Working in Turkey

Most expats who move to Turkey work in tourism, education, real estate or finance. The country’s economy is growing, but it’s becoming harder for expats to find jobs because the government is taking steps to reduce local unemployment.

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Doing business

As an emerging market looking to join the EU, Turkey offers a foot in the door for companies interested in European, Middle Eastern and central Asian expansion – and many multinationals have opened branches in Ankara and Istanbul.

The business environment is generally dynamic and competitive and there’s a lot of demand for high-quality goods and services. In The World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business Survey, Turkey was ranked 60th out of 190 countries, scoring particularly well for protecting minority investors.

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Business culture

While there’s a desire to adopt a Western approach to business in Turkey, the conservative influence of Asia and the Middle East remains strong. Family is important to the Turks, as is respect for their religion and culture.

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Relationships

Turkish businesspeople value trust and loyalty – so it’s worth taking time to build personal relationships, even if this means things happen at a slower pace.

Management style

Rank and authority are respected and decisions are made from the top down. Despite this hierarchical approach, the opinions of the group are important. Management style is formal, paternalistic and polite.

Communication style

First impressions are important – so speak positively about Turkey when you meet new business contacts. Maintaining direct eye contact is seen as respectful, but be aware that certain types of body language such as crossing your arms or raising your eyebrows may be considered rude.

Punctuality

Although the Turkish lifestyle may seem laid-back, this isn’t the case in business circles. Schedule appointments well in advance and always arrive on time.

Fast facts

Business language

Turkish is the official language, but English is widely spoken.

Business hours

Usually 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, with a lunch break between 12pm and 1pm. Muslims may break for prayers five times a day and leave the office early on a Friday. Working hours are also reduced for Muslims during Ramadan.

Dress

Business dress in Turkey is conservative. Men are expected to wear a suit and tie, but can take off their jackets when it’s very hot and humid. Women also wear smart business suits, keeping their shoulders, arms and legs covered.

Greeting

Men greet one another with a firm handshake and direct eye contact. This is often accompanied by the Islamic greeting ‘assalamu alaikum’ (peace be upon you). Some women will shake hands with you, but wait for them to initiate the greeting.

Gifts

Gift giving isn’t an established practice in Turkish business circles. When you’re invited to a colleague’s home, it’s polite to take something small for the host but avoid alcohol and pork products.

Gender equality

While conservative attitudes are still common, businessmen usually respect female colleagues. Turkey lags behind most European countries when it comes to women holding management positions.

Expat salaries

Expat salaries in Turkey don’t tend to be as high as in many other Western countries, but the low cost of living means you’ll get a lot more for your money.

Start building your support network before you arrive in your new country. There are so many networks for expats now that you can connect and get information before you even arrive.

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All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in June 2018. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you are aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.