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Job hunting in Italy

Once a booming economy, Italy was hit hard by the financial crisis in 2008 and unemployment has reached 13%. So competition for jobs is high, especially in the South of the country, where the agriculture-based economy has suffered the most.

The Italian job market has traditionally relied on heavy industry such as chemicals, food processing, iron and steel, textiles, cars, ceramics and fashion. However, since the economic crash Italy is moving towards a more service-based economy with the tourism, media, financial and retail sectors all flourishing.

The job market for expats

Unless you are transferring to Italy through a company in your own country, the job sectors traditionally open to expats are:

Tourism: Italy’s stunning architecture and scenery attracts over 50 million tourists each year so there are plenty of opportunities for seasonal restaurant, hotel and bar work.

You will have more chance finding service-based work in Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan and in the ski resorts of the Alps and Dolomites. A little knowledge of Italian helps when applying for seasonal work. Find jobs at: seasonworkers.com.

Teaching English (TEFL)/Education: English native speakers with a TEFL qualification are in high demand in language schools all over Italy. Many schools provide or help with accommodation and you don’t need to speak Italian to land a job. TEFL wages can be very low so factor this into your budget. Check out www.tefl.org.uk for more information, it’s a UK-based site but anyone can apply.

Teachers and lecturers with formal postgraduate teaching qualifications can apply for jobs in state schools and universities. Being able to speak Italian fluently is a must.

Engineering/Pharmaceuticals: Italy has a broad engineering sector specialising in heavy machinery and of course, cars. Top brands include Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Piaggio. Jobs for qualified engineers are usually based in and around Milan and Turin. Specialist recruitment site www.euroengineerjobs.com has more information on the topic.

Italy is the 6th largest provider of pharmaceutical products in the world with companies such as Sigma-Tau and Bracca at the forefront of production. Suitably qualified pharmacists and chemists can find work easily in this sector.

A high level of fluency in Italian is a must when applying for engineering or pharmaceutical positions.

Au Pair/Nanny: Becoming an au pair is a good way to move to Italy on a budget, as accommodation and food are usually provided free of charge. Wages are in the form of ‘pocket money’ and range from €200-€500 a month. English-speaking au pairs are in the highest demand. Specialist site www.thebestaupair.com matches families with au pairs around the world.

Finding a job in Italy

Italians like to hire based on personal impression and a ‘who-you-know’ culture prevails. So finding a job through friends or family is the best way to get a job. If you don’t know anyone in Italy there are other ways of finding work, such as:

Networking

The best way to bag an interview is to network while in the country. Italians are sociable people and prefer to assess your suitability face-to-face. Here’s how:

  • Compile a list of Italian businesses in your field and send an open application letter.
  • Network with expats already living in the country on forums such as www.internations.org, they may know of an opportunity that hasn’t been advertised.
  • Contact Italian employers and business groups on sites such as LinkedIn and request a meeting.
  • Contact your local Italian Chamber of Commerce in your home country or in Italy. Visit www.iccwbo.org for more information.

Recruitment sites

If you are unable to be in Italy while job-seeking, check out these top recruitment sites (as well as the ones above):

Newspapers

All national and local newspapers in Italy have job sections and most are now online. The Italian local info site www.ciao-italy.com has addresses for all newspapers with websites, but two of the best for finding work are:

  • www.thelocal.it/jobs/ - Italy’s online English language newspaper.
  • http://lavoro.corriere.it – The job search section of Corriere della Sera – one of Italy’s largest newspapers.
  • Will my qualifications be recognised?

    Applying for a job in Italy generally involves sending a current CV and cover letter. Most European university degrees are accepted by Italian employers but those from outside the EU should check with the employer which qualifications are recognised before applying.

    Expats applying in the fields of law, medicine and engineering can check with the Italian Embassy in their home country to see which of their qualifications are recognised, as further training and/or conversion exams may be necessary.

    Visas for work

    According to European Union law, EU citizens have the right to move to another EU country without a work permit and have equal employment rights with nationals. EU citizens can move to Italy without secured employment but must register their presence after three months in the country.

    Non-EU citizens must apply for a visa to enter Italy and require a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) to live and work in Italy. You can find more information about visas and permits here.

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    Hours of work and holidays

    Before you start, you will want to know how and when you will work. Hours are subject to individual agreements with employers but the normal working day is from 8am to 7pm, sometimes with a traditional long lunch hour (2-3 hours). The legal amount of working hours is 48 per week and most employers grant four weeks holiday a year, although this varies according to the type of job.

    Some tips for job seekers

    1. Translate your CV and qualifications into Italian: It’s worth paying for this if you aren’t fluent.

    2. Be Bold: Italian employers appreciate initiative and will be impressed if you approach them face-to-face.

    3. Learn to speak Italian: Apart from TEFL and casual work most jobs in Italy will require you to speak Italian. Take a recognised course before moving to Italy.

    4. Look good: Italians take outward appearance very seriously. You may be overlooked if you have even a hair out of place at the interview.

    5. Show knowledge of Italian culture: Impress potential employers by researching their regional dialect and customs. Show that you can blend with Italians in the workplace.

    Average yearly net salary by profession:

    Accountant €38,031
    Architect €25,000 - €60,000
    Engineer €33,000 - €55,000
    IT Professional / Web Designer €30,100
    Doctor €55,000 - €85,000
    Dentist €45,000 - €75,000
    Nurse / Midwife €22,000
    Pharmacist €65,000
    Teacher – Public School €57,000
    Teacher – TEFL €8,000 - €12,000
    Solicitor / Lawyer €70,000
    Journalist / Media / PR €18,000
    Hotel / Bar / Restaurant Staff €11,000 - €16,000
    Childcare €15,000