Recruitment | Executive Search

Recruitment practices & Job hunt in South Africa: Be prepared (for Foreigners)

With its beautiful mountains, exotic coastlines and all-round beautiful scenery – from white beaches, across coastal forest, through green rolling hills, over craggy mountains, between giant desert sand dunes and endless plains, it’s no surprise that South Africa is on so many people’s travel bucket list. People from across the world visit South Africa with not much expectation and end up choosing to live in this astounding country. We can’t blame them though, with Cape Town being named Telegraphs best city in the world again; Johannesburg being the city of dreams and South Africa being known to have diverse and friendly people, it’s only a matter of time before you will want to take the big step, and make your move to this stunning country. But what can you expect when you start working in South Africa?

South Africans are a diverse group and there is no one particular way to define the beauty and complexity of South African culture and heritage. With eleven official languages, it’s no surprise that South Africans are very open and happy to having expats in their workplace because hey, learning one more language surely won’t hurt us… For the past two decades, many highly skilled South African experts and university graduates have opted against taking up employment in South Africa and go abroad instead, this unfortunate fact opens up many opportunities for expats, often in lucrative positions, looking to live in South Africa. Gathering experience through an attractive opportunity of working in South Africa has given expats quite the career boost!


Finding a job

Most employees in South Africa work from Monday to Friday, from 8am–5pm. Under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), employees can work up to 45 hours every week, and can choose to work a further 10 hours a week in overtime

By law all jobs in South Africa must be advertised nationally, however, many jobs are also filled by word of mouth. Networking with people in your field of work could prove to be a big advantage in South Africa

It is highly advised that you use recruitment agencies to look for a job on your behalf as many companies in South Africa make use of recruitment companies. (See Initiate International)

It is also acceptable to approach a company directly in South Africa, although most companies prefer that you use a recruitment agency. You can look at company websites to find vacancies and to make speculative applications.

Dress code

Depending on the company you work for – people in corporate companies are generally dressed more or less conservatively, while people who work in agencies are dressed more smart-casual. You could come across people dressed in traditional African garments, this is however more common during evening gatherings and dinners.

Meetings in South Africa

It is common to exchange business cards at a meeting in South Africa, so make sure you always have yours handy. Although meetings could be rather informal, make sure you’re always on time. Gift giving in a business context is uncommon.


It’s very necessary to make appointments in South African. Most South Africans prefer a face-to-face encounter to a telephone call or email contact.

Networking events


Networking events are very common in South Africa, as well as business breakfasts are quite popular. These networking events makes it easier for you to socialise with people in your career field, so always keep an eye out on these (See Online Tuesday Event)

South Africa is a stunning place of natural beauty. With it’s sprawling skyscrapers, cosmopolitan dining and bar areas and many activities to suit all budgets, working in this country would be a great career move for an expat looking to experience new cultures and a change of scenery. And who knows, you might consider retiring here too. (See The top 5 reasons to retire in South Africa)