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Working in Spain - Advice & Tips

Spain

Expatriate Affairs Consultant Nannette Ripmeester tells you below what it takes to get a job in one of Europe’s hottest markets. Spain is not only a fast changing economy; it is also a booming market relatively open to foreign job seekers.

Job hunting in Spain

Personal contacts are the most important route to employment. For that reason a working holiday or a temporary job in for instance the tourist sector might be a good stepping-stone to more permanent work. Your temporary job will allow you to get acquainted with some Spanish people, who could help you in spotting employers that are likely to recruit in the near future. A speculative application is a logical next step. Spanish employers use general company advertisements instead of advertisements for specific jobs. Use a formal style.

Especially for small and medium sized companies informal methods of recruitment (word-of-mouth, networking, speculative applications) are most common.

Despite the fact that in Spain manners are rather formal and companies are hierarchically structured, people are usually very open and welcoming to foreign job seekers. Some years ago this might have been different, but Spain is a very fast changing country at the moment. However, formality still has its influence on the recruitment process, as has the regional division of the country. In general you can speak and work using the Spanish language throughout Spain. But when you work in Catalunya, people do expect you after a while to be able to speak some Catalan.

The Application Letter

A letter of application should create enough interest to make the potential employer want to look at your application more detailed by reading your CV and hopefully invite you for an interview. Your application letter, however, should not provide too much information about personal experiences and qualifications; this will be provided in your CV.

In Spain a CV is always accompanied by a typed application letter and sometimes by a recent photo. Testimonials of former employers are hardly ever requested. The letter is short and in a direct, but formal style. In the letterhead you have to give the reference number of the vacancy (if it is a speculative application, mention this in the letterhead). You open the letter with a reference to the job you are applying for. In the second paragraph you mention your education and work experience relevant for this vacancy. You end the letter with a standard sentence, such as 'En espera de sus noticias, les Saluda atentamente' (Approximately, Waiting for your reply, meanwhile my sincere regards).

The Curriculum Vitae

There are no strict rules for CVs in Spain. Most important is a well-structured CV, not longer than two pages and with little spare space between the headings. Under the heading personal details you also have to give your passport or ID number. Regarding work experience it is important to mention all your former employers, including the tasks and responsibilities performed. If you have attended major seminars, stayed abroad some time, written a publication, or followed an apprenticeship, do mention it under the heading other activities, 'Otras actividades'. Application forms are widespread in Spain.

The Application Procedure

Usually a short introduction interview is held, which is followed by psychological and psychometric tests. After passing this initial selection phase, the recruitment procedure consists of a series of interviews. The interview carries a lot of weight, since human qualities are often judged more important than professional qualities in the assessment of the candidate. Be prepared for questions about your motivation, which is quoted to be the most sought-after quality by Spanish employers. Usually interviews are held on a face-to-face basis. However, group discussions can also figure in the recruitment process, depending on the level of responsibility of the job. The number of interviews varies, but it is not uncommon to have as many as six interviews or more.

Avoid raising the question of salaries in the first interviews. This should not be evoked until the company offers the job.

On-line applications are becoming more common, but do not expect all Spanish employers to use it and/or to favour it.

If we got you thinking about Spain – think about ordering the guide ''Looking for work in Spain''.

About the author

Looking for work in SpainNannette 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 (www.labourmobility.com).
She is co-author of a series of country-specific guides, the guide "Looking for work in Spain", (ISBN-13: 978-90-5896-055-9) 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: www.labourmobility.com.  As a reader of Eurograduate we offer you a 10% discount if you are your copy here.