How to Get a Job in Spain
Spain has long been a favourite amongst British expats looking to live and work in that famous sunshine climate. The country was hit hard by the global recession and unemployment figures are still relatively high at 17%. However, their economy has steadily improved to the point where it’s now one of the fastest-growing in Europe. And with vibrant cities, beautiful beaches and delicious food, this beautiful Mediterranean country will always be a popular work abroad option.
Finding work in Spain can be a competitive business, especially amongst young graduates. Skilled workers in certain industries fare better, while seasonal summer jobs and temporary contracts can also be easier to find. These can be an effective stepping stone into the Spanish job market if you’re prepared to take a drop in salary while you find your feet. It’s best to apply for jobs from your home country before arriving in Spain – and prepare to be flexible on your location to up your chances.
Jobs in Spain
Certain industries in Spain are in demand right now. Care work and geriatric nursing is consistently under-staffed and welcome international recruitment. The software and digital industries are thriving, along with tourism, the creative industries, insurance and banking, infrastructure and green energy. Teaching English is another popular choice among British workers. The European Job Mobility Portal is a great place to find out which industries are recruiting.
Working in Spain can bring a fantastic work-life balance, with a maximum 9-hour working day and long lunch breaks. The downside to those leisurely afternoon siestas is that you are likely to find yourself working later into the evening, with many Spanish employees working until 8pm. In return, you can expect a whopping 14 public holidays on top of your holiday allowance.
You’ll also find Spanish workplaces to be more relaxed, sociable and communicative than their British counterparts, although decision-making processes can be lengthy as you are expected to build up relationships before getting down to business.
Getting a work visa for Spain
As it currently stands, UK nationals have the right to live and work freely in Spain and the rest of the EU. This means it is not usually necessary to apply for a work visa or permit for Spain.
This may be set to change in the wake of the Brexit negotiations. It remains to be seen how leaving the EU will affect things for Brits who want to work in Spain. It is certainly a possibility that UK workers will no longer have the right to work freely in the EU and will instead have to apply for work visas. Relying on immigration law makes it more difficult to work, especially for low-skilled workers. Highly skilled workers in desirable industries to Spain are likely to find it easier – but the process would be slower and still ultimately carries the risk of being denied the right to work in Spain. We’ll just have to watch this space…
Anyone living or working in Spain for more than three months needs to apply for an NIE number (or Numero de Indentificacion de Extranjero). This is similar to the NI number in the UK and acts as an identity and tax number.
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With a thriving tourist industry, Spain can be a good bet for finding summer work, especially in busy coastal areas like the Costa del Sol and the Balearic Islands. Ibiza’s legendary club scene, for example, offers up lots of employment opportunities from club promotion to bar work. Water and adventure sports are also a good source of seasonal employment for those with the relevant qualifications. For year-round job opportunities in the tourism industry, the sunny Canary Islands are a great choice.
If you are job hunting in Spain and fancy teaching English as a foreign language, you could be in with a great chance of employment. Many schools run English language summer programmes for their students so summer English teaching is a popular choice among Brits holding TEFL qualifications.
The best cities for finding a job
Focusing your job search in the right area will maximise your chances of success.
Spain’s largest cities, such as Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Valencia, are where the majority of the country’s large multinational companies are based. Skilled workers and executives will have the best chances of securing employment here. Spanish companies are far less likely to have English-speaking jobs, so limit your search to large companies with a global presence.
The popular tourist towns of the coastal regions are the best place to concentrate your search if you are hoping to find seasonal work in Spain. Marbella, Benalmadena, Malaga, Benidorm, Tossa del Mar and Alicante are all great options, especially if your Spanish language skills are limited and you would like to work somewhere with lots of British tourists. The gorgeous beaches and lively expat communities are also a big draw! And don’t forget about Spain’s islands – the Balearics and the Canaries both have booming tourist industries.
Tips for job hunting
The job hunting procedure in Spain is similar to that in the UK. Think CV and cover letter or online application form. Keep them clear, concise and formal – and always write in Spanish if the job requires Spanish language skills. Speculative applications are also a common approach in Spain, especially when directed at small and medium-sized companies.
Recruitment can move slowly, so don’t be afraid to follow up your application with an email or phone call if you have heard nothing for a while. If you get to the interview stage, be positive, punctual and professional. And never mention the money in the interview, wait until you have been offered the job.
Most UK qualifications will be recognised by employers but certain professionals, such as doctors, may have to have their qualifications formally recognised before they can begin working in Spain. If you’re not sure whether you need to do this, check the European Commission's database..