How to find a job in Panama

Find a job in Panama
Updated 2020-05-05 11:46

The most important thing about finding a job in Panama is to do it before you move there – and it may be a challenge. Like most countries, Panama is keen to address unemployment amongst its population, so, while your expertise may be beneficial, employers may want to first try and fill an available position with a Panamanian citizen with the relevent skills.

The Panamanian economy

There is a pretty broad spectrum of industries in Panama, including multinational companies whose names everyone knows, allowing expats to find employment in a familiar working culture. There is mining in Panama, providing opportunities for manual workers as well as administrative staff and executives. Many economies in Central and South America have struggled in recent years, so Panama has significant Venezuelan and Colombian populations, for instance, who often work in the country in order to send money to their families in their home countries.

In contrast to the traditional, labour-intensive industries is the International Technopark (also known as the City of Knowledge), not far from the canal. Once a US military base but looking, as you pass it, very much like a university, this is now a thriving testament to the country's investment in the future.

The labour market

In certain sectors the restrictions for expats are very strict. Take healthcare, for instance, where positions of doctors and nurses can only be filled by Panamanian citizens. Other sectors are less extreme, though, and it is worth doing an online search and then contacting the companies where vacancies exist. They will tell you if a work permit is likely to be forthcoming and will either handle it themselves or refer you to a lawyer. In any case, make sure to update your CV according to local standards. Consider getting a free CV review at TopCV.

Job-hunting in Panama

In addition to doing finding jobs online, an exploratory visit can answer a lot of questions. Take a couple of weeks on a tourist visa, read the classifieds in the Panamanian newspapers etc, make some calls and get in to talk to people. However, it is important to note you cannot legally work while in the country on a tourist visa.

Remember that while English may be the international language of business, the language in Panama is Spanish, so get your resume, covering letter etc. translated. It is also useful to learn some basic Spanish, if you are not already a Spanish-speaker.

Starting a business

It may be easier to set up your own business, so if you have entrepreneurial skills and a bit of capital, find yourself a Panamanian lawyer and get the process started. Word of mouth is important too in this respect, so if you can find someone who has gone down this route in a similar field already, try to get to know them and pick their brains.

Useful links:

Linked In
Professional Directory - Panama

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