may be best to avoid addressing your interviewer by their first name in the initial interactions as that may be seen as disrespectful.

Another thing to take into account is attire. In Türkiye, you should really dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Business attire here tends to be on the formal side: men wear suits and ties, and women often choose professional clothing such as pants, suits or a skirt and blazer. Note that it is generally advisable for women to dress rather modestly for the initial interview – especially when applying for formal positions.

English is rather widely spoken in Izmir's business world – especially in larger international companies and local companies with foreign partners. With that, knowing some basic Turkish – as well as working towards a more fluent command of the language – is definitely beneficial, especially if you plan on building a career in the country.

Legal aspects of getting a job in Izmir

The most important thing you will need to take care of first if you want to work in Izmir is the work permit. Türkiye has specific regulations regarding work permits, and they are often employer-specific.

The first step in the process is for your potential new employer to apply for the permit on your behalf. This generally involves submitting a set of documents, including a job offer and relevant qualifications. It's important to note that work permits in Türkiye also act as residency permits. They are issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, and the process typically takes around 30 days.

Once you've secured a job in Izmir, you will be entering into an employment agreement with the company that has hired you. You and your employer will need to make sure that your employment contract is in compliance with the Turkish Labor Law. It must clearly outline the job description, salary, working hours, entitlements like annual leave, and conditions for termination. It is also a good idea to have your employment contract looked over by a professional or legal expert.

Under Turkish law, all employees, including foreign workers, are required to be registered with the Social Security Institution (SGK). This will ensure that you have access to healthcare services and pensions in the country.

Registering you as an employee with the SGK is your employer's responsibility. They are also responsible for making regular social security contributions on your behalf.

Another important consideration when employed in a foreign country is taxation. Income tax in Türkiye is deducted by employers at source, and the tax rate depends on your level of income. Make sure to get acquainted with the tax brackets and deductions to help you with financial planning.

Note that as an employee in Türkiye, you will only be liable for the income you receive in this country. However, it's absolutely essential that you look into how working and receiving income abroad will reflect on your tax obligations in your home country.

Another thing you may want to discuss with your employer is overtime. The standard working week in Türkiye caps at 45 hours. Any work you do above that will be considered overtime and should be compensated accordingly. Make sure to talk it over with your employer in advance and discuss whether overtime will be in the work contract.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.