Working in Spain

Working in Spain

Find A Job

If you are an expat trying to find a job in Spain, you may notice that there are currently very few jobs to go around, particularly if you are restricted to vacancies suitable only for English-speakers. However, it is still possible to secure employment in Spain, especially if you have certain skills.

As a citizen of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA), you are eligible to find work in Spain freely and are entitled to the same employment rights and benefits as nationals. For anyone wanting to work in Spain outside of these areas, you will need both a residence visa and a valid Spanish work permit. Additionally, you will need to collect your NIE number from a police station upon your arrival, then register with the tax office (Agencia Tributaria) in order to be able to pay Spanish taxes.

If you have already secured employment, your employer will pay for your work permit; once this has been processed, you can apply for a Spanish work visa. For non-EU/EEA nationals who are intending to be self-employed, you must apply for a work permit yourself at the Spanish consulate in your home country.

Job Vacancies

Spain’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in Europe, so competition for jobs is understandably fierce. Young graduates suffer particularly when it comes to finding suitable and sustainable employment, with many choosing to widen their search to include other EU countries. Anyone looking for graduate work will find their most likely opportunity for success in the fields of I.T., industry and consulting.

Despite the current job shortages, Spain does have areas where they are desperately in need of individuals to fill vacancies. There sectors include teaching (including TEFL/TESOL), mechanical engineering, medicine, multi-media development, real estate and tourism.

Many English-speaking jobs in Spain fall under the teaching and tourism categories, though most of these jobs are seasonal or temporary. There are also plenty of opportunities to cater to the growing expat communities in coastal regions and large cities. Otherwise, being able to speak Spanish will usually be a requirement.

In the current climate, it may be easier to find a temporary or lower-paid job to begin with and then use that as leverage to find a more secure position subsequently. Self-employment and freelancing are also increasingly popular in Spain due to the current job market.

Applying For A Job

Many jobs in Spain are found through informal routes such as networking and speculative applications. Consequently, you should not restrict your search to online agencies and adverts.

To make a speculative application, simply send your CV and a covering letter to the company you wish to work for. Do your research – if the company is multinational or routinely employs English speakers, you can apply in English. Otherwise, it is best practice to send applications in Spanish. Always ensure your application is addressed to the right person and follow it up with a call or email.

Keep yourself visible on LinkedIn for networking opportunities and try meeting with individuals already employed in the area in which you are looking for work; such acquaintances can lead to word-of-mouth recommendations.

If you are applying for a job using the traditional process of responding to an advert, you will most likely be required to send a CV and covering letter, both of which should be written in Spanish unless otherwise stated. If your Spanish is rusty, ask a native speaker to read through your application before you send it. Your CV, or el curriculum, should be clear, concise and no longer than two sides of A4. Keep it professional and factual.

Start with your datos personales, including your full name, date and place of birth, current address and a contact number and email address. Include a recent passport-style photo as standard. Add your work experience and education as well as your language skills and other interests. References may be required, and it is usual to end a CV by writing that they are available upon request.

It is usual for response times to be slow in Spain, but if you don’t hear back about a vacancy within 14 days, you should call or email the company to follow up your application.

If you are selected for interview stage, you can expect as many as six interviews before final selection is made. Personal qualities are highly valued in the Spanish workplace, so the interview stage is very important. Interviews are generally face-to-face, and you may also be required to attend a group interview.

Spanish dress code tends to be more formal than casual so always dress professionally – business suits are appropriate for corporate jobs and general smart attire is suitable for anything else.

The average full-time employee in Spain works around 40 hours, between 9am and 8pm Monday-Friday, with lunch between 2pm and 4 or even 5pm in some areas. In large cities and multinational companies, however, you are more likely to find standard work hours (9am-5pm) with an hour for lunch.

If you are heading to Spain without a lot of experience in your desired field, there are opportunities to volunteer, particularly for students. It is possible to find generic part-time work whilst volunteering in your specialism, giving you an affordable way to gain necessary experience.


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