Beware of the ‘Boiler Room!’
You’ve arrived in a shiny new country which speaks a different language. The city is beautiful and life is good. But, sadly some facts remain the same across the world. There are as they say only two certainties in life, death and taxes. Let’s leave the former and deal with the latter. Maybe you’ve already got a job and relocated here. If so, lucky you and all the best for the future, BUT you may have friends who don’t have jobs and will have the chance to impart the following worldly wisdom to them, so read on…
For many expats language is a barrier and an asset to getting work. For most office jobs you might need a smattering of or proficiency in Czech, the downside. On the plus side if you’re proficient in English, you’ll be eminently employable as a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Teacher. For more on this take a look at our previous post.
So what’s left? Well, presently there seems to be a whole slew of jobs in the IT /Software sectors with vacancies with large companies like Microsoft and Oracle. Prague it would seem is a techies’ paradise.
For most expats the first port of call is a popular website with expats and Czechs alike. Handily it’s called www.expatz .cz. Old sweats who’ve been here knocking on a decade, tell me that in its heyday it was a force to be reckoned with. Nowadays it’s more of a cross between Ebay, Loot and Craig’s List or in old money, the classifieds section of a newspaper.
It is for sure a great place to sell your unwanted stuff and get a bargain. When it comes to picking up a job, it can be more mixed. Oddly enough, the cause and solution of this issue can be found on the same site. The main buzz around the site focuses on two companies. Both place ads on a regular basis for ‘Sales Executives’, or more grandiose titles, and make promises of whopping sales bonus and meteoric career progression. One company regularly advertises with OTE earnings of CZK 90,000 per month. To put this in perspective a regular Prague salary is in the region of CZK 20,000 – 30,000. Anecdotal evidence suggests these are the realms of fantasy with a typical basic salary of CZK 13,000 (plus commission) being the norm. The get-out clause of course is that it is ‘technically possible’ to earn the high salaries.
Postings on www.expatz.cz paint a picture of a ‘boiler room’ type operation where new employees are given a telephone and a quota of ‘cold calls’ to make While cold calling can be part of a normal sales job, in this instance the leads, i.e. the people you will be calling are not supplied by the company and have to be generated by you, personally via research done during your own ‘unpaid’ time.
‘Working for breadcrumbs’ ‘Managers are pigs’ ‘A recruiter told me he wouldn’t wish working there on his worst enemy’ are just some of the flavor of comments on the site that relate to these types of jobs.
In defence of these companies there is a smattering of posts pointing out that if you don’t have a low basic salary and aren’t motivated to hit the phones then you won’t earn any money. Whatever the reality it would seem that staff turnover is high and morale pretty low. So the sage advice with these or any other jobs would seem to be ‘Look before you leap.’ My advice is that as with most things information –related the internet is the best place to research. Obviously you may need to take some postings with a proverbial pinch of salt.
I would advise signing up to Linked In, placing a profile and joining the varied amount of groups centred on expats life and business. I have found this an excellent resource for everything from finding proofreading jobs to looking for emergency plumbers.
Remember ‘Forewarned is Forearmed’ and there are plenty of decent jobs out there for the taking Happy job hunting!
Christmas is now just a fading memory and all we have left to remind us of the holidays is the excess poundage around our waist and our waif-like bank balances. If you’re an expat, and if you’ve been back to your home nation or you’ve had friends or relatives visit, it might be the time of year when your spirits start to sag a little and everything looks a little bleak. So far in Prague this year, 2012 , I mean (I bet you’ve already written it down a few times – I don’t because we have no less than six calendars to remind us what year it is (Christmas presents!) the winter blues have been held at bay for me by the unseasonably good weather. I had been told of the infamously long and snow-ridden conditions, I am sure I’ll be eating my words before the week is out. But my antidote to all this is ‘Don’t get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Get Planning! Use these long dark nights to make sure that when the longer spring and summer days and evenings do arrive you’re well equipped to make the best of them.
If you’re missing friends and relatives then get on the telephone/Skype/social networks and start lobbying them to make Prague one of their destinations for a trip this year. You live in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and the world for goodness sake, it shouldn’t be too hard. If they’ve ‘done’ Prague, make them think again. Put together an itinerary of your favourite things that they might not have thought of and are not ‘typically tourist.’ – you might just change their minds…
For yourself, plan to do something you’ve never done before – For example I am a skiing virgin (yes you read it here first) I blame my upbringing in the English Midlands for this woeful situation. Anyway plans are in full swing to go skiing in February. On another note I feel like I am getting complacent about Prague’s architecture, so I am going to dust of the camera and start taking some pictures to put up on Facebook etc.
Finally, why not find something to swallow up some of that time during the winter nights? Start that novel or screenplay (finished my first novel in October, making inroads into the second) Pick up a guitar or a paintbrush and see what happen (it’s not advised to do both at once!) Or get creative in the kitchen. I have started making fresh bread instead of buying it and it tastes pretty good. I just hope I’ll fit into my ski trousers. Whatever you do – have fun!