If you want to move to Spain but don’t currently have a job lined up for your arrival, the prospect of finding work can be daunting. With competition from Spanish locals and other European expats, you’ll need to make sure you stand out if you want the best-paid jobs. This article is aimed at advising the best work to look for, making sure you take advantage of a major asset…being a native English speaker.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for finding work as an expat is the huge competition from existing Spanish residents. The most recent unemployment data showed that joblessness in Spain is at a high 21.0%. When viewed in comparison with the UK’s current unemployment rate of 5.1% (according to the most recent figures) it’s easy to see that finding a job in Spain is not straightforward.
According to a recent report 80% of Spaniards under thirty still live with their parents, highlighting the growing impact persistent unemployment and low paid work is having upon the long-term prospects of Spanish locals. So does this mean it is best to forget about moving to Spain? Well, not exactly…
Given that Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world (actually outstripping English) fewer people speak English fluently as a second language in Spain than in other European nations. Around 22% of the Spanish population speak English at a level beyond making simple conversation. Whilst English is taught in Spanish schools it is not considered as important as other European countries deem. For example, France has 39% competent English speakers and Germany has 64%.
So speaking English fluently already puts you at a massive advantage against many native Spaniards, provided you seek a job that utilises spoken or written English. Depending on qualifications and experience, there is potential to earn a very high wage. A degree from an English university may also put you at a major advantage.
Whilst Spanish is spoken by a higher percentage of the global population than English, the international language of business is the latter. With that in mind, there are a number of high-paid jobs within the financial sector in Spain for native English speakers.
At present the most advertised job roles in Spain for English speakers are sales management roles. A recent listing for a sales manager in Malaga for a property investment company advertises a salary of £40,000 – £60,000 per annum with added bonuses available dependent on performance. That is a highly competitive wage, especially for Spain, with the level of joblessness above 20%.
Investment specialists, recruitment consultants, accountants and financial advisers are also highly sought after. A good example of demand for English business and financial professionals can be seen in a recent job listing from the deVere Group for a Sales Consultant in Barcelona, advertising a salary of £80,000 to £120,000.
Noting the massive Spanish unemployment rate and competitive nature of the jobs market, finding unskilled work in Spain can prove very difficult. However, taking advantage of your native language can still put you ahead if you look for the right employment. Finding bar work, for example, would likely be far easier in an airport or hotel than in the heart of Barcelona.
There is also high demand for English speakers in tourist hotspots. Work in a theme park or a museum, for example, often requires staff with a good variety of languages. The trick is to seek work that utilises your native tongue.
Whilst being a native English speaker can prove a major advantage, it will have little relevance if you cannot communicate at all in Spanish. You will most likely be working with Spanish colleagues and customers. Many jobs will require that you are able to communicate in Spanish as well as English. That is not to say that you will be expected to be fluent, but learning as much as possible before you arrive in the nation will be a significant advantage.
It is worth remembering, however, that even if you are fluent in Spanish the language varies considerably across the country, with there being several different dialects. With that in mind, research the area and the appropriate dialect. In the Costa Brava region (Barcelona), for example, they primarily speak Catalan.
As you are probably well aware, there will soon be a vote on the UK’s continued membership in the European Union. If the referendum concludes with a vote for the UK to leave the EU, it will have a massive impact on those seeking work in Europe.
At present, thanks to free movement among EU member states, you are not required to have a visa if you wish to work in Spain. In the event of a ‘Brexit’, however, you will be required to get a visa which could limit the time you have to seek work and could pile on added expenses in legal and processing fees.
Additionally, EU members are entitled to the same benefits as citizens, but a ‘Brexit’ could see a government exclude expats.
With all that in mind it would be highly advisable to wait until the conclusion of the June 23rd referendum before making life-altering plans.
There are a number of websites dedicated to English expats seeking work in Spain. It is worth remembering, however, that many unskilled jobs will not be advertised internationally so you may be required to already live in Spain to seek those jobs.
Here is a list of some of the more popular sites that are used frequently by Spanish employers:
Reed.co.uk have many jobs listed that can be sorted by category, salary and distance. At present the vast majority of Spanish jobs listed on Reed are in the IT and telecoms sector.
Thinkspain.com also lists several jobs and provides a handy graphic to show how necessary it is to speak Spanish. The website itself is perhaps not as easy to navigate as Reed, but does include jobs over a broader spectrum.
Thelocal.es is a useful website for those looking for specific roles or jobs within a specific locale.
The above websites are perhaps the most used by Spanish employers, but there are still a huge number of sites dedicated to English speaking jobs in Spain. Just typing that phrase in your preferred search engine is likely to provide you with several listings.
In conclusion, the most important thing to remember when seeking a job in Spain is that it will not be an easy task. Take advantage of your language skills and preferably have a good basic understanding of Spanish. Whilst it is naturally preferable to have a job set up before you move, there are several unskilled job roles only advertised locally. Be prepared for the fact that you might have to work longer days for less, and don’t be picky.
It would be advisable, where possible, to have a decent chunk of savings to support you whilst job seeking as the process can be lengthy. It would also be advisable, where possible, to wait for the conclusion of the June 23rd EU referendum vote as the outcome may have significant ramifications for British expats.
Now all that’s left to say is good luck, and happy job hunting!
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