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Expats working in Madrid can expect to be immersed in a modern city that lays claim to most of the population in Spain's central region, as well as the majority of its economic activity.
Jobseekers looking to set themselves apart from their competition would do well to learn some Spanish. Those who are also able to speak a third European language will have an even bigger advantage.
The job market in Madrid
As the country's capital, Madrid attracts both direct foreign investment and a fair number of multinational corporations. The city's largest economic sector is its service industry. The best performing sectors within the industry include corporate services, logistics, communications, real estate and financial services.
On average, expats are likely to find more job opportunities in Madrid than in other Spanish cities, but competition for jobs is often much higher than in other major European cities.
Expats working in Madrid will receive some of the highest wages in Spain, which is an additional attraction for those moving to the city. The downside of this is that the growing population and increased demand for real estate mean that the cost of living in Madrid is also higher than in the rest of the country. It should also be noted that salaries in Madrid are generally lower than in other Western European countries.
Teaching English in Madrid remains popular among expats in the city, while other industries popular with expat employees include tourism, ICT, finance, pharmaceutical and aerospace.
Finding a job in Madrid
Expats from EU countries have the advantage of not needing a work permit for Spain. Employers also generally offer job contracts to other European nationals before looking outside the continent.
New arrivals who are non-EU nationals will need to have a job offer or apply to be self-employed to legally work in Madrid. Expats moving to Madrid will need to secure an NIE (Número de Identificación de Exrenajeros) or TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) number to work in the city. EU nationals can apply for an NIE number, while expats from non-EU countries will need to apply for both the NIE and TIE numbers. These will allow expats to legally open a business, buy a car, work and secure accommodation in the city. Newcomers can visit the Madrid City Council website for specific application processes for the NIE and TIE numbers for Madrid.
It is a good idea for expats to contact a recruitment specialist or head-hunter in Spain to assist them with finding a job. There are also several online portals, such as LinkedIn and Indeed, which advertise job openings and should be checked regularly.
Work culture in Madrid
Spain's business culture is strongly rooted in tradition, and some business practices may seem old-fashioned to expats. Nevertheless, once they adjust to this, expats should find it relatively easy and pleasant to work in Spain.
Hierarchy is paramount to successfully doing business in Spain. Spanish managers are autocrats of a sort, having the authority to make important decisions without consulting their employees. Those in mid- and lower-level positions should therefore show the utmost respect for their seniors.
That said, Spain's business culture is slowly evolving. Those of a younger generation may uphold slightly different ideals and subscribe to more egalitarian practices.
Making contacts and networking in Madrid is also important. The power of connections is not to be underestimated and is a principle ingrained in the Spanish working world. Expats should take advantage of any attempt to interact with decision-makers and should make an effort to attend job fairs and group events.
It is also important for foreigners to learn at least some Spanish. International business may be conducted in English, but other transactions will most likely occur in the local language.
►See Doing Business in Spain for more information about the work culture, etiquette and best practice
►See and Do in Madrid gives working expats ideas on how to occupy their weekends
"Unemployment has thankfully been decreasing these days, although salaries remain low. If you want to find a job easily, teaching a language or having some other speciality skill is the safest bet." Read about Canadian expat Mimi's experiences in Madrid.
Are you an expat living in Madrid?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Madrid. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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