Finding a job and working in Spain

employees in Spain
Updated 2023-07-23 11:54

Moving to a foreign country as an expat can be both exhilarating and daunting, particularly when it comes to finding employment. Spain, with its vibrant culture, stunning scenery and sunny climate, is a popular destination for expats worldwide. However, navigating the job market in this diverse country may seem challenging at first. Fear not, as we have compiled a list of essential tips and advice to help you find a job in Spain. Whether you are a recent graduate, a seasoned professional or considering a career change, these insights will help to prepare you for the Spanish job market.

Average salaries in Spain

The average salary in Spain varies depending on various factors such as education, occupation and experience. According to the INE (Instituto Nacional de Estadística), the annual average salary is around 25,896.82 Euros. The average salary for men is 28,388.69 Euros for men, while for women, it's 23,175.95 Euros. However, these figures can differ significantly between regions and cities, with higher salaries typically found in major urban areas like Madrid and Barcelona.

When comparing the average salary in Spain with other European countries, it is important to consider the cost of living as well. While Spain's average salary may seem relatively low compared to countries like Germany or the United Kingdom, the cost of living in Spain is generally more affordable. Therefore, there is a comparable standard of living. For example, housing and basic expenses are often cheaper in Spain compared to many other European countries.

Spain´s labor market

By the summer of 2023, Spain achieved a remarkable milestone with the highest number of registered employed individuals in its history. This significant improvement in the Spanish labor market came as a much-needed recovery from the devastating blows caused by the 2008 global financial crisis and the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the most prominent job sectors in Spain is the tourism industry. Spain is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year. This sector plays a vital role in the Spanish economy, contributing significantly to GDP and creating numerous job opportunities in hospitality, travel agencies and cultural tourism.

Another prominent area is the automotive industry. Spain is one of the largest car manufacturers in Europe, with major international companies having production plants in the country. The technology sector is also emerging as a prominent player with a growing number of startups and the increasing adoption of digital technologies.

Regarding the most sought-after jobs in Spain, there is a high demand for skilled professionals in healthcare. As the population ages, there is a need for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to provide quality medical care.

Furthermore, the construction sector has seen increased demand for professionals due to the resurgence of the Spanish real estate market and infrastructure development projects.

Job hunting in Spain

If you're an expat looking for work in Spain, there are lots of ways you can seek a position. 

The Internet will likely be your first port of call and a constant companion. There is a good selection of online job portals (such as Infojobs, LinkedIn, Monster and Talent Search People) and online newspapers with their classified ads sections. Among the notable national newspapers to check out are El Pais and El Mundo.

Networking is also a great way to find a job in Spain. Tell friends and acquaintances about your situation and attend professional meetups. Many jobs aren't advertised at all and are filled through word of mouth and connections.

Consider registering with job agencies and recruiters specializing in placing expats in Spain. They often have extensive knowledge of the local job market and can help match your skills with suitable employment opportunities.

Many international companies have a presence in Spain, offering job prospects for expats. Research companies in your industry with branches or offices in Spain and proactively apply for suitable positions.

Consider gaining local work experience through internships or volunteering opportunities. This can help you establish connections, learn about the work culture, and potentially lead to permanent job offers.

Don't underestimate the value of cold calling. Send unsolicited applications to companies and follow up a few days later with a phone call. Visit job agencies in person and discuss the type of job you're after and your qualifications.

Your job search in Spain can easily take several months, so it's best to start while still in your home country. Most opportunities are to be found in the major cities where the job markets are highly competitive with large numbers of job seekers.

No matter your situation or what you're looking for, work experience and a good command of Spanish are valuable assets. Knowledge of Catalan is recommended if you are set on living and working in Catalonia.

Finding a job in a foreign country takes time and persistence. Expect challenges along the way and be prepared to face rejections. Stay positive, keep improving your skills, and continue networking to increase your chances of success.

Barcelona and Madrid are among the most popular cities for people searching for new job opportunities in Spain, although you should expect salaries to be lower than in many other countries. Barcelona, in particular, is an attractive destination because it is an entrepreneurial hub with hundreds of start-ups. In fact, many European companies have moved their call centers and marketing teams to the city to take advantage of low salaries and its popularity among expats.

Submitting your CV in Spain

As with any job application, you will need to make sure your resume or CV stands out. Be sure to write a Spanish-style CV, which means it should be typed with precise wording and no longer than two sides of A4. Provide details of all your qualifications and any professional courses you've completed and attach your professionally taken head and shoulders photo. This is not mandatory, but it can be helpful. Your cover letter should be direct and formal and a maximum of one page long. Also, consider getting a free CV review at TopCV.

Make sure your CV and cover letter are in perfect Spanish. If you do not have a strong command of the language, it will be worth your while paying a native speaker or CV consultant to do it for you or, at the very least, check everything.

In major cities like Barcelona and Madrid, some job offers are posted in English; therefore, sending your CV and cover letter in English is acceptable. However, writing them in Spanish could give you a distinct advantage.

How to prepare for a job interview in Spain

Preparing for a job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when you are an expat hoping to secure a job in a foreign country. However, with proper research and planning, you can boost your chances of success.

Two commonly employed interview formats in Spain are the personalized interview and the panel interview. A personalized interview involves a one-on-one exchange of questions and answers with an interviewer, whereas a panel interview entails simultaneously facing a group of interviewers.

Applying for jobs in Spain

Take advantage of all the avenues open to you to help you find your next job. When you are in Spain, visit your nearest "Oficina de Empleo" (employment agency). Not only for their job listings but also to pick up employment search tips and to get help with paperwork, such as how to obtain social security benefits.

Good to know:

You will be invited for a job interview if your application is successful. In the wake of the pandemic, more interviews are being conducted online over video conferencing platforms like Zoom. The experience is different from a face-to-face interview, so be sure to prepare for it accordingly.

Preparing for an online interview

When preparing for an online interview, keep the following in mind:

  • Test your audio and video equipment before the interview to ensure they are functioning properly;
  • Choose a clutter-free and well-lit space for the interview. Make sure the background is neat and professional;
  • Dress professionally, as you would for an in-person interview, to make a good impression;
  • Practice speaking clearly and concisely to ensure your message is easily understandable to the interviewer;
  • Familiarise yourself with the videoconference platform and its features, such as screen sharing and virtual backgrounds, if applicable;
  • Avoid interruptions and distractions during the interview by turning off notifications on your computer and mobile devices;
  • Have a backup plan in case of technical difficulties, such as keeping the interviewer's contact information handy to inform them if you encounter any issues;
  • Maintain a professional posture and eye contact by looking directly into the camera instead of the screen;
  • Engage with the interviewer by actively listening, nodding and using appropriate body language cues.

Preparing for your in-person job interview

A job interview is a gateway to a potential career opportunity, and proper preparation ensures you can put your best foot forward and leave a lasting impression on the interviewer.

Research the company and role: Find out as much as possible about the company and its values, mission and culture. Understand the specific requirements of the role you are applying for.

Prepare common interview questions: Study and practice answering typical interview questions such as "Tell me about yourself," "Why are you interested in this company?" and "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" The most commonly asked questions typically revolve around your work experience, personal skills, motivation for applying to the position, and your familiarity with the company and industry.

Dress professionally: Dress appropriately for the industry and the specific company you are interviewing with. In most cases, it is better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.

Bring copies of your resume/CV in Spanish: Make sure your resume is well-translated into Spanish, and bring several copies to the interview. Also, make sure you know your CV inside out. The interviewer may pick up on something you've written and ask about it.

Prepare questions to ask the interviewer: Show your interest and engagement in the position by preparing insightful questions about the company, role, or the team you'll be working with.

Practice, practice, practice: Rehearse your answers to common interview questions, practice your body language, and conduct mock interviews with a friend or family member to help boost your confidence.


Note that there is a tendency among some companies to offer positions based on hiring people as freelancers even though they will work full-time on the company´s premises. If this is your experience, you will be responsible for registering as an autonómo (freelancer) and paying your own social security. This is approximately 280 to 300 euros per month unless your income is below the minimum wage. You will pay by direct debit.

As an autonómo in Spain, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits, even if you have paid into the system for years. However, you can pay a supplementary fee every month to claim it if the time ever comes when you are out of work.

Pros and cons of working in Spain

Working in Spain can be an enriching and fulfilling experience. The country is known for its vibrant culture, warm climate and relaxed lifestyle, which often translates into the work environment. Spanish people place great importance on work-life balance, allowing for a slower pace and longer breaks during the day.

One of the main highlights of working in Spain is the strong sense of social connection and camaraderie. Spanish people value relationships and personal connections, and this is reflected in the workplace. Colleagues often become friends, and the work can feel like an extended family. Of course, this can vary from place to place and will not be experienced by everyone.

Another aspect of working in Spain is the appreciation for leisure time. The Spaniards take their breaks seriously, and it is not uncommon to have a long lunch break followed by a siesta, especially in southern regions. This downtime allows workers to recharge and return to work with renewed energy. Additionally, Spain's geographic location and proximity to beautiful beaches and scenic landscapes provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities during weekends or holidays.

While Spain offers many unique advantages in the workplace, it is important to note that the work culture can also have some challenges. Spanish work hours might be longer than in other countries, with some businesses sometimes staying open until late in the evening. However, this can vary depending on the industry and region. Additionally, bureaucracy can be a hurdle, particularly when it comes to legal requirements and paperwork.

Moving to Spain for work

Information for EU and EEA nationals

If you are a foreign national coming from a European Union/European Economic Area country, check out the European Job Mobility Portal. This comprehensive website provides lots of information about the Spanish labor market as well as listings of current vacancies.

Information for Non-EU/EEA Nationals

Most foreign nationals from outside the EU and EEA need a permit to work as an employee of a Spanish company. Once you have secured a job, your employer will request one on your behalf. 

Be aware that it can be challenging to find a job in Spain from abroad, given the bureaucracy and formalities. Contact the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in your home country to learn more about relevant employment opportunities.

Useful links:

Oficina empleo - National Agency for Employment

Servicio público - Find a job in Spain

Ministerio de Trabajo, Migraciones y Seguridad Social (Ministry of Labour, Migrations and Social Security)

Eures - The European Mobility Portal







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