How to look for work in Barcelona


Barcelona's use as a major port, trading destination, and manufacturing hub has allowed it to prosper. However, a high unemployment rate, slumping economy, and the importance of speaking Spanish or Catalan limit the job pool. Banking and logistics sectors are prominent, with the government pushing growth in the fields of IT and technology.

Expats in the Job Market

The job market in Madrid is more favorable for foreigners, but there is work to be found in Barcelona. It is not easy, so prepare yourself with
- Savings,
- Language Skills, and
- Determination.

Expats that can speak both Spanish and English will find themselves with a large advantage. There are opportunities in international companies and tourism organizations.

Resume / CV

Resume versus CV

  • Resume- brief overview of work and educational experience. Prominent in the US when applying for employment. Typically one page.
  • CV (curriculum vitae)- more in-depth look at work and educational experience. Prominent in Europe and the Middle East. Typically two or more pages.


Spain usually uses a CV.. International companies stationed there may prefer a resume, but this should be specified in the ad. Prepare both a Spanish and English versions of your resume only if you are fluent in both languages.

    The CV should contain:
  • Contact Information: Relevant personal contact information at the top of the page including: name, phone number, fax number, address, email address, date and place of birth, gender, marital status and number of children. Resumes may be kept on file for long periods, so any contact details you give should remain accurate long-term. It is common for a professional photo to be included.
  • Professional Experience: Usually this information is listed chronologically. List your work experience with: your title, the name of the company you worked for, the dates of your employment, and a brief description of your achievements in that position. Any gaps in work history should be explained.
  • Education: This section should come before work experience if you are in school or have been out of school for one to three years, depending on your level of work experience and how relevant your education is to your career. Big name universities can catch a recruiters attention.
  • Certificates & Diplomas: Courses, seminars, congresses or conferences that are relevant. Note if you received any special honors.
  • Languages: This is extremely relevant to an international job. The major language in Barcelona is Spanish, but the business language for multinational employers tends to be English. List which languages you speak and your level: advanced, intermediate or beginner. Point out if you can translate, speak, or write in each language and list any associated degrees. If you are submitting your resume in a language other than your native tongue, be sure to have a native speaker read it first.
  • Computer Skills: Programs, applications, word processing, database, Internet experience, etc.
  • Interests: You may include personal interests such as hobbies, sports, activities.


  • CVs should be straightforward and serious. Flashy style is not respected.
  • Use standard paper and a simple font, such as Times New Roman (12 font) or Arial (10) font
  • Print original copies on high quality paper - don't send photocopies.
  • Be neat. Take care with the presentation, design, spaces, and spelling of your resume. Punctuation and grammar are extremely important. Don't use abbreviations.
  • Make sure your CV is as organized as possible, so the information can be found easily.
  • You do not need to date or sign your resume.
  • Have a base CV that you can adjust to each job you are applying for.

Cover Letter

A cover letter usually accompanies a CV in a job application. In the format of a letter, it establishes your tone and intent.

  • Header - Standard business letter style, with the sender's address and other information, the recipient's contact information, and the date sent after either the sender's or the recipient's address. The final part of the header is a salutation (e.g., "Dear Hiring Managers").
  • Introduction - The introduction briefly states the specific position desired, and should be designed to catch the employer's immediate interest. You may address the letter to "Estimado Sr./Sra" or "Muy Señor/a Mío/a", although it is better to send the letter directly to the person in charge of recruiting.
  • Body - Highlights material in the resume or job application, and explains why the job seeker is interested in the job and would be of value to the employer. Also, matters discussed typically include skills, qualifications, and past experience. If there are any special things to note such as availability date, they may be included as well.
  • Closing - Sums up the letter and indicates the next step the applicant expects to take. It may indicate that the applicant intends to contact the employer, although many favor the more indirect approach of simply saying that the applicant will look forward to hearing from or speaking with the employer. You may sign off with a formal expressions such as: "En espera de sus noticias, le saluda atentamente". Optionally, the abbreviation "ENCL" may be used to indicate that there are enclosures.


For some basic templates for CVs and cover letters, try Career Lab, Great CV's, or the Career Resource Center.

Job Search

    A checklist of what you need to start your career:
  • Write a curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Research potential employers
  • Find job opportunities
  • Write cover letters
  • Complete job applications
  • Interview
  • Follow-Up
  • Get hired!

After you have completed your CV, it is time to search for jobs.

Search Engines

Online recruitment websites allow for customized job-searches and alerts of new positions. You can also submit a CV for hiring managers.

Job seekers can also apply directly on company's websites. Companies advertise their vacancies under "recursos humanos" (human resources), "empleo" (employment) or under "Trabaja para nosotros" ("Work for us").

Spanish Public State Employment Service

The Spanish Public State Employment Service (Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal or SPEE)is an employment service with a nationwide network of employment offices.

    To register you must be:
  • Over 16
  • Hold an identity document or passport
  • Permanent address


Friends, relatives and acquaintances are great resources for getting leads on positions. Many hires are made through connections (enchufe), so ask around and put out the word that you are looking.


As part of the EU, job seekers can access the European job mobility portal EURES. This resource provides information about job vacancies and the labor market. It also provides information on the living and working conditions, and a CV posting service.


Newspapers post job offers in their job finder section "Aquí hay trabajo". Most are posted on daily newspapers (Wednesdays & weekends) and specialized trade magazines and journals. Job-seekers can also post a wanted ad for a fee.

Career Fairs

Career fairs offer a great view of the Spanish job market and positions available. There are usually a range of employers, often featuring a specific industry. Applicants should come prepared with a CV, business cards, and qualifications. At some fairs, applicants send their CV in advance. Careers Fair search engine can help you find an event in your area.

Teaching English

English-speaking expats are in high demand for teaching English. Language schools usually require applicants to have TEFL course certificates and a college degree. You must have adequate visa clearance and registration. Most schools will supply you the intent to employ so you can secure a visa.


The easiest way to get started teaching English is to find a school. The best situations are companies that pay adequately and aid in getting visa paperwork completed. These positions may be difficult to come by and there is fierce competition for the largest.

Applicants usually submit their resume and application, and if the school approves, the applicant will be asked for an interview. The interview may consist of a sample lesson or a grammar test. Some schools will throw teachers right in for a 90 minute class where the school observes and either offers the job, or does not.

Positions are much more readily available in private language schools. Salaries are lower than in the state run schools and contracts may not benefit the teacher so read carefully. Many schools run summer courses and camps.

It is common for new teachers to only receive a few classes at first. If they are able to prove themselves reliable and are able to handle a class, they will gradually be given more classes. Some teachers work at two schools or also give private lessons.

Teaching in the state sector is the most lucrative strain of teaching. These jobs are hard to come by without experience and the best qualifications. These positions offer the paid holidays, excellent salary, and a good pension.

Private Classes

It is also an option to work for yourself by giving private lessons. These are usually more profitable per hour, but require a lot more work finding customers. The best way to get private students is to post advertisements in business newspapers, on bulletin boards, or offer your resume on expat site's like Easy Expat's job listings. Having basic native language skills will help expand your clientele as you can then work with beginners.


Wages are generally low as is the cost of living. Hourly rates range from 12 to 30 euros per hour. An hourly wage of 20 euros per hour would be considered as more than adequate. The best wages and benefits are for teachers that secure positions with companies, but language schools are the easiest place to become employed.

Teaching English Certificates

TESOL (also known as TEFL) is the acronym for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. A TESOL certificate is the most common qualification required to teach English abroad. There are a wide variety of TESOL courses available, ranging from 4-week intensive, classroom based TESOL courses with TEFL International, to TESOL courses studied online. It is even possible to combine a period of online study with a shorter classroom based course. In addition to standard TESOL certificate courses there are also more specialized courses such as courses for teaching business English, or teaching English to young learners. There is also the more advanced TESOL diploma course.


Interviews are a chance for a company to get to know you before hiring you. Research the company before the interview to discover their missions and direction. Practice a basic "speech" about who you are and what you do. Try to use the same keywords you used in your CV.

  • Dress neatly and conservatively.
  • Be on time.
  • Bring your CV, business card, and copies of the certificates.
  • There is great respect for age and professional titles, so address all present by title and surname.
  • Ask questions. Demonstrate your knowledge and interest.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time. You can also send a follow-up thank you card.

Temporary Agencies

If you are in need of short term work of any kind, there are agencies that will find you employment with another company. As an added bonus, sometimes short term work can lead to longer contract.

Work Visas & Permits

A work visa is necessary for non-EU citizens intending to work in Spain. This is regardless of whether an employment contract has been concluded by a Spanish or foreign company or whether the work is paid or unpaid. Activities of temporary and interim employment agencies also require a work permit.

For complete info, consult the "Passport, Visa & Permits" section.

Update 19/06/2012


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