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Find a Real Job in Spain

A Successful Job Seeker Tells How

I wanted to return to Spain to live and work ever since I spent a school year in the south of the country. I considered staying on and finding a part-time job teaching English but decided I wanted a "real" job; one that paid enough without having to pinch pesetas.

I held onto this dream for many years traveling back to Spain on vacations and another short period of study in Madrid. But I couldn't find a job. The biggest hurdle is that most employers will only hire foreigners who have special skills that are difficult to find nationally.

My only special skill was that I was a native speaker of English. Eventually, this helped. While doing temp work in the U.S., I worked for a multinational telecommunications company with offices in Spain. After becoming a permanent employee, I moved out of the administrative position into a marketing analysis and public relations position. In the Spanish market the PR experience complemented my language skills. Most importantly, when I relaunched my job hunt I was older, had more work experience, and understood that it was okay to be persistent. I made a list of the big telecommunications companies in Madrid and started faxing resumes and calling. One month I would fax a resume and the next month I would call and talk to them in my rusty Spanish. After eight months my faxed resume hit the desk of the right person at the right time and I landed an 18-month contract for an internal communications job in a global division of the company.

Since I have been working in Spain I have discovered another way to get more mileage out of our special skill of being a native speaker of English; Look for Spanish companies that place their want ads in English. They only advertise in English if they need a fluent or near-fluent speaker. Job offers in English are frequently placed in El País, Spain's leading national newspaper.

When I began my job hunt there was not much readily available information on overseas jobs. I can pass on this information now because in the intervening years it has become much easier to look for and find a real job in Spain. Almost every company has published a website, there has been a marked evolution in job-search engines, and it is acceptable to email a resume.

Resumes for Spain

  • In Spain it is normal to include your photo on your resume.
  • It is typical to add your birth date. Whether you do it or not depends on how old you are and the job you are seeking. Age discrimination in hiring exists in Spain. If you are over 35 it might be better to include a very good photo but leave off your birth date unless you are applying for a job that requires a lot of experience or is a senior position. (I am 42 and do not include my birth date.)
  • Provide your email address and check it daily. If you don’t understand the language well, don’t include your phone number.
  • Include language skills (be honest, it won’t take long for them to figure it out anyway).
  • Include computer experience (very valuable in Spain).
  • Some companies may ask for proof of formal and continuing education. Be ready to respond if they ask for it. Request your school transcripts and ask your current HR department to certify any professional development that you have had with the company.

Job Search Engines and Websites for Spain

Festival Decorations in Titulcia, Spain
Festival Decorations in Titulcia