With Azerbaijan being part of the extensive Silk Road trade routes connecting Asia and the Arabian Peninsula to Europe and Africa, commerce and economic relations have played a major role in the country's history and culture. Although Azerbaijan is not as popular an expat destination in relation to elsewhere in Europe, the country's rich oil and gas reserves have welcomed foreign investment.
Thanks to this natural resource wealth, Azerbaijan has developed and diversified and seen an influx of foreigners seeking work opportunities. The capital, Baku, is the centre of commerce and where most expats working in Azerbaijan are based.
Foreigners working in Azerbaijan are required by law to have a valid work permit, which is usually arranged through an employer.
Job market in Azerbaijan
Given the country’s wealth of natural resources, expats working in Azerbaijan have traditionally been employed in the oil, gas and energy industries. Agriculture is another key economic sector, and the country also boasts a significant winemaking industry.
Additionally, Azerbaijan’s government has positively driven to diversify the economy beyond this. Communications and information technology are growing in importance, while tourism and education have also presented opportunities for expats seeking employment. International schools not only appeal to families who move to Azerbaijan with kids, but also to teachers with wanderlust who have experience teaching international curricula.
Infrastructure development projects and increased demand for housing have seen the growth of opportunities in the construction industry. Owing to these newfound opportunities, Baku, the country’s capital city, continues to impress with contemporary architecture and modern public transport systems.
Finding a job in Azerbaijan
Many expats move for a short-term project through an intra-company transfer. Expats who arrive in the country without a job offer in hand normally start their search online. There are numerous job portals where companies advertise in both English and Azerbaijani. It’s also worth checking out the websites of specific companies to find out about job openings.
Alternatively, prospective expats often go through recruitment companies, such as those that specialise in the oil and gas sector, while large corporate enterprises may have direct steady recruitment drives for projects in Azerbaijan.
Communication will likely be the biggest challenge facing expats in Azerbaijan. Language barriers are a common element of culture shock for an expat in the workplace. Although some Azerbaijanis may understand and speak English, particularly in the oil and gas sector, Azeri and Russian are two of the most common business languages. It's well worth it for expats to learn at least a few key phrases in one or both of these languages.
Work culture in Azerbaijan
The work culture in Azerbaijan values communication and building relationships. Azerbaijani people are known for their friendliness. This extends to business settings, where building rapport and developing mutual trust is important when doing business and at the beginning of meetings.
Islam is the predominant religion in Azerbaijan, however, the society is largely secular, and it follows that the workplace is too. Business dress is smart, similar to Western nations, and expats are also advised to dress according to the weather, which can get extreme in both winter and summer.