How to Talk About Jobs in Serbian

Three young people at a desk, working on laptops and smiling.

Whether you work in a Serbian company or learn Serbian just for fun, talking about work is inevitable. One of the first questions any new acquaintance asks is: What do you do for a living? That’s why knowing how to talk about jobs in Serbian will make your life easier.

But if talking about your job in Serbian isn’t your forte, don’t worry. This article will walk you through the essential phrases you need to know to do a bang-up job in every work-related conversation.

Čime se baviš?

(What do you do for a living?)

As we’ve mentioned before, the first thing people will ask once they know your name, is What do you do for a living? This is hardly surprising since posao (work) is a massive part of our lives, and most people spend a third of most days working.

The usual way to ask this is Čime se baviš? (What’s your occupation?).

Now, there are numerous ways to answer this question, the most common being:

  • Bavim se…

When using this phrase, you should describe what you do at work. For example:

Bavim se pisanjem knjiga. (I write books.)

  • Ja sam…

Ja sam precedes a job tile. So, this one is simple as you only need to name your profession.

For example:

Ja sam zubar. (I’m a dentist.)

  • Radim u…                                                                                                                                         

This one only mentions the workplace. For example:

Radim u srednjoj školi. (I work at a high school.)

But since this answer is a bit vague, you can clarify by saying what exactly you do:

Predajem engleski u srednjoj školi. (I teach English at a high school.)

A woman with eyeglasses, in a painting studio, holding a paintbrush.
Čime se baviš? Ja sam slikarka 🎨

Zanimanje

(occupation)

As for different professions, there are too many to fit into a single article, but let’s see a few of them:

  • nastavnik/nastavnica (teacher)
  • prodavac/prodavačica (salesperson)
  • lekar/lekarka (doctor)
  • advokat/advokatica (lawyer)
  • slikar/slikarka (painter)
  • pisac/spisateljka (writer)
  • programer/programerka (programmer)
  • majstor (repairman)

 

The list goes on, so if you’re occupation isn’t here, write in the comments below, and we’ll let you know about your profession in Serbian.

Razgovor za posao

(job interview)

Of course, to get any of the jobs we mentioned above, you first need to go through razgovor za posao (job interview). Yes, these can be a drag, but luckily, the questions are usually recycled, meaning it’s not difficult to prepare the answers, even in a foreign language.

So, here are some of the most common questions you’ll hear in virtually any job interview:

  • Navedite tri reči koje Vas opisuju.

(List three words that best describe you.)

  • Koje su Vaše glavne prednosti/slabosti?

(What are your main strengths/weaknesses?) 

  • Da li ste timski igrač?

(Are you a team player?)

Sure, the possible questions will depend on the type of job you’re applying for. Therefore, it’s best to practice them so you can present yourself in the most flattering light possible. So, if you’re having a job interview in the Serbian language, here are some adjectives that you’ll want to know:

  • pouzdan/a (reliable)
  • ambiciozan/na (ambitious)
  • organizovan/a (organized)
  • snalažljiv/a (resourceful)
  • posvećen/a (dedicated)

 

As the list goes on, memorize the adjectives that best describe you, and you’ll nail your next razgovor za posao!

Godišnji odmor

(paid vacation leave)

Hopefully, you’ve landed your posao iz snova (dream job), and now it’s time to take some rest. In Serbia, godišnji odmor (paid vacation leave) is a right of each employee, and you’re entitled to a minimum of 20 days per year. Of course, that’s on top of about a dozen državni praznici (national holidays.). The more the merrier!

A glass of beer on a sandy beach.
Vreme je za godišnji odmor 😁

Bolovanje

(sick leave)

Every now and then, humans get sick. Luckily, in these trying times, you can look forward to bolovanje (sick leave). While you’re recovering, you’ll receive 65% of the average salary for the previous three months.

A woman in a bad, with her face and body covered by a white blanket.
Bolovanje 🤢

Povišica

(raise)

When you’re consistently contributing to your company, but your effort goes unnoticed, it’s time to ask for a povišica (raise). Asking for a raise isn’t easy for everyone, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting what you deserve. So, how can you go about it?

Firstly, no one will give more money na lepe oči (to get something without effort). Naturally, you’ll need to make a case for yourself and prove that you indeed deserve a pay bump.

So, start by saying:

Smatram da sam zaslužio/la povišicu zato što…(I believe I deserve a raise because…)

Next, pick out your most stellar achievements and get what you worked so hard for.

Ostavka/Otkaz

(resignation/termination of contract)

Sometimes, your effort won’t get you the recognition you deserve. In other cases, you’ll feel that your balans između privatnog i poslovnog života (work-life balance) isn’t sustainable in the long run. However, that’s no need to despair – it just means it’s time to abandon the ship and look for a better opportunity.

In other words, it’s time for ostavka (resignation). As terrifying as it may be, you should always know your worth, so if you feel you deserve more, podneti ostavku (to give a resignation letter) is the right choice.  But podneti ostavku is a formal way to say to quit. For people in power we usually say On/ona je podneo/podnela ostavku (He/she quit). 

A more common phrase for quitting is dati otkaz. So, you will hear On/ona je dao/dala otkaz (He/she quit). 

On the flip side, we use the same word, only with a different verb, to say that we got fired. On/ona je dobio/dobila otkaz (He/she got fired). Though, we hope you won’t have to go through this.

Penzija

(retirement/pension)

After years of hard work, and hopefully, a fruitful career, you deserve a rest. In Serbian, retirement is penzija. The money you receive each month after you retire is also penzija.

In Serbia, retirement age is 65 for men and 63 for women. Sadly, many penzioneri (retirees) live below the poverty threshold.

However, if you receive your pension from abroad, chances are you’ll live comfortably in Serbia since the cost of living is lower than most European countries.

More Expressions to Talk About Jobs in Serbian

Finally, here are additional useful expressions to help you navigate your work-related discussions:

Kako ideš na posao? (How do you go to work?)

Idem na posao autom/autobusom/biciklom/peške…(I go to work by car/bus/bicycle/on foot…)

prva/druga/treća smena (morning/afternoon/night shift)

Idem u treću smenu sutra.  (I work the night shift tomorrow.)

Bonus slang word

Šljaka is a common slang word, and it means work:

‘Ajmo na pivo posle šljake.

(Let’s grab a beer after work.)

Also, you can use this slang as a verb – šljakati (to work):

Ne mogu na pivo, šljakam ujutru.

(I can’t grab a beer, I work in the morning.)

A man looking at a laptop, holding his head in his hand.
Ne mogu na pivo, moram da šljakam 😢

Talk About Jobs in Serbian for Practice

As much as practicing the language is necessary for Serbian job interviews, rehearsing your razgovor za posao is a perfect way to skill up your Serbian. Talk about a win-win situation!

Finally, if you need a helping hand with that nerve-racking interview, book our 1-to-1 Serbian lessons, and our teachers will practice with you until you’re bursting with self-confidence!

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