Working in Cyprus
Expats may find that working in Cyprus is made complicated by a large population of pensioners with a penchant for rest and relaxation, and the year-round almost perfect weather. Neither factor encourages a strong work ethic nor a thriving economy. Nonetheless, expats determined to live and work in Cyprus can still find opportunities.
Job market in Cyprus
The employment of foreigners in Cyprus is overseen by the Department of Labour. According to law, non-EU nationals have to register with the Civil Registry and Migration Department, while EU citizens can work in Cyprus without any restrictions. All expats intending to stay longer than three months have to apply at the CRMD for a registration certificate as soon as they find a job.
Jobs have, however, become scarcer in the age of austerity, and there is increased competition from locals.
The tourism industry accounts for the largest part of Cyprus’s GDP. The market in the south is generally stronger than in the north. Overall, the industry has suffered as a result of global and local economic difficulties, but the holidaymaker’s market remains relatively secure and expats tend to be most successful at acquiring jobs in the hotel and hospitality sectors.
Even though the business language in Cyprus is English, most jobs demand some knowledge of Greek. English-speaking expats have gotten by in tourism without speaking Greek, although this means earning relatively low wages. Opportunities are also inconsistent as there are more positions available in the summer months during peak tourist season. As a result, many of these positions are occupied by Eastern Europeans who find the salary more satisfactory.
Adventurous expats who are after a more modest way of living may find work picking fruit in the agriculture industry. Teaching English is also a possibility, although competition is fairly high and spaces are very limited.
Aside from tourism, the economy in Cyprus relies on shipping, the service industry and energy. Expats with degrees relating to finance, telecommunications, electrical engineering and IT have the best chance of getting a job in Cyprus.
Expats who manage to find work in Cyprus often have to settle for less than they may initially have expected. In the past, this was perhaps offset by the low cost of living, but the island has become more costly and salaries haven’t necessarily risen accordingly.
Finding a job in Cyprus
Regardless of whether one speaks the language, the best method of finding employment opportunities is through networking. Tapping into the right word-of-mouth channels can be more effective than poring over the island’s English-language newspapers, the Cyprus Mail and the Cyprus Weekly. These publications are still a good starting point, while District Labour Offices in major cities and the internet can also provide valuable information.
When applying for a job in Cyprus, expats should take any face-to-face meeting with potential employers very seriously. Family and relationships are important to Cypriots, and even the most basic interpersonal relationship may be the deciding factor in securing a job.
Things tend to take time in Cyprus. Most employers wait until the last day of the month to pay their staff. Probation periods have to be at least 26 weeks long. Employees generally have to work between 40 and 48 hours a week and, generally speaking, receive between 20 and 24 days of leave a year, depending on the amount of time they’ve worked.
Employers aren’t obliged to provide a retirement scheme for their workers, although all expats working in Cyprus have to pay social security contributions, even if they are self-employed. Self-employed workers are expected to pay their social security contributions quarterly, while employees have theirs automatically deducted from their salaries.
Work culture in Cyprus
The work culture in Cyprus may differ quite markedly from that of an expat's home country. The working environment can be quite rigid with few perks for employees. Punctuality and adherence to company rules are highly valued and it often takes Cypriot colleagues a while to warm to new people in the workplace. However, with a little patience, effort and tolerance expats should be able to make some headway in building trust and a good reputation for themselves.