Hiring in countries with very low unemployment rate: Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland

Hiring in countries with very low unemployment rate: Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland

Welcome to candidate driven markets in Central Eastern Europe

Very often also many of our clients are confused and puzzled once a candidate takes more than 2 weeks to respond to a request for availability for an interview or in some cases the candidates just disappear, choose the option of ghosting and doesn't even respond at all.

Welcome to Recruiting to Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic. All economies with an unemployment rate within 3-4%.

In these markets, if you open a role it is 90% sure that you might have to employ someone that is already employed elsewhere. Most of corprorate strategies in Talent Acqusition and recruitment are based on a situation where 90% of applicants are applicants (aka willingful job seekers).

Having to recruit Hungarians, Czechs or Poles it is completely the opposite. All of them are happily having a job and would only like to hear with one of their ears your offer but most of the times they are just curiosly listening and not actively interested in your vacancy. What's the reason? What should be the solution then?

In this post we will not focus on the reason but instead more on a solution or providing readers with some hints on how to behave.

RED. Recruitment, specialised and with long experience in these markets can definitely offer you some valid strategy tips to be effective also in these Central Eastern European economies in your talent acquisition operations.

Today we have Katalin Toth, our Senior Recruitment consultant in Budapest, explaining about her experience regarding the last 10 years of recruiting in Hungary.

Your vacancy needs to be marketed

Instead of putting nominees through long rounds of testing to prove their worth, employer today must demonstrate the worth of their company to potentially uninterested individuals. Naturally, you need to investigate the candidate's experience, but you need to also be prepared to show examples of how the company is so great, why it has such a great culture, and why the work environment is enriching. Although a lot of candidates are considering multiple opportunities, unless they're excited about your role, they will automatically turn away. Call on interviewers to help them feel comfortable and pump them up with motivational reasons to start working for your company.

Instead of talking, try to listen more to their wishes and their questions

I'm astonished by nearly every interviewed pursuant who says they did not do much talking in an interview. In addition, I find it strange when an interviewer simply takes the approach of addressing their questions.

It's desirable to have about a 70-30 ratio of speaking in an interview, with the interviewee doing most of the talking. In the event you overly bombard the interviewee with questions, he'll soon give the right answers to the ones he's already interested in hearing. Callers or personal interviewers should make clear, concise, and thought-provoking interrogations, as well as spend a considerable amount of time seeking the major asset and company that is liable for the job.

Let them feel comfortable

Some of our peer interviewers often miss the boat by just asking their subjects too directly, which may make those folks feel too much pressure. They do so by speaking in a tone of voice that is too serious, which isn't conducive to interview comfort. What happens afterwards? Their subjects start to get anxiety feelings, have difficulty finding the right words, and stumble over their actions. They take home not a job opportunity but just a bad experience and a bad memory. Do you know what our brain does with bad memories? Especially when unnecessary? We just tend or try to forget them.

Use the video and multimedia tools consciously

Nowadays, in remote settings, interviews can be even a more difficult practice. When face-to-face, we shook hands, we had no lag in voice or video, and we had access to body language and visual cues. Also Zoom won't do the trick but you might actually take 1-2 minutes more before starting the interview for icebreaking and discuss something funny. In the end, we are all people and we all have funny stories, passions, fears and other feelings. Make time for empathy, it's the best investment you can make to take a genuine look at the person on the other end of the call.

Don't let weeks pass before getting in touch again

It is not bad to say that on the Hungarian market, an active job seeker can find and start a job in 2-4 weeks.

In nowadays hiring, you need to provide a minimal positive feedback already after the interview and a final decision within 1-2 weeks if you want to be competitive. When we talk to our clients, everyone understands that and all the parts commit to it but in the end, when the timing test comes, a bit of a conservative decision maker, supported by an HR manager that was out of office for a long weekend are enough to waste 2-3 hours of interviews, emails sent back and forth and also the recruitment agency efforts, if involved.

Nobody has bad intentions and everyone needs great workforce as soon as possbile but increasing the amount of communication and streamlining the interviewing process in the most efficient way is a must if you really want to face professionals as a structured and fast reacting company.

As it works also for us, every hire for a role should be considered a project with a strategy, critical few evaluators and constant weekly meetings to update eachother and take the final decision.

Entrust your own people delegating them to interviews if your calendar is full as a businessman or a manager and also be ready to enforce a "same-day" or "same-week" offer policy if feasable. The objective is one and one only, to have the role covered by the best person in the shortest time possible.

No silence is allowed

As we said, during the hiring silence is lethal but what we can also see is that some good communication is nowadays needed also after the offer acceptance stage. Do you know when an already employed candidate receives an offer and goes to resign what happens in such a market? They receive a counter-offer.

How to fix this and get well protected by possible counteroffers to your future employees? Balanced communication is the key.

The initial wonder is now past and it started a 2-week timeframe where resignees are leaving their previous employers, saying goodbye to colleagues (amazing or less amazing ones) or taking some personal time for themselves and their families.

Let's make it clear, it is also important to not exceed in pushing towards your side of the game.

Don't overexaggerate the importance of your new hire. You don't want to overwhelm them at such an early stage with org charts and work materials or appoint group meetings for them (drinks or dinners are an exception).

You can't afford to leave them in silence alone but at the same time you need to create some good reasons and occasions for contact.


Here is where perks enter into the pictures. Some of our clients started to send some welcome boxes and gifts but I would suggest at least a basic mailcard with a nice graphic stating "welcome to the team" or "we are looking forward to work together with you".

Make sure the future colleagues are informed and tell them to feel free to approach the aspirant team member on LinkedIn to welcome them to the team. When people are publicly engaged, the probability of a step back gets very low.

In general, reach to them 1-2 times to make sure everything is good, all is clear about the starting day and support them if they have doubts or questions.

These practices are a great tool also to empower the team feeling within the company and let newstarters inject a good level of excitement, positive energy and great mood.

Few considerations about compensation & benefits

Especially for bonus earning vacancies, we have seen that 75% of rejected offers are taking place when the bonus scheme is not clearly explained or in some cases not explained at all. Is this acceptable on business side? Probably yes, especially because bonus schemes are often issued within Q1 or Q2 of each year but is this something acceptable on talent side? It seems, not really. A good practice is showcase an example based on the last valid bonus scheme available and at the same time specify that this could be legally changed at any time or enforced with modifications. At the same time, many applicants are also trying to understand what was an average target and achievement at your organisation. It would be a good HR manager task to create a model and some stats to show to new applicant in the offer stage.

In fast growing economies in the CEE region, we have seen a great development of incentives and benefits added to the standard compensation. It seems that on the Hungarian, Polish and Czech market there is a certain market of compensation services and related competition with contantly new updated options when it comes to additional or undertaxed benefits. As a company, it is wise to constantly check and update this list of options (i.e. shopping cards, ticket restaurants, mortgage loan repayment funds, gym subscriptions etc.). What RED. Recruitment assessed is that most of the less successfull employers are stil using the same benefit packages since 10 years. In a generational significant swift of priorities, your company wants to definitely reshape these options to adapt to newer and updated individuals'needs.

Career perspectives

Wether people apply to a vacancy or you search and "activate" them. The main features of a job, the future of the sector you operate in or an organisation are still the most important attractive elements fo a job offer together with the salary. Although workforce's preference is oscillating constantly within bigger and smaller companies, Fortune 500 or unicorn startups, one criteria is clear, it feel very good to know that there are career perspectives in your job. This doesn't mean that everyone wants or will become a leader but psichologically it gives motivation to know that a full commitment can be scalably and increasingly rewarded at several steps. On the timescale, it could be months or years doesn't really matter. Important is to have clear the career path you are potentially facing and foresee what your profession, your skills and your achievements will be or have to be. Have you ever run without knowing where is the finish line? Why would you expect it from your employees then?

I adviced these techniques and tips to Hungarian partners and their candidates were very engaged and excited to start. In some cases they also managed to shorten their notice period because they wanted to join as soon as possible. In many other cases they entered in their new workplace super excited and previously approached their managers to know what are the biggest changes and targets in that department and it stimulated also some pre-start meetings to brainstorm how to solve them. In these very demanding countries, the paradigm that says that you get what you give is absolutely true. If you want to have engaged talents, you should be absolutely well structured and committed to the best recruitment process ever.

Not sure your organisation is recruiting in the best way in these countries? Want to validate  your recruitment process and then continue by youself? Or you just need to train your internal recruiters to these tough market conditions?

We can help you - visit our HR solutions page.