"I would say, if you are a young manager out of university, go east. You won't have the lovely Bratislava opera there, but there are jobs with a lot of responsibilities and a good starting salary."
Douglas Stewart, Personnel Select
Given this development, it comes as no surprise that despite attempts to stabilize wage levels, salaries continue to vary wildly, directors from leading personnel recruitment agencies in Slovakia said.
"I have seen, for example, financial managers making anywhere between 14,000 Sk to 60,000 Sk," said Ronald Baštýř, a consultant with Personnel Select. "And the difference does not always reflect quality."
Because of the dearth of well-qualified candidates, Baštýř said it was harder to fill key positions at companies in Slovakia than in many Western countries.
Marta Kubinská, a consultant with Helmut Neumann International, said that wage differences are due to different capital resources. "Generally, foreign companies which usually have a strong financial background try to offer high salaries in order to get the best people," she said.
She should know: Last year, Neumann caught probably the biggest foreign fish in the domestic pond when it got an order to fill 150 openings for Globtel, a new operator of the GSM mobile phone network.
The firm also did a personnel audit of some 600 employees for Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (Slovak Gas Industry - SPP), one of the country's most profitable companies. According to Kubinská, local companies are still considering personnel consulting, but mostly relying on their own personnel departments for recruitment and personnel development.
While the largest companies may be able to fulfill job searches in-house, at least one personnel consultant said that most lack the necessary tools to do it right. "If you want to invest in people," said Peter Ostertág, director of Dr. Ostertág, "you must first create the resources." Ostertág added that Slovak companies have not yet implemented effective personnel policies more due to recent financial hardships than long-term neglect of the practice.
Illustrating his theory, Ostertág said that Slovak companies often employed very effective models of personnel management before 1989. "Big companies have always been applying the newest American, German or other models," he said. "Some procedures that personnel consulting firms flaunt as a novelty have been known here for a long time." Perhaps that's why Ostertág does not entirely subscribe to the view that companies must rely on personnel consulting firms for their recruitment and employees' development.
"There are some periods when they must look for specialized assistance, and some when they don't need to," he said. Though the market still pines for more skilled, experienced Slovak managers, one personnel consultant argued that up-and-comers should consider moving out of the capital, where demand is even greater for their services and talents. "Generally, we see a lot of production companies coming to this market," said Douglas Stewart, director of Personnel Select's operations in Slovakia.
"There are more opportunities for employment, especially for young managers, arising outside the capital," Stewart said. "Slovakia has an educated workforce and a fairly solid infrastructure. I would say, if you are a young manager, out of university, go east. You won't have the lovely Bratislava opera there, but there are jobs with a lot of responsibilities and a good starting salary. " To meet this perceived trend, Personnel Select is planning to open a new office in central Slovakia by this December.
19. Jun 1997 at 0:00 | Juraj Draxler