Find a Job in Bogotá


How to look for work in Bogotá


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Colombian Job Market

As one of the countries with the highest unemployment in the region, Colombia doesn't have a particularly promising and dynamic job market. Things look clearly better in Bogota and other larger cities, where most industries and services are concentrated.

Foreigners with specific business skills, international experience and a solid knowledge of Spanish may find that a wide array of jobs are unable to be satisfied by internal workforce, and that despite the relative lack of jobs some companies are open to hiring expats.

Native speakers of English and other languages may also find work in teaching and education, as the country is striving to become bilingual in the near future.

However, many expats complain that the salaries tend to be low, and that work conditions are not optimal, as employees have to comply with the 48-hour long legal working week. Additionally, events such as the heavy immigration caused by the humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Venezuela have put an additional strain on the already feeble Colombian job market.

CVs in Colombia

Colombian employers prefer long, detailed CV's called Hoja de vida. These are slightly different from the international format and drafting a Colombian Hoja de Vida may feel unusual, as categories not included in other parts of the world, such as character recommendations from a close relative or personal and even confidential data are required.

However, many companies also accept US-style resumes, generally one-page documents that briefly showcase the candidate's education and experience.

For more information about the difference between a CV and a resume, see the EasyExpat article "CV vs Resume".

Layout of CVs for Colombia

A Colombian CV contains:

  • Personal and Contact Information: Details are included at the top of the first page, consisting of: name, date of birth, age, physical address, ID number, phone number, e-mail address. Some of this information is not mandatory, but it is customary to be included. If you feel reluctant to include your date of birth, age or ID, you are free to skip these categories.
  • A passport-sized photograph
  • Personal Statement:This is a short paragraph below the contact details, that summarizes your qualifications and gives the employer an insight into your career objectives.
  • Education:Educational background is presented before professional experience, even for mid-career professionals. As in the case of professional experience, this is usually presented in chronological order (i.e. from oldest to newest).
  • Professional Experience: This information is listed chronologically, with the oldest work experience shown first. List your work experience with: your title, company name, employment date and key responsibilities and achievements. 
  • Certificates & Diplomas: Any relevant certificates, diplomas, professional memberships, courses, seminars, published articles or conferences should be added in this section.
  • Languages:Ideally, a good knowledge of Spanish is required if you want to secure a good job in Bogota. List all additional languages that you may speak, and your level and any diplomas, as these may be among the best assets that differentiate you from local candidates. If you are submitting your Hoja de Vida in Spanish and it is not your native language, have it verified by a native speaker first.
  • Computer Skills: Programs, applications, database, social media experience, etc. Depending on the position you are applying for. 
  • Interests: This is the section to add hobbies, free time activities, sports, or any other skills that you may have that can be relevant, even though not directly related to, the position you are applying for.
  • References: Colombians generally provide both personal and professional references. Don't be surprised if you are requested contact details of your close family members or friends for recommendations.

Tips

  • Use a simple, straightforward style. Standard paper and a simple font such as Times New Roman (12 font) or Arial (10) font should be used.
  • The document should have a clear, organized layout, where information can be found easily.
  • Print the copies on high-quality paper, and send original print-outs, not photocopies.
  • Be careful with spelling, grammar, design, spaces and general presentation of the Hoja de Vida. Emphasize sections and underline or highlight key information.
  • Chronological order is generally preferred, but you can also present information in a reverse chronological order if you deem it more relevant.
  • You are free to be creative and modify the general template, but try to respect as much as possible the local standards.
  • You do not need to date or sign an Hoja de Vida.
  • Have a base CV, and modify it for the requirements of the particular positions you will be applying for.

Cover Letter

CV's should be accompanied by a motivation letter, in which you should convincingly present your background, intention and qualifications for the job.
A cover letter will include:

  • Header – This should include the contact information of the sender and the recipient, the date of the letter and the salutation.
  • Introduction – This should establish clearly the intent of the letter (e.g. which is the position applied for) and briefly present the sender. The introduction should be a carefully crafted sentence that will quickly catch the hiring manager's interest.
  • Body – The body should include the motivation of the person applying, and what are the qualities that recommend the applicant for the particular job. It should also briefly describe past experience and any other information that can not be included in the CV. 
  • Closing – Summarizes the body of the letter and expresses the desire to meet the employer for an interview. The closing should be followed by the valediction and the applicant's signature.

If you are applying for the position through e-mail, you can send the cover letter either in the body of the e-mail or as an attachment. Check if the company has any preferences on this matter.

Job Search in Colombia

Job searching in Colombia is a lengthy process, so you should arm yourself with patience. Public listings on the internet or offline are a great resource, but remember that there are many openings that are never listed and are filled in on the basis of personal contacts. Networking is crucial if you want to find out about these, so make as many local friends as possible.

Search Engines

Search engines work both as a way to find out about current vacancies and as a way to be found. Be sure to post your CV online, so that you can be found by recruiters. You can also sign up for e-mail alerts so you are instantly notified when new positions are available.
Some of the most important job search engines in Colombia are:

Make sure to also check EasyExpat's Job Offers and Job Search/CV facility.

Forums

You can use online tools such as EasyExpat's Colombia forum to develop your network of local contacts and find out about job openings.

Newspaper

Not many newspapers have classifieds sections, and they are generally online.
El Tiempo Clasificados is a great source of public listings.
Bogota is also home to two English-Language newspapers, The Bogota Post and The City Paper Bogota, that occasionally publish classifieds with job openings for foreigners.

Recruitment Agencies

Recruitment agencies can also help you land a job while in Bogota, as they have access to many openings that are not published by the employers. Some specialize in particular fields, but most are generalist.
There are also "Head hunting" agencies that recruit experienced staff for senior-level positions. Many are local branches of international recruitment firms. 
Some agencies that you can contact in Bogota are:

Career Fairs

Career fairs can enable you to have a first contact with the potential employers and get a feel of the companies and the available positions. When visiting a career fair, it is good to bring along several copies of your CV and dress smart, so that you can apply directly to the jobs that sparkled your interest.
However, such events are rather new in Bogota, with the first official career fair organized by the Bogota Employment Agency in april 2018.

Networking

Networking is the best advice that you can get while looking for a job. Let your friends, acquaintances, other expats, local contacts and family know that you are searching for a position. Attend expat events in your area.

Use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedln or expat forums.

Teaching English in Colombia

Teaching English is one of the most popular way to earn your living as a foreigner in Bogota. Many language schools are actively looking for native speakers, or candidates that have an advance level of English. A university degree (not necessarily in English language) is required, and an English Teaching Certification is an asset.

Schools

You can get a position in a private primary or secondary school, in a language school, or – if you have a teaching degree in your home country and you validate it in Colombia – in a public educational institution.
Schools will also help you with the company sponsorship of your work visa.
On the downside, the pay is very low as there are a lot of foreigners seeking to teach English in the city and the competition is fierce, and many teachers are requested to comply with the Colombian norm of 48 teaching hours per week.
The best conditions are offered by private high schools, but a teaching degree is usually required to access such positions.
Applicants will submit their CV and an interview will follow. A common requirement is to pass a grammar test and to provide a sample lesson plan. Trial observed lessons may also be part of the selection process.

Private Classes

Giving private classes can help supplement your income, as the hourly pay is usually higher if there are no intermediaries between you and your student. The challenge is to develop your student base, which is generally done on the basis of recommendations. You can advertise your services on classifieds websites, online forums or by word-of-mouth.

Keep in mind that giving only private classes can not only be a risky and unstable way of supporting yourself, but also illegal. Private classes alone will not help you secure a work visa in Colombia.

Teaching Certificates

Having a prestigious TESOL (or TEFL) certificate can open many doors. There is no single certificate that is recommended, but ones that require at least 120 hours of coursework and practical teaching experience are preferred.

There are a variety of TESOL courses available, either classroom-based or online. Some are 4-week intensive classroom courses, while others last longer and are purely online. A specialized course such as for Business English or teaching English to Young Learners is a plus.

Interview

During an interview, candidate and employer can personally meet each other and establish whether the position corresponds to the applicant's motivation and skills.

You should research the company thoroughly before going to an interview, and have a range of questions prepared. You should also spend a reasonable amount of time preparing, as interviews are your most important opportunity to get noticed and advance your case.

It is common to have a series of interviews, with different persons from the company and focusing on different matters. During an interview, you should:

  • Dress well. Colombians place a lot of emphasis on physical appearance. 
  • Arrive a few minutes ahead of time.
  • Bring copies of your CV and other important documents along. 
  • Ask questions. Demonstrate your knowledge and interest.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time.

Temporary Agencies

Temporary agencies can help you find employment for short-term work of any type, depending on your skill set and your availability. There are no agencies specialized in temporary work in Colombia, you can direct your queries to the recruitment agencies above.

Work Visas & Permits

A work visa is mandatory for all paid employment in Colombia. Work visas cannot be obtained without a valid employment contract.

Refer to "Passport & Visa" section of the guide for full details.


Update 20/08/2018


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