5 things I learned about recruiting in Prague and Bratislava

5 things I learned about recruiting in Prague and Bratislava

Last week I was in Central Europe, coaching recruiters in two Masterclasses, but also meeting many local Recruitment Agency owners and managers. The sessions were dominated by Czech and Slovak recruiters, but attendees came from 9 countries across Europe, so we had an excellent cross-section of ideas and discussion. My thanks to Vladimir Klescht and Michal Toman from Engage Advisory who organised my trip, and did so with efficiency and great hospitality.

This short trip does not make me an expert on the recruitment scene in the region, although I have been before. (Read this description of an extraordinary recruiting Conference in the Czech Republic in 2015). But I did learn five lessons that stood out in what was a fun and rewarding week.


In full voice in Prague

1: Temp/Contract is not a ‘thing’

Well, that’s not entirely true, recruiters do place people into temp and contract jobs, but it seems that is mostly at labour hire level. My unscientific ‘survey’ of recruiters at my two events, suggested that only about 10% worked for companies that ran a contract division as well as search and permanent placement business. One person explained that the concept of contract work in the white collar area is not well-accepted yet, and candidates in particular value the security of permanent work. It sounds like a market in evolution, just as we have seen in mature recruitment markets over the past two decades, and we are seeing in Asia right now.

Pumped up in Bratislava

Pumped up in Bratislava

2: Recruiters don’t get candidates from job boards

Again, highly unscientific data. I simply asked for a show of hands in both Masterclasses. “Do Job Boards rank in the top three sources of candidates?” At most 15% raised their hands. The main sources tend to be LinkedIn, historic databases, and active search.

About to start in Prague

About to start in Prague

3: The ‘old generation’ is impeding change.

This is not unique to Central Europe. I was told the same in the UK the week before. However it was such a universal theme. Young passionate recruiters and even future leaders, keen to embrace marketing, branding, social media and use of data in recruiting, hitting their heads against a wall of ‘old thinking’ from more senior leaders who reject change and inhibit fresh thinking. Building personal brand is an example of a tactic many of the younger set were keen to learn, and had even started, but many explained that they are actively discouraged from this. “I wish my boss had come to this Masterclass” was a common refrain.

The excellent organising team from Engage Advisory

The excellent organising team from Engage Advisory

4: Retainers are possible, even ‘easy’.

It’s never ‘easy’ to sell a retainer. However, it seems the market might be behind the UK, Australia and the US in it’s evolution, so it’s not as transactional and securing exclusivity and retainers is very possible, if you have credibility and a compelling offering. Internal teams are not so dominant here either, which is another factor. My friends at Engage Advisory pretty much only accept retained work.

Vodka shots at 3 pm

Vodka shots at 3 am

5: Vodka shots can hurt. A lot

Just because you are celebrating your 7th, and last, presentation in 11 days, drinking vodka shots between beers, with 25-year-old Slovakian recruiters till 3am in the morning, is a very dumb idea, and is not recommended.

The magnificent conference facility in Prague

The magnificent conference facility in Prague


Extra pictures from the Prague event

Extra pictures from the Bratislava event


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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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2 Responses to 5 things I learned about recruiting in Prague and Bratislava

  1. Alicia Vroegop April 19, 2017 at 10:09 am #

    Interesting lessons, all. The more I learn about the rest of the world…the more I love NZ!

  2. Ed Juline April 22, 2017 at 6:08 am #

    Nobody better than Michal Toman!

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