The Complete Guide to Finding a Job in Spain

Unless you’re retired or of independent means, it’s likely that you’ll need to work when you’re living in Spain. However, as you’re no doubt already aware, individuals from outside of the EU (including Britons) will need a work permit to work in Spain.

From how you manage to secure this permit, to what kind of work is available in Spain right now.

Here’s everything you need to know about working in Spain:

A Current Picture of the Spanish Job Market

As a result of the coronavirus crisis, the job market in Spain is no longer as buoyant as it once was. The unemployment rate is Spain is currently one of the highest in Europe, and is officially the highest in the EU. Official figures show that 14.5% of the Spanish population were unemployed in May 2020: for comparison the average unemployment figure across all EU countries is 6.7%. Youth unemployment is a particular issue in Spain, and worthy of note. The youth unemployment levels in Spain are by far the highest in the EU, standing at 40.8%, and the Spanish government is working hard to implement national schemes in a bid to mitigate this problem.

Don’t be disheartened by these high unemployment figures though: that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible to find a job in Spain! There are several sectors where jobs are available, and qualified applicants are highly sought after. These sectors include IT, automotive, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food and beverages, and tourism. If you have experience or qualifications in any of these industries then you will find it much easier to find a job than if your area of expertise is in any other arena.

The Legal Requirements for Working in Spain

If you are an EU citizen or from a European Free Trade Association country then you are free to come to Spain and work freely, with no restrictions; you won’t need to apply for a work permit or residency visa. If you are from outside the EU, however, working in Spain is a little more complicated. You will need a residency visa that allows you to work during your time in Spain, and a valid Spanish work permit.

Any professional qualifications that you have, and that you would like to use during your time in Spain, should be recognised by the Spanish Ministry of Education: check the European Commission's database to ensure that your qualifications are transferable and that you will be able to use them in Spain. If you’re coming into Spain from the EU then for most qualifications this is unlikely to be a problem because Spain subscribes to the Bologna Process , a scheme that links the European Higher Education Area, and means that higher education qualifications from other member countries are valid to be used in Spain as well. Before you move to Spain, it is also worth having any references (as well as your CV) translated into Spanish so that you have these to hand whenever you are asked for them.

It’s also important to ensure that you have all of the right legal paperwork in place. You will need a Spanish NIE number to work in Spain: you can apply for one of these either by visiting your local police station or your local Spanish embassy. Your NIE number is your tax number, and you will need this to pay your taxes, and carry out any other official or legal activities in the country. With your NIE number you are then able to secure a Spanish social security number; you can’t work, or pay your taxes and social security contributions in the country, without these. It is essential that you secure both your NIE number and your Spanish social security number before you can begin legally working in Spain.

Finding a Job in Spain

If you’re looking for a job in Spain then the first place you should check is the EURES job mobility portal, which will let you know which Spanish region has the most vacancies, and which industries these current vacancies are in. Whilst you can also find work via job adverts and conventional job agencies, you should also be prepared to search for work via unconventional means whilst you’re living in Spain. Don’t be afraid to network, because many people in the country find work via word-of-mouth, talking to people who walk in businesses that you’re keen to join, and networking as much as possible.

When you begin your job search, some of the best places to start looking for your new role include:

  • Expatica jobs, a job website which specialises in listing roles suitable for ex-pats.
  • The Public State Employment Service (Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal) or SEPE is a government-owned website that offers job listings, as well as advice and information about searching for a new job.
  • If you’re looking to work as an Au Pair in Spain then Au Pair International is a great website to try
  • TEFL Iberia is a great place to look for a teaching job in Spain
  • Other popular Spanish job websites for English speakers include:
  • The Guardian
  • The Local
  • ThinkSpain

Speaking English

As a general rule, if you want to work in Spain then you will need to speak Spanish. There are, however, some exceptions to this if you’re not a fluent Spanish speaker. Teaching English is an incredibly popular role for ex pats in Spain, and you can engage in this role without being able to speak Spanish. You could also secure seasonal work in the tourism industry without any Spanish language skills, although even some basic Spanish skills would make you a more attractive prospect in these kinds of roles. If you are looking for work without any Spanish language skills then you might find more roles are available in regions with a large existing expat population.

How to Apply for a Job in Spain

There are many different ways to apply for a job in Spain, and this will depend on the kind of role you’re looking for. If you’re aged between 17 and 30, and hope to gain work experience by volunteering in Spain then the European Voluntary Service (EVS), website is a great place to start. This is a scheme that will enable you to work in Spain for up to 12 months: in exchange you will be offered food, board, insurance and a small allowance. It’s a great way for young people to gain experience of working overseas before you apply for full time work in Spain.

For a conventional job, the best way to apply would be to:

  • prepare an application, either by completing an application form or by sending a personalised C.V and cover letter. The content of both methods would be very similar.
  • Send your application in Spanish, unless the job advert specifically asks for an English application
  • Dress smartly for your interview and arrive prepared. Research the company, be ready to talk about your C.V and your work experience. Expect the interview to last between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
  • Some job interviews in Spain may also require you to take a written test or skill-based task. Ask about this in advance so that you’re prepared on the day.

Starting Your New Spanish Job

Once you’ve started your new job in Spain, in most cases your employer will ensure that you are enrolled for Spanish health insurance and also that your social security registration is in place. If your employer doesn’t do this on your behalf then it is vital that you do this yourself, so that you are covered for any healthcare needs that may arise, as well as ensuring that you are contributing to your Spanish state pension. Don’t be afraid to ask about any other benefits your employer may offer. Depending on the size of your employer, these may include a private company pension, investment opportunities, enhanced holiday leave and even travel insurance.

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