At the end of 1998, the official jobless rate in Slovakia sat at 16.4%, the highest in the country's history. Many job-seekers are now asking themselves what they must do in order to secure employment in an increasingly competitive labour market.
Stanislav Fančovič, a consultant for the human resources company Take It, told The Slovak Spectator that companies are looking for two main qualities from their prospective employees. "Without a doubt, it's language and experience," he said
"English is a must while German is a plus, although some companies prefer German," he continued. "Right now, companies are looking for financial managers, accountants, sales representatives, country managers and so on. When these companies look for these positions, they are looking for real knowledge achieved through real experience."
Other HR consultants concur. Ľubomír Lehuta, director of Agentúra Start, said that language and experience, followed by computer skills, were the most important qualifications today. "Nowadays, you must speak English, or sometimes German. Experience is also very important, as companies want to know how many years of practice you have had."
Martin Novotný, managing partner of Jenewein International, offered a profile of the ideal job seeker. "Naturally, the skills required vary and are specific to each company and the job description. Having said that, though, language is certainly very important as is three to five years of experience in international companies."
The dual requirements of language and experience are something of a barrier to fresh university graduates, who are eager to enter the market but often unskilled. "A university degree is actually not so important," Fančovič said, "It's more a question of 'how many years have you worked?'"
Juraj Vrabko, senior consultant at H. Neumann International, explained why. "When companies pay for a search, they do not expect or want to have to invest a sum of money or time into the person that you get for them. They want a person with specific experiences to contribute immediately."
This fact has left university students wondering exactly how they can get experience when experience is a prerequisite for a job in today's market. Agentúra Start's Lehuta says he has the answer, although job-seekers may not like it. "The bottom line is that companies are not interested in recent university graduates because of their lack of experience. So, I advise these clients to take temporary jobs. I agree that it is not pleasant, but people must not be afraid of temp jobs. Even when it is short-term, take it! Many people do not want to take those jobs because they expected to jump right into the market, but the possibilities for this simply do not exist."
8. Feb 1999 at 0:00 | Chris Togneri