Jobs there are in Malta for expat job-seekers. But what of their quality, career prospects and salaries and how to present yourself to get them? Following up our advice article by a recruitment firm, we now give an expat job seeker’s view of the employment market in Malta. Our insider arrived last autumn with a strong CV in hand after having worked in cultural management in Europe and farther afield. Sector aside, we think the insights here are applicable to more fields and useful pointers for anyone with some experience up their sleeve looking for employment that is more than entry level. Do add your comments below so we can gauge if this is in tune with the realities of Malta’s job scene.
How much did you know of the job market in Malta before arriving and did it meet or differ from your expectations when you got down to serious job hunting?
All I knew beforehand was that with Malta an EU state, I wouldn’t need a work permit or visa to work here as an EU national. Apart from that, I knew very little about the job situation here. As I never had a real problem finding a job elsewhere, I felt confident (or should I say, I hoped) I would find a similar situation in Malta.
I have to admit that the job hunting in Malta took longer than I expected. I knew the the economic crisis was quite severe in Europe but also read that Malta was in a better situation compared with Greece, Spain or Ireland for example. In reality, it took me a month and a half to find a job in Malta.
Perhaps that’s not unusual, but it was slightly longer than any job hunting I’d been through before. I think it took that time because of some misunderstandings I faced along the way. Quite a few times, I was told that people would get back to me with further details about potential collaboration but then I never heard from them. This made the job hunting a little more difficult to deal with.
What resources did you use to job hunt?
I mainly used the Internet and read newspapers to have a feeling for what was going on, who was active, which firms were communicating and so on. ETC (the government-run Employment & Training Commission) was not much of a resource for my field.
Did you feel the market was sophisticated enough to meet your personal expectations for career and salary ?
If you are looking for a job in the i-gaming sector, then Malta would probably be a great place. From my own experience, Malta being such a small island with such an artistic potential, great projects are numerous. When it comes to make a living out of it, however, things are far harder. The market is small and working opportunities in the arts are lacking. Salaries are low compared to Northern Europe and cost of living not as cheap as it used to be. The great lifestyle does compensate for the lack of professional opportunities.
How flexible did you need to be in your search?
As a traveler, one needs to be flexible. It is not unusual to start from scratch even with a long CV. I feel I was lucky to find a job which met my professional and personal interests. But again, being a complete stranger in Malta, starting a new job definitely means one would have to accept starting out all over again.
Was Maltese a sticking point?
Not being able to speak the local language is definitely a disadvantage. However, overall, I did not feel it was such a big problem.
Was there a ‘cultural’ learning curve to go through? Working in Malta not being the same as holidaying here.
Mainly I felt that somehow people do not trust you because you have experience in your field. As a close-knit place, people tend to know people on the island, so arriving as a newcomer, without recommendations, one has to face a first step of getting to know the new world around and gain trust, at a somewhat slow pace.
Also, social behaviour can be different from that of other European countries. Malta can be quite traditional and conservative in certain areas, although I feel that ambition, innovation and imagination are also here and playing a far larger role in the dynamics of the islands.
Some employers might shy away from employing foreigners as they feel that they might leave the islands sooner rather than later. Was this an issue that came up in your job interviews?
This is true but not specific to Malta. Most employers would consider this and they would be right to point it out. However, I felt most people in Malta would not really understand why one would be leaving the island. It was raised during my own interviews. In other countries, employers would be looking for experienced worker to serve a specific goal in their companies. In Malta, I felt it was more of a commitment to join a team, sort of a ‘new-family’ feeling that was expected.
What overall advice would you give would-be expats looking for work in Malta?
I would personally recommend people to come and live in Malta. The island is beautiful and summers very promising. For Irish/Spanish/Greek citizens it can also be a get-away from a very difficult economic situation. As for other countries, one should come understanding that Malta is not operating on the same level of expectations. You live and work in Malta because you enjoy the lifestyle, your job, your friends; not to save money, nor to expect an ascendant curve in your career!
Photo: courtesy of Sebastian de Gange