Over the past nine months, since I've begun blogging, no fewer than five Western businesses have approached me wondering if I'd like to work for them in their new Serbian office. None of them knew anything about my skills, education, experience, or had even met me in person. They only knew I was an American businesswoman who now lives part of the year in Serbia. They've ranged from bio-tech companies to Internet firms.
Although Western companies do, on occasion, aggressively headhunt top qualified candidates for key positions, pinging random bloggers to see if they want jobs is not remotely normal. So, why is it happening to me? Desperation I suppose.
Companies want Western-educated or at least Western-experienced execs on their teams in Serbia, just simply because they share a common understanding of how business "should" work, plus a common background makes communication far easier. I know from personal experience. In the past, I've hired and managed native Serbs located in Serbia for a US company. It was a highly stressful and even miserable experience for both sides much of the time, due to cultural differences, working style differences , and communication misunderstandings (not to mention typical Serb paranoia and jealousies versus American naïveté.)
I am, luckily, no longer in charge of hiring for any company, nor do I ever wish to be again. But, if fate forced me into that role again, I would avoid hiring in Serbia unless I had a Serb-born leader with significant Western business experience as my manager. You need managers who bridge both worlds to be able to be successful.
Western companies, especially those which do business in many nations, understand this. So as they step into Serbia, they're looking like crazy for those cross-cultural managers. The problem seems to be, those people are not at all easy to find. Hence, human resources managers start pinging random bloggers like me.
Let me make it clear, I am not a connection for any jobs in or outside of Serbia, nor am I seeking a job myself. However, I can give this advice: if you are an expatriot looking to move back to Serbia, start a profile for yourself at LinkedIn.com and include the keywords Serbia, Belgrade, even Yugoslavia in your profile so potential employers will find you when they do searches. It's free. It's also a great place to search for connections to your old friends who are now in the West as well, who might be able to help you with your search.
Anybody else got advice for Serbs seeking jobs with Western companies coming to Serbia? Please add your advice to the comments below. I'm not the best expert - you are!