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Working in Italy - Advice & Tips


Expatriate Affairs Consultant Nannette Ripmeester tells you below what it takes to get a job in the country well-known for its ‘Dolce Vita’. However, you need to truly love the Italians and Italy to find a job as foreign job seeker, because jobs are not abundantly present and salaries are not too high.

Job hunting in Italy

One of the best ways of finding work in Italy is through networking. For an outsider, developing such contacts may be difficult at first. However, perseverance is often rewarded, as the initiative demonstrated is in itself a recommendation. Speculative applications are likewise often successful. Make use of a very formal style for your letter and include impressive references with your speculative application. In particular, when accompanied by a good recommendation ("segnalazione") from someone familiar to the company, such as a university professor, a friend, a member of the family, or a company executive, your speculative application stands a greater chance. An introduction of a well-known person is extremely effective, because in Italy the emphasis is more on ‘who’ you know, than on ‘what’ you know (although as a foreign job seeker the right qualifications are essential, even if you have some distant Italian relatives ...).

Furthermore, be aware of the large economical differences between the North and the South of Italy.

The Application Letter

In general a letter of application should create enough interest to make the potential employer want to look at your application in more detail and hopefully invite you for an interview. Your application letter, however, should not provide too much information about experience and qualifications; this will be provided in your CV.

The style of the covering letter is conventional and formal, almost with stately language. Explain briefly why you are interested in the job and the company. But leave the full explanation about your motivation until the interview when it can be given orally. In Italy, the information will be better received in verbal form. Likewise, copies of diplomas and references should not be sent together with your application letter and CV, but should be brought to the first interview. Of course, if you have really impressive testimonials do send them with your letter.

The covering letter is usually typed - only occasionally an employer requests a hand-written letter. The letter should be kept short (1/2 to maximum one page). Application forms are hardly used, except by some (foreign) multi-national firms.

The recruitment process tends to be long, up to three months. You should check carefully what kind of time delay to expect for a response.

The Curriculum Vitae

There are no strict rules for CVs in Italy. But a CV is best received when it is brief, about two pages long ¬ although CVs of four or five pages are not uncommon either ¬ and in chronological order Include in your personal details your date and place of birth, your nationality, your telephone number (including international access code) and your civil status. Hobbies are rarely mentioned in your CV. A photo is not requested.

The Application Procedure

The recruitment procedure usually consists of three to four interviews and some psychometric tests. Be prepared for questions about your motivation. As far as qualities are concerned Italian employers look for enthusiasm, communication and relationship skills. A fairly informal atmosphere is general, with each recruiting officer following his/her own, usually intuitive style. Only if the personality of the candidate is deemed apt, the recruiter will continue to look at his/her professional experience. Hence the importance to establish good personal rapport during the interview for the interviewee.

Pay a lot of attention to your appearance for the interviews; the way you are dressed is of significant importance for an Italian employer, it shows your true interest for the job! Salaries are rarely discussed at the first interview, and do not ask for this!

On-line applications are nowadays common. In fact, a lot of job agencies, but also employers who publish their vacancies on-line provide the opportunity to complete the job application form on-line.

If we got you started on Italy – think about ordering the guide ''Looking for work in Italy''.

About the author

Looking for work in ItalyNannette Ripmeester is the expatriate affairs consultant to several multinational companies, which she advises regarding the strategy of international assignments and the practical implementation around expat issues.  Ripmeester started her international career at the European Commission, has worked on a project basis in 17 countries and is founder and Managing Director of Expertise in Labour Mobility (
She is co-author of a series of country-specific guides, the guide "Looking for work in Italy", (ISBN-13: 978-90-5896-071-9) is part of that series of guides. To order this guide or other guides that will help you to secure the international job you want, visit our website:  As a reader of Eurograduate we offer you a 10% discount if you are your copy here.