Finding work in Barcelona

work in Barcelona
Fotokon / Shutterstock.com
Updated 2021-08-10 14:44

Are you an expat looking for work in Barcelona? Spain's second-largest city is Catalonia's administrative and economic centre, and a popular tourist draw with world-class attractions, proximity to the sea, fascinating culture, and an agreeable climate. It's no small wonder then that it is one of Europe's most visited cities and a magnet for foreigners looking for work opportunities. 

Barcelona is also one of the European Union's most densely populated cities and continues to attract students, professionals and foreign investors from across the globe. Although the city's labour market suffered during the coronavirus pandemic, recovery is on the way. And as the Catalonian capital gets back on its feet, several sectors such as health and IT are increasing the number of available job opportunities.

Barcelona's economy

Barcelona is Catalonia's most developed city, home of the country's largest port and one of Spain's major economic centres. Important industrial sectors include electronics, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, chemicals, appliance manufacturing and tourism. The city is also investing more in its R&D ecosystem, and with the Barcelona Science Plan 2020-2023, it hopes to become the European capital of science and innovation.

The labour market

Barcelona's labour market suffered because of the pandemic. In January 2021, the city recorded 36.3% more unemployment than the same time the previous year. The number of unemployed people was approaching 100,000. However, Barcelona has its eyes firmly set on recovery and once again being a place of opportunities.

For example, the technology sector and the information and communications technologies sector have increased the number of people they employ. Likewise, it's something of a boomtime for sectors linked to e-Commerce with several logistics centres located in Barcelona. As more people shop online, eCommerce retailers are creating many more jobs such as delivery drivers, packers and order pickers.

How to find a job in Barcelona

Here are a few essential tips to help you land your perfect job in Barcelona:

1) Make sure you are eligible to work in the city. If you are from an EU or EEA country, you have the automatic right to live and work anywhere in Spain. You will not have any special visa or permit. However, if you are from outside the EU/EEA, you will probably need a permit to work in Barcelona. Before you can apply for one, your prospective employer has to start the application process. Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries can only land a job in the city if the job is in a shortage occupation or the company hasn't been able to find a suitable candidate from Spain or another European country.

2) Search for job opportunities online. When it comes to job hunting, the internet will lead you to a deep pool of resources including job sites like Indeed and Monster and local recruitment agencies. Here is a small selection of agencies to get you started.

Xpat Jobs - for English-speaking professional jobs

ThinkSpain - a helpful resource that lets you filter jobs for whether you want to find employment where you speak mainly Spanish or English

InfoJobs -a job portal and career network. You can search for roles and upload your CV so that employers can find you.

Other places to look include the classified ads section of local newspapers. There's also nothing stopping you from cold calling once you are in Barcelona. Identify companies you want to work for and ask if there are any openings. You could also submit your CV to Human Resources departments and follow up a few days later with a phone call.

3) Consider the types of job opportunities available to you. If you're interested in working for a big company, top international firms such as Amazon, Facebook and King have operations in Barcelona. If you're a native English speaker and qualified to teach, you'll discover there's always a demand for English teachers in Barcelona. If you're a health, science or information technology professional, now is an excellent time to look for work in the city as more opportunities in these fields are opening up.

Another popular sector that continually creates positions is tourism. Between 2014 and 2019, the tourism sector created around 410,000 jobs in Catalonia.

4) Network. Many jobs in Barcelona are filled through word of mouth. Sometimes, they're never even advertised. Therefore, making contacts is one of the most important things you can do when looking for a job in Barcelona. Start building your network online with professional sites such as LinkedIn. Once you are in the city, join business network groups and visit sites such as Meetup that focus on bringing like-minded people together. The more you can put yourself out there the more opportunities you may be able to create for yourself.

5) Prepare your CV. This is one of the most important steps to take when looking for a new job in Barcelona. Make sure your CV is up to date, easy to read and error-free. If you're applying for an English-speaking job, it is acceptable to submit your CV in English. However, for other jobs, a Spanish CV is expected. If you don't know how to prepare one consider hiring a CV consultant.

6) Be prepared for your job interview. Nowadays, because of COVID, many interviews are conducted online through videoconferencing sites such as Zoom. This presents an array of challenges if you've never been interviewed in this way before. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a remote interview:

  • Dress formally as you would for an in-person interview.
  • Find a quiet place in your home to set up your laptop and video camera. Make sure it is clean and uncluttered. You could opt for a professional-looking online background.
  • Familiarise yourself with the videoconferencing platform before the interview.
  • Ensure your computer has a fully charged battery or plug it into a power socket to make sure it doesn't cut out during the interview.
  • When speaking, look directly into the camera. It gives the impression that you are making eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Make sure your mobile is turned off or in silent mode.
  • Advise other people in your household of the time of the interview so they can keep noise levels down.
  • When the interviewer is speaking use your mute button. This will cut out any extraneous noise from your home that may interrupt him/her.

If you have an in-person interview, the following tips will stand you in good stead:

  • Shake hands with the interviewer. This may be reduced to an elbow bump depending on what is happening with COVID-19.
  • If the interviewer asks questions in English, reply in Spanish to demonstrate your proficiency and comfort level with the language.
  • Be punctual.
  • Conduct thorough research of the company because your interviewer may ask you questions about its history, operations and plans.
  • Don't ramble during the interview. Ensure your answers are concise.
  • Prepare some questions in advance to ask at the end of the interview. These can be related to the company, its operations and the experience of being an employee of the firm. That being said, don't ask questions such as "how long is the lunch break?" Asking informed and intelligent questions demonstrates you have done your research and are interested in the company.

Important: 

The Spanish have a reputation for being relaxed about punctuality. However, if you have a job interview or work meeting, you will be expected to turn up on time.

Applying for a job in Barcelona

When you apply for a job in Barcelona as elsewhere in Spain, you may be asked to provide the following information:

  • A criminal record certificate from your home country and one from Spain (certificado de antecedentes penales).
  • A certificate from the Spanish sex offenders registry (certificado de delitos de naturaleza sexual) if you plan to work in a job where there is contact with children.

Preparing your CV

If you are compiling a Spanish CV and cover letter in Spanish, it must be in perfect Spanish. It is unlikely an employer will look at your CV favourably if it is poorly written. If you are not confident of your ability in this regard, hire a Spanish native speaker to check what you've written.

When preparing your CV, you should include such personal details as your name, date and place of birth, current address and NIE (foreigner's identity number).

You may also want to include a photo. Although not compulsory, it's expected nowadays. Choose a professional-looking headshot with a neutral background.

Good to know:

Some employers may check your social media accounts to try and get a handle on what you're like. If you don't want them to see anything, make sure you have your privacy settings in place.

A note about Brexit

Brexit has changed a lot of things for UK citizens, including the chance to move to Spain. You can still live and work in the country following the UK's departure from the European Union. However, the rules are a lot tighter.

When the UK was part of the EU, UK citizens benefited from the freedom of movement, which meant they could live and work in the country without needing a visa or special permit. Since Brexit, UK citizens are classed as third-country nationals who are in the same situation as people from other non-EU countries.

Therefore, the only way to land a job is if it is on Spain's shortage occupation list. This is a continually updated inventory of jobs in short supply in Spain. If you do find a position and an employer wants to hire you, they must demonstrate that a Spanish or EU candidate couldn't fill the post.

Note that if you're a UK citizen who was a legal resident in Spain before 2021, you have an automatic right to work in the country provided you remain legally resident.

Salaries in Barcelona

Of course, you'll want to know how much you can earn while in the city. According to Salary Explore, the average salary of a person working in Barcelona as of 2021 is approximately 3,130 euros per month. The pay range is from around 960 euros per month to more than 13,000 euros per month. 

Here are some of the average salaries per profession in the city.

  • Waiter - 1,000 euros per month
  • Hotel receptionist -1,200 euros per month
  • IT analyst - 1,800 euros per month
  • Data scientist - 2,100 euros per month
  • Civil engineer - 1,800 euros per month
  • Mechanical engineer - 2,000 euros per month
  • Nurse - 1,800 euros per month
  • Doctor - 3,000 euros per month

You will also need to know whether your salary will allow you to live comfortably in the city. According to a report published by Area Metropolitana de Barcelona (AMB), a person needs at least 1,322 euros a month to make ends meet in Barcelona.

Working as a freelancer in Barcelona

For EU/EEA nationals, the process of becoming a freelancer and starting your own business in Barcelona is relatively straightforward. It involves applying for your NIE and registering with the social security system and tax service. For non-EU nationals who want to be their own boss, the process is a little more complicated and involves securing a work visa. Among the most important requirements are:

  • A comprehensive business plan with details of how you plan to finance your new business, which must be profitable within three year
  • Evidence you have the skills to carry out the work of your company
  • Proof of contracts or commissions
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to support the business
  • Details of expected returns
  • An estimate of the number of jobs you plan to create, if applicable

You may also want to be a remote worker in Barcelona, such as a writer, translator, illustrator, social media manager, accountant or tutor. With the internet and modern communications technologies working remotely has never been easier. If you select this option, you have to register as an 'autonomo,' which is Spanish for a freelancer or self-employed person.

Useful links:

LinkedIn

Xpat Jobs

Craigslist

Indeed

Barcelona Trabajos

Info Jobs

Ajuntament de Barcelona

Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.