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Everything you need to know about finding a job in Austria

Everything you need to know about finding a job in Austria
How do you seal the deal and get a new job in Austria? Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Austria is a modern country with a strong economy, but the job market may be a little different to back home, for many international residents.

From the best places to look to work, to the work culture in Austrian companies, there are some key differences to be aware of.

Be prepared to be a migrant worker

This can be an uncomfortable realisation, but moving to another country, whether for work or love, turns people into migrants. 

According to Sam Wade, a Native Speaker Teacher in Vienna and co-host of The Autsiders Podcast, this is something that shouldn’t be overlooked – no matter where people come from – and will help with adjusting to the new work environment.

He said: “An important first step is to drop the identifier of being an expat and accept that you are, or will be, a migrant worker. 

“This prepares you in two ways – first for how Austrians will probably look at you, like they are doing you a favour by letting you live and work here. 

“And secondly because it highlights the kind of support or advice that’s available for other migrant workers. 

“It makes you more willing to accept help and advice should it be offered, and increases solidarity with workers from countries who never get to be expats – you never hear people saying Turkish expat, Bulgarian or Nigerian expat.”

For people from non-EU countries, most visas and work permits are also tied to a condition to complete an integration course and learn the German language to a certain level (in most cases Level A2).

A door marked ’employees’. How do you search for a job successfully in Austria? Photo: Oliver Collet/Unsplash

Expect a different attitude to work

First, people tend to start work earlier in the day in Austria. 

In the UK, for example, starting work at 9am is quite normal, but in Austria it’s common to start work at 8am, or even earlier at some companies.

Plus, many workplaces finish the working week at lunch on Friday, allowing staff to enjoy a long weekend.

Collaboration is a big part of working life in Austria too, with a focus on allowing all stakeholders to have their say.

Then there is the positive work-life balance, with most Austrians taking the work to live approach, rather than choosing to live to work. 

For people from the UK and the US, where there is a strong culture of presenteeism and an ‘always-on’ attitude, the Austrian approach to work can be a welcome change.

Sam, originally from Cambridge in the UK, also advises people to educate themselves about the union system for their industry.

He said: “For people from English-speaking countries like the US and the UK, they probably won’t expect the level of support and protection they can get from their union in Austria or the Arbeiterkammer.”

The Arbeiterkammer is the Chamber of Labour in Austria and is focused on social justice. It’s the go-to place for work-related legal advice.

The service and industry sectors are big business

The service sector is an important economical player and the country’s biggest employer with 71.48 per cent of active employees in Austria working in the sector.

This is followed by industry at 25.04 per cent and agriculture at 3.48 per cent. According to Statista, these percentages have remained quite stable for the past decade – although the latest figures are from 2020.

To break it down even further, the following fields are big contributors to the Austrian economy: food and luxury commodities, mechanical engineering, steel construction, chemicals and vehicle manufacturing.

Tourism is another key pillar of the Austrian economy, especially in the Alps and lakes regions, and in cities like Vienna and Salzburg.

Statistic: Austria: Distribution of employment by economic sector from 2010 to 2020 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

The main Austrian cities are key hubs for jobs

As the country’s capital, Vienna is a popular base for international companies and organisations, like the United Nations – many of which have adopted English as the working language.

A quick search online by The Local found many English-language jobs advertised in Vienna, particularly for web developers, software engineers and roles in academia.

READ MORE: The best places to live in Austria that are not Vienna

Outside of Vienna, Linz has a strong job market and is Austria’s second largest economic area, with global companies like Borealis, BMW and Siemens based in the city.

Another popular hub for international job seekers is Salzburg, with companies like Red Bull and Hofer located in the province.

Other big employers in Salzburg are BMW, KTM, University of Salzburg and Porsche.

For technology jobs, Graz has a lot to offer – especially in biotechnology, energy and environmental technology. 

Employment in Austria has been hit by the pandemic

Austria has seen unemployment figures rise in the past year due to the pandemic – especially in areas dependent on tourism and the service sector, like Innsbruck in Tyrol.

READ: Eight weird and wonderful Austrian place names

However, since the start of the year, the national unemployment level has gone down.

In January, the unemployment rate in Austria was 11.4 per cent, but in March it had dropped to 9.4 per cent and in April it was 8.7 per cent.

In the years prior to 2020, the unemployment rate was steadily decreasing – official figures show it was 4.5 per cent in 2019 and 4.9 per cent in 2018.

Where and how to search for a job in Austria

Most job searches in Austria start online in the usual places like LinkedIn and Indeed. But there are some Austria-specific websites and platforms to be aware of too.

Karriere is an Austrian job website that lists English-speaking jobs, XING is similar to LinkedIn but focuses on the German-speaking market, and Jobs in Vienna is dedicated to job-seeking professionals and international residents in the capital.

Sam has a final word of advice though for job hunters in Austria: “It often pays to see if the job listing you’ve found in English is also being advertised in German. 

“It can happen that the pay and conditions are different in the German listing than the foreign one.”


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