Jobs in the Czech Republic
To hear the old Prague expatriates tell it, the early 1990s were a time when any American, Canadian, Brit, or Australian could arrive in Prague and have a dirt-cheap flat and an outsized income by lunchtime. They worked when they wanted during the day and partied all night on 10-cent beer. Finding a job in Prague that you can live on is no longer so easy.
That said, even with the changes in the residency permit laws (see Mishelle Shepards article in the September/October 2000 issue), there are jobs here, and the easiest way to find them is still to come here and look. While its possible to get hired for some positions via email, you run a real risk of tying yourself to something that may not be at all what you had in mind. Best to see the whites of your potential employers eyes before committing yourself.
While you must apply for a residency permit outside of the Czech Republic, its probably not practical to apply from your home country, especially if your home country lies across an ocean.
Some companies will hire you without a residency permit, but beware. If they dont pay, you have no recourseand I know plenty of expats who have found themselves in just that situation. Once you find a job you feel you can live with for a while, start the legalization process. And be prepared with some savings to live on while you wait to get the permit and get paid.
The Job Hunt
Most expats started out doing whatever work they could find and went from there. Expect to spend a good deal of time, especially if you dont speak Czech, working as a cobblerpicking up some English classes here and there or answering an ad for part-time proofreading help or even web design. The Prague Post, www.praguepost.cz, the weekly English-language newspaper, is the best place to look for possibilities.
In any given week, 95 percent of the jobs listed in The Prague Post are for English teaching positions. While finding a position without a TEFL certificate is not difficult, the training will help you to know what to do on that first day in front of a new class.
Teaching private classes can be more lucrative, but it will be difficult to get your residency permit without an actual employer to back you up. If you do work illegally, just be sure you cross a border before your tourist visa expires.
Whats Hot: High-tech skills will take you farthere are numerous Internet start-ups and old veterans in the city. Look for job postings in The Prague Post, and also on Monster.com. English-language publications and multinational companies also often advertise for editors, writers, and people with business, marketing, and accounting skills.
Like everywhere, getting the job you want depends upon who you know. I found my current dream job as an editor for an Internet news magazine because I interned for them virtually several years ago and volunteered to do some projects when I first got to Prague. The more people you meet in Praguenot just expats, but especially localsthe better your chances of finding something youre satisfied with.
Until you do, it can be fun to be a cobbler. When I was teaching for three schools and freelancing as an editor and writer, I set my own schedule. Now that I have a more traditional job, my income is steadier but so is the routine. I love what I do, but I also enjoyed my initial Prague lifestyle as a cobbler. Dont be afraid to take similar risks.