Why this country?
One of Europe's best kept secrets, Latvia's lively capital Riga is home to more than a third of the country's population, boasts stunning art nouveau architecture and, as a former member of the medieval Hanseatic League, has a long and proud history of commerce and international trade.
The country's labour market has recovered from the economic crisis and is currently stable with rising employment. In some sectors there is already a shortage of specialists: IT specialists, engineers and highly qualified specialists in industry are all in demand. To be successful in finding a job in Latvia, candidates should be flexible and multi-skilled, for example in starting and running a business, with good IT and communication skills, and able to speak Latvian and/or English and/or Russian.
Looking for work?The most common way to find work in Latvia is via personal contacts, social networks and the state employment agency (NVA).
Tips for job applications?
A CV and covering letter are usually required to support the application. They are usually sent by e-mail or sometimes by post. If you apply for seasonal or unqualified work you can so do by phone, because employers usually pre-select for these kinds of jobs.
Although most Latvian businesses are keen to adapt their processes to west European standards, which (in most cases) are less formal, most Latvian companies are still hierarchical in terms of structure and management culture. This is also true of their attitude to the application procedure.The covering letter is very important and should be reliable and convincing. Employers look for candidates who understand their business, mission and market. Fraudulent job experience or other incorrect information is not acceptable. The candidate should treat the employer with respect at all times.
Is it standard to include a photo on the CV?
It is up to you whether or not to include a photo on your CV. Some employers ask for a photo, especially for positions where work is related to customer service.
Is there a preference for handwritten applications?No, the most common way of applying in Latvia is with a typed covering letter.
Is the Europass format CV widely used and accepted?Yes, either a national-style or European CV may be submitted, as long as it is targeted, clear and well written.
Making contact by phoneMore effective than sending your CV to different companies is to establish close contact with the personnel manager of a company and make a phone call to find out more about the application procedure.
Do I need to send diplomas with my application?
If requested, copies of your diplomas and other proof of your qualifications must be provided.
Should I supply references, letters of recommendation or proof of good conduct?Letters of recommendation can be helpful in Latvia because personal contacts are a very common and effective way of finding a job. References and letters of recommendation can also be part of a formal application procedure. They can come from your previous employer or colleagues, but not from relatives.
For some positions it is compulsory to supply proof of good conduct.
Usual length of time between publication of the vacancy and start of the job
One month on average.
Preparing for the interviewInterviews and tests to elicit psychological and character traits or practical skills are generally used in all companies. Employers not only focus on professional aspects, but also on human qualities.
It is very important to show your motivation for the job, your ability and willingness. You must be honest and explain what you can improve and how. You must show that you would really like to work for the company.
Dress-code tipsDress-code rules depend on the sector and position. For a bank, a state institution or an office role, your dress style should be conventional. In general, you should be neat and well groomed.
Who will be there?
In smaller companies, the head of the company or line manager conducts the job interview. In larger companies, there are usually three inter-viewers, including the head of the company or a particular division and a personnel specialist.
Do we shake hands?A handshake is acceptable as a greeting, but remember to wait for the employer to offer the handshake first.
Is there a typical interview structure?
Interviews are usually formal in Latvia. Employers may also conduct so-called 'test interviews’ which may be conducted by phone or in a group for the purpose of identifying the leader.
An interview rarely takes more than 1/2 hour per candidate. Questions are very similar for all applicants if the interview is official and formal. The candidate is expected to have prepared for the interview, and to know about the company and the position. Candidates are allowed to ask questions about the job and duties to which they have not yet obtained an answer.
When is a question out of bounds?There are various documents banning discrimi-nation on grounds of race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender, social class, language, political opinions, etc. Statutory rights are usually not impaired, but there is nevertheless some remaining hostility to diversity.
Discriminatory questions are those that ask the candidate about marital status or plans to have children. Questions regarding age, marital status, personal information (height, weight, etc.) may also be considered discriminatory. Sometimes tricks are used to elicit such information: for example employers can ask a candidate to send a full-body photo or conduct a 'stress interview’, during which they test how a potential employee behaves in an uncomfortable situation, how creative a person is, etc. This is an interesting method, but the boundary between legitimate techniques and the violation of applicants’ rights is slim.
Negotiating your pay and benefits
Before the contract is signed, the employee and employer need to discuss working conditions: salary, how often the salary is paid, working hours and overtime, probationary period, extra benefits and other topics. Wages are usually paid once or twice a month in Latvia.
Be aware that only written work contracts can protect employee and employer rights. If a verbal agreement is made, the labour relationship is governed only by civil laws, and the employee may lose social security rights.
Benefits in addition to statutory rights may include health insurance, travel expenses or living costs, gym membership, etc. All bonuses depend on the goodwill and facilities of the employer.
Is a trial period likely?No, there are no trial periods for work in Latvia.
How long is the standard probationary period?
An employer can ask the employee for a probationary period. This is usually included in the employment contract, and it may last up to 3 months. The probationary period for state/ government positions may be up to 6 months.
Will the employer cover my costs for attending an interview?Employers rarely cover costs for attending an interview.
When will I hear the result?Most companies let you know the result of the application procedure within 2 weeks of the interview. Some may not inform you of the result at all.
Getting feedback and further follow-upYou can ask after the interview when you can expect feedback. If you do not hear from them within the agreed time, you can call and ask for the results.
How early should I arrive for the interview?
The employer expects you to be on time for the interview. It shows your punctuality and sense of responsibility.