Thursday, 2nd July 2020
LEGAL Article

This Month's Magazine
The job market

The job market

Job perspectives for foreigners in Spain

With unemployment at 8-9%, the job market in Spain is competitive and a typical job search for many Spanish people could easily take up to 6 months, making recruitment agencies here in Spain ever more appealing. In addition, it is customary for many companies to hire through connections, a matter of “whom” you know (enchufe).

EU citizens are not required to have work permits in order to hold a job in Spain. On the other hand, all non-EU nationals need both a work and a residency permit, which can be applied for at the same time. The type of permit required depends on the type of activity that is to be undertaken. For more details in respect of work permits, contact the Spanish embassy and, unless you really enjoy the challenge of legal paperwork, it is recommended that you have a legal advisor to assist you with the application procedures. The approval process itself takes anywhere from 2-6 months, so be ready for a long wait.

As a foreigner you could be at a potential disadvantage in some industries and with certain types of employers. If you do not have a working knowledge of Spanish, your employment possibilities are limited although, if you are looking for work in retail, restaurants/bars or teaching foreign languages (particularly English), things may be easier. Nevertheless, the good news for British expatriates is that in many areas, particularly the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca and Gibraltar there is a sufficient number of British business that will consider hiring staff ‘fresh’ from the UK with little or no Spanish.

Don’t assume it is going to be easy to find employment in Spain, the job market is becoming increasingly more competitive though highly skilled candidates in areas such as IT, accountancy, legal assistants and good sales personnel will find it easier to obtain work.

As always, an informative, well-formatted CV (curriculum vitae/résumé) is essential. Note however that the typical format of a Spanish CV may differ dramatically from that of your country. For instance, education tends to be emphasised first and this includes lists of additional work-related classes/seminars. CV cover letters in Spain are generally short, to the point and the written in a very formal language.
After sending out CVs to companies, don’t sit back and wait for them to call you. Spanish companies are notorious for not responding to letters. Be proactive and follow up with phone calls. If they promise to call back and fail to do so, do not be afraid to call again. It is important to be persistent. 


Average salaries range from €12,000-€18,000 per year. While a salary of €30,000-€35,000 a year is at subsistence level in cities like London, it would be considered a very high salary in Spain. If you come from Northern Europe or North America, be prepared for serious salary shock, but it is all relative.

Although salaries are normally spoken of as a monthly figure, the majority of companies pay their employees on a yearly 14-payment system, giving them an extra month (double pay) usually before summer and at Christmas.

Working hours and holidays
Traditionally working hours in Spain are Monday to Friday from 9:00-9:30 until 13:30-14:00. Then, after lunch and a siesta, people return to work from 16:30-17:00 until 19:30-20:00. Today, there is a tendency to shorten the lunch break and finishing earlier, all the same, working hours vary massively between organisations. In the summer, many organizations adopt a shorter work schedule called horario intensivo and work non-stop from 8:00-9:00 until 15:00.

When it comes to holidays and vacation time, Spain is excellent for employees. By law, all employees are entitled to a full month holiday each year (usually taken in August) along with numerous national and regional holidays. Should those holidays fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, employees are commonly allowed to take the Monday or the Friday off and make it into a long weekend called a puente.

Tradition of Illegal work in Spain
One of the problems affecting the Spanish labour market is that a proportion of workers are not registered for social security (Seguridad Social), this seems to be also the case in Italy and more recently in Germany and Austria, however surveys would suggest that this illegal employment phenomenon has decresed from 25% to 15% between 1980 & 1990 and that women in the domestic sector figure as the highest proportion. The Spanish government is now seriously investigating illegal working conditions, especially where immigrants are concerned. Convicted illegal employers can face very high fines and even business closure.

Once working in Spain you can enjoy a more relaxed way of life, sun, sand and sangria, but remember to do it in your own time. - Good Luck!

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