how to find a job in Spain

Everything you need to know about working in Spain

If you’re planning on a move to Spain, the chances are you’ll need to find work of some kind. Here we take a look at how to find work in Spain as an expat and some of the differences you will notice when working in Spain…

Finding a job in Spain

Finding a job in Spain can be difficult as the unemployment rate is pretty high, in fact as of June 2020, Spain has the second highest unemployment rate in Europe (after Greece). That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to find work in Spain though, you might just need to consider a few different options.

It’s a really good idea to try and find a job before you relocate to Spain as it can take a while. Without a job you won’t be able to get residency in Spain unless you have a lot of savings.

If you don’t speak Spanish you will instantly be at a disadvantage when applying for jobs, and jobs in Spain for English speakers can be hard to find, so it’s a good idea to take the time to learn Spanish first. You can view our tips on learning Spanish here.

You will need an NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros) to apply for a job in Spain. This is your tax identification number and is easy to obtain – more details on getting your NIE here.

Jobs for expats in Spain

Jobs for expats in Spain can be hard to come by and are generally much lower paid than elsewhere in Europe. Competition for a job contract is high as this means entitlement to medical care, so employers can afford to be choosy. Often, jobs are given to locals who are close family members or relatives.

The first place to check is the Shortage Occupation List, produced quarterly by the Public Employment Service (Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal).

This list includes occupation that are “in short supply of workers, and for which the employers typically face difficulties finding a suitable candidate”. The 2020 list includes occupations such as ICT Specialists, Sales related professionals, and Doctors. You will still need to be able to speak Spanish for any of these jobs.

A foreigner is only hired in Spain if the occupation is listed on the shortage occupation list. The immigration office also has to confirm that it isn’t possible for the job vacancy to be filled by a Spanish citizen or resident.

Aside from this list, jobs for expats will include those in hospitality, tourism, and construction, but be aware that some of these will only be summer jobs. If you don’t speak Spanish it’s a good idea to head to a high expat area such as the Costa del Sol or Costa Blanca where there’s likely to be more English speaking jobs available.

How to apply for a job in Spain

When you are applying for a job in Spain, you may need to take or email your CV to prospective employers or recruitment agencies.

It’s worth following the Spanish style CV which may differ slightly to what you’re used to. Your Spanish CV should include the following information:

  • Your personal details (full name, date of birth, nationality, marital status, address, and contact number)
  • A photo (recommended)
  • Your work experience
  • Your education
  • Any languages you speak
  • Your skills
  • Anything else relevant to the position (driving license, hobbies, etc)
  • Relevant references

It’s always best to write your CV in Spanish to show that language won’t be a barrier and also in case the recruiter doesn’t speak English!

Becoming self-employed in Spain

If you struggle to find a job in Spain, don’t speak Spanish yet, or just want to use the move to Spain to start working for yourself, becoming self-employed (autónomo) can be a good idea.

To set up a business as a self-employed worker in Spain there will be a lot of paperwork, whether you are freelancing from home or setting up a business with premises. It’s advisable to employ a Gestor to help you get the process sorted as much of it will be in Spanish.

All activities will need to be registered with the tax agency (hacienda) and social security (seguridad social), and if opening business premises you will need a license from your local town hall (ayuntamiento).

If you are registered with social security as self-employed (autónomo) you will pay monthly contributions which entitle you to public healthcare, just like any other employee. This also covers your spouse and children, as long as you all live at the same address.

Being autónomo also allows you to receive a state pension in Spain. If you’ve made pension contributions in another EU country, these will also count towards your Spanish pension.

Social Security

Whether you’re employed or self-employed in Spain, you’ll be entitled to free healthcare and other benefits as long as you pay the monthly social security contributions.

With an employment contract your employer will contribute social security payments on your behalf. If you’re self-employed you’ll need to sort this yourself but once set-up will be paid by Direct Debit every month.

You’ll need to be registered at the social security and will be issued a número de afiliación de la seguridad social, which is your Spanish social security number.

Paying monthly social security contributions will give you access to a range of benefits including:

  • Healthcare
  • Temporary disability
  • Risk during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Maternity and paternity
  • Caring for children affected by serious illnesses
  • Permanent disability, and permanent non-disabling injuries
  • Retirement
  • Death
  • Family benefits (such as the care of a minor, adoption, large families, single parents, and mothers with disabilities)
  • Unemployment benefits (SPEE);
  • Benefit for the cessation of activity of self-employed workers
  • Social services
  • Mandatory insurance of old-age and invalidity
  • School insurance

Note: Before accepting a job make sure you will receive an official employment contract, without this you will not be eligible for healthcare or any of the other benefits.

Average annual salary

The average annual salary in Spain isn’t as high as elsewhere in Europe and you may be surprised when moving from the UK. The average salary in Spain is €23,000, and the minimum wage is around €1,100 per month.

The annual salary in Spain is divided into 14 months­ – 12 months in a year, plus 2 extra months corresponding to a Christmas bonus in December, and a vacation bonus in July.

Although the average salary in Spain is low, the cost of living is also a bit lower than the UK.

The Spanish workday

The average workday in Spain is quite different to that of the UK, and as well as earning less you’ll probably find yourself working longer hours.

While siestas don’t happen as much these days, temporarily shutting down for around three hours at midday is still quite common. Many businesses and services will be closed for 2-3 hours lunch break during this time, though in bigger cities this is less common.

Workdays in Spain are typically Monday to Friday, and the working hours established by the Spanish labor law are 40 hours per week. It’s common for workdays to start at 9am and end around 8pm, with a long lunch break. The lunch break typically lasts around three hours, starting at around 2pm and ending around 5pm. After the lunch break, you carry on with work and end your day at around 8pm.

Good luck in your Spanish job search, we hope some of this advice has given you a better idea of what working in Spain will be like and how to get started.

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