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Finding a Job, CVs, Interviews and Etiquette for Expats in Spain

Submitted: August 2013

Finding a Job

The most common and convenient way to search for jobs in Spain is to use online job portals. These enable you to filter your search according to job function, industry, salary and location or search for keywords. Examples of prominent job search sites in Spain are:

A good resource for graduate job seekers is Primer Empleo.

Most daily newspapers also publish job advertisements in their print issues and online. Typically, the newspapers feature an extensive careers supplement in their Saturday edition. Some of the most widespread Spain daily newspapers include:  

Expats seeking a job in Spain should also consider turning to recruitment agencies to help them find employment. Recruitment agencies are a good choice as they can guide you through the entire application process. However, due to the large number of recruitment agencies in Spain, the greatest challenge is selecting a good one. You can search for authorised employment agencies at this site. Examples include Adecco, Agio or Randstad.

Last but not least, make sure to look directly on the websites of Spanish companies/organisations that interest you, or on websites of multinational companies with presence in Spain. These will often include a section called Employment or Vacancies, where their present job openings are announced.

For further assistance with your job hunt, contact your local branch of the Public Employment Service (Servicio Público de Empleo Esatatal, SEPE).


CVs

The job market in Spain is highly competitive, therefore you will need a convincing application to attract the attention of the employers. Employers will typically ask for your CV (curriculum vitae) or résumé, which must highlight your academic qualifications and professional experience.  Although there is no general CV template and different sectors have different preferences, there are some core characteristics that are common to all good CVs.

It is vital that your CV is concise. Unless otherwise specified in the job advertisement, a standard non-academic CV in Spain should be no longer than 2 pages. CVs in the academic sector can be longer since it is common to list all publications and conferences attended.

Your CV should also be well-structured. This is easily achieved by dividing the CV into various sections and using subheadings to denote these sections. Typical sections on Spanish CVs include: Personal Details, Education, Work Experience, Further Education and/or Extra-Curricular Activities, Language Skills, IT Skills and Interests. Note that it is not common to list references on your CV. You only provide these when asked by the employer.

Typically, Spanish CVs include a photograph in the top right-hand corner. Your personal details should be listed on the top left-hand side and should include your full name, address, telephone number, email, date of birth, place of birth and nationality. However, you should avoid mentioning your marital status or religion.  

Sections on education and work experience are generally arranged in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. When listing academic experience, make sure to include the dates attended, the name of the educational institution and study programme as well as the degree awarded (e.g. Master of Science). In terms of professional experience, you should list all your previous employments, indicating the start and end date, job title and name of the company/organisation you worked for. Optionally, you can also include one or two lines about primary responsibilities and achievements in your recent jobs.

Last but not least, your CV should be written in a positive tone, emphasising strengths and achievements throughout. At the same time, make sure that your Spanish spelling and grammar are correct and avoid using informal language.

For additional information see the fact sheet provided by SEPE and read the recommendations provided by Primer Empleo.

 

Cover Letters

Spanish employers will typically request a cover letter as part of your job application. Cover letters should be one A4-page long and drawn up as a formal business letter, including your signature. The purpose of a cover letter is to explain your motivation for applying for the position, how your skills and qualifications match the employer’s requirements and what you will bring to that particular role. When writing cover letters, pay attention to the requirements mentioned in the job advertisement and comment on how you fulfil these. Useful information on writing cover letters can be found in SEPE’s fact sheet.

 

Interviews

Job interview types in Spain vary from employer to employer. They differ in length, interviewing technique and the size of the panel. Usually they take place in person. However, in recent years telephone and Skype interviews have also become common, in particular if interviewees are located abroad at the time of interview.

Firstly, interviewers will give you the opportunity to introduce yourself, present your motivation and argue why you are a good candidate for the position. Secondly, employers will ask questions about your previous employment and test how your skills match their requirements. Finally, you will have the opportunity to ask the employers about your potential future role. For more information and sample interview questions see SEPE’s website on job interviews and the guidelines for job interviews published by Gabinete de Iniciativas para el Empleo.

Note that certain multinational companies and large Spanish companies also use assessment centres as their recruitment technique. Such assessment centres last a day or two and include a range of tasks, such as presentations, group activities and written tests, to test your suitability for the position.


Etiquette

When applying for jobs in Spain always use formal language and polite wording throughout the application process. Avoid using slang and colloquial expressions and explain all abbreviations you use. If Spanish is not your first language, it is a good idea to have your application proofread by a native speaker.

When attending a job interview in Spain, make sure to arrive on time or a few minutes early! Despite rumours that Spanish are not the most punctual, arriving late will leave a bad impression on your employer. Another important rule is to dress appropriately. Even if the company/organisation does not have a specific dress code it is still advisable to opt for business-wear in discreet colours and avoid using eye-catching jewellery or heavy make-up.

Throughout the interview make sure to sit straight and make appropriate eye-contact with the interviewers. Use a positive tone and avoid negative comments about your previous employers. Show that you are professional and do not forget that a smile can take you a long way!

 

 




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