Expat Life: Looking for a job in Spain
September 03, 2015

The first piece of advice for anybody looking to work in Spain is learn Spanish! The more Spanish you have the more your employability rises, and it puts you streaks ahead of the many English speakers who move to Spain without being able to communicate beyond ordering cervezas at a bar. One way of getting a feel for the jobs market is to register on the major jobs websites like monster.es and infojobs.net (the websites are in Spanish but if you just type the word English into the search box, it will list all English language jobs.) A good recruitment agency to register with is Talent Search People, as their agents are usually quite proactive and responsive to emails once you have made the effort to put yourself on their radar.

If you still haven´t found a job in Spain by the time you arrive, don´t worry, as there advantages to searching for a job once you have arrived over doing so online beforehand. One advantage is that you can begin to network in person. It is highly recommended that you seek out and join expat community networks and attend social gatherings and meet-ups. Apart from seeking out fellow expats to connect with you should also try to integrate by meeting locals. A great way to do this is by language exchange – there are countless Spanish people looking to improve their English through conversation so you could find yourself meeting someone for a bilingual chat over a drink or a coffee every day of the week if you wanted. Aside from the social element to this, you never know when one of these encounters, either with a fellow expat or with a local, will lead to an unexpected job offer. For all the assiduous job hunting through online sources and meeting with recruitment agents, sometimes it’s through sheer luck and serendipity that you land that perfect role, but that can´t happen unless you put yourself out there.  

In the meantime, you may need to tailor your search towards industries where being a native English speaker is the main requirement. This is largely limited to the hospitality industry and some customer service roles. This could mean seeking employment as a tour operator for visitors from your native country, or working in bars, restaurants and hotels in tourists resorts, but even in these cases a basic level of Spanish will be required. During high season you will find notices for many such positions on expat job boards. This work is seasonal and much of it will drop off during the winter months so spend this time wisely by continuing to improve your language skills and making those all-important contacts with the aim of securing alternative work, if necessary, during the low season.

In the bigger cities like, Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, one source of non-seasonal work that caters for English speakers with little or no Spanish is as a customer service agent in a call centre. Many US and UK firms have outsourced these services to Spain, and they usually involve minimal training or experience, with fluency in English being the overriding requirement as you will be handling calls or online queries from English speaking countries.

The other time-honoured occupation for expats in Spain is, of course, teaching English. Once upon a time an English speaker could land a job teaching in a school just by virtue of being a native speaker, but nowadays it is increasingly expected that applicants will have completed a teacher training course. So as part of your preparations before you move it would be wise to attend a TEFL course, being armed with a TEFL certificate on arrival will allow you to hit the ground running. Be aware, though: most language schools are only open during the summer, during these months it can be very easy to find work, but again, spend the time wisely – to insure yourself against the low season drop-off, put yourself out there and find private students who are looking for classes throughout the winter months. Local governments sometimes run language courses for corporate entities, it is worth your while the agencies that provide the teachers for these courses as they run all year round and are much better paid than regular language schools.

Once you have found a job the first thing you will need to do is get a national identity number, a NIE.  We have already spoken about How to Apply to NIE in Spain in a previous post. You can check it out here 🙂

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