How to get a job in Madrid: 8 steps


Behind the headlines of economic decline, there's still potential wealth to be found in working in Spain’s capital city, Madrid. If you'd like to work in Spain’s beautiful, prosperous capital, you'll need a combination of savvy job targeting and local knowledge.

Madrid is the economic and cultural hub of central Spain. It generates enough revenue to make it the second-most prosperous region in Spain in terms of its number of company headquarters, behind only Catalonia. In fact, 16% of all companies established in Spain are located in Madrid.

If you’re looking for work in Madrid, get started by reading the following 8 steps.

1. Figure out your visa status

Working in Madrid is an exciting and enviable position to be in. If you're an EU citizen, you can live and work without restriction in Madrid and in the rest of Spain. If you're not an EU citizen, you’ll need to get one of the following permits:

  • The Type A permit allows for temporary or seasonal work. It's valid for up to 9 months.

  • The Type B Initial permit is for long term employment. It’s valid for one year, and can be renewed, leading to the next type of permit.

  • The Type B Renewed permit is a Type B Initial permit that's been renewed for a second year of work in Madrid (amounting to two years total).

  • The Type C permit benefits Type B Renewed workers who stay longer than 2 years. It must be renewed every five years, and it lets workers stay in the country for as long as they like.

You can also apply for the EU Blue Card if you have a higher education (a Bachelor's degree at minimum), or a significant amount of work experience. The Blue Card entitles you to a year of work in Madrid and it can be renewed.

2. Research local industry job sectors

Excited to play a role in Madrid’s economy? Nearly 85% of jobs in Madrid are created in the service sector. There’s also a lot of opportunities in construction, industry, skilled trades and finance. Other big industries include transport, communications, real estate, energy, tourism, banking, insurance, textiles and financial sectors. For a wide scope of what industries are prevalent in Madrid, check out this helpful resource.

3.  Search jobs for English speaking foreigners

Despite what you may think, your chances of landing a job in Spain aren't all that slim. However, there are some barriers. Most importantly, be aware that your odds of getting hired are always increased if you speak Spanish.

The reality is that Spain is actually cutting unemployment and its capital city, Madrid, is more prosperous than the rest of the country. Fortunately, if you look for certain types of work you stand a much better chance of success. There are currently shortages of native English teachers, IT professionals and workers in the tourism sector.

Generally your prospects as a skilled expat should profit from Madrid's openness to foreigners.

There are also plenty of opportunities for teachers. Madrid is no exception to the worldwide boom in ESL teaching. The English as a Second Language field (ESL, EFL, TESOL) offers many jobs to teachers who are ready to take their energies abroad.

4. Get help with your job hunt

There are a number of good online English-language resources to help you land a job in Madrid.  

Be aware that your best ticket to finding work in Madrid comes with a combination of patience and personal connections. Spain’s work culture is dominated by networking and word-of-mouth decisions. Don’t discount the value of meeting people who may open doors for your career. Sometimes patience and determination aren't enough, and if you find yourself out of luck, try networking for your sought-after position in Madrid.

5. Build up a network

Networking is the hidden route to jobs in Madrid and Spain generally. The best way to network in Madrid as an expat is to apply for temporary work. A short-term work placement in hospitality and tourism can at least put you in contact with a pool of Spanish networkers. Think of the work placement, however temporary, as the basis for a career.

6. Spend time writing your CV

One of the particularities with writing a CV geared towards Madrid is including a picture of yourself. In Spain a picture on a CV is commonplace, but don’t bother if you don’t have a professional headshot on hand. Having no picture at all will serve you better than a vacation snap or a casual selfie.

Demonstrate any language skills clearly for employers, because being bilingual is highly important in Madrid. Aside from the CV itself, it’s also a good idea to attach a formal application letter.

7. Spend time preparing for your job interview

Spanish interviews put a lot of emphasis on the psychological and psychometric testing of applicants. Basically, your personality can count as much as your job experience. This can be positive for those trying to break into Madrid’s job market with a lot of determination, but it can also seem like a barrier for qualified professionals wary of a popularity contest.

Your motivation as an employee is very important during interviews. If you’ve left work suddenly in the past, it's alright to be frank with your interviewer about your rationale; interviewers in Madrid appreciate directness.

8. Make the move

By email, phone, or word of mouth, however it happened: you’re hired!

Gaining a job offer in Madrid is the most important step towards a new life in Spain. Your employer will submit an application on your behalf for a work permit. In the meantime, you’ll receive a copy of this application and submit it to a local Spanish embassy to continue the process. It can take up to eight months for a work permit to be processed, so planning ahead is important.

Once you do accept the position and make your move to Spain, you’ll most likely find the need to either send or receive Euros. If you plan to open a bank account in Madrid or know someone with a bank account there, consider using Wise to get the fairest deal on your transfer. Not only does Wise use the real mid-market exchange rate to convert your money, but your money is received and sent via local bank transfers in both your home country and in Spain thus resulting in lower fees on your end.

Best of luck on this new journey in your life and always remember to have fun!

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