Find out how to prepare a Spanish-style CV and cover letter and how to act in an interview to give you the best chance of finding work in Spain.
After you find a job in Spain, you should adapt your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) and interview techniques to match the general expectations in the Spanish job market. Give yourself the best chance of getting a job in Spain by producing a Spanish-style CV and cover letter. Learning some Spanish business etiquette can also help you avoid making cultural blunders in a Spanish job interview. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your Spanish job application, including writing a Spanish-style CV and interview tips.
Applying for a job in Spain: which language?
Preparing your job application and going for an interview is not always the same as back home. You will need to present yourself and all your skills, qualifications and experience in the way that Spanish employers expect. For job hunting, read Expatica’s comprehensive guide to finding a job in Spain.
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, and English is not as widely used in the local Spanish business scene as in some other European countries. Unless you’re specifically applying to an English-speaking office, or Spanish is not a job requirement, your application and interview should be in Spanish.
Your Spanish job application
You should write both your CV and covering letter in Spanish unless specifically requested to write in another language or if the job requires no knowledge of Spanish. Some job titles or work-related jargon can be difficult to translate into Spanish, so unless you’re completely confident, ask a native Spanish speaker to read through the CV and letter before you submit it.
Online and email applications are becoming more popular but some companies still prefer to receive a hard copy of a CV and cover letter. In some cases, you may not need to send in a personalised CV at all, as application forms are used widely in Spain.
Writing a Spanish-style CV
The current job market in Spain is competitive, so you need to make your CV stand out. The CV, also known as el curriculum, should be typed and be clear, concise, well-structured and no longer than two sides of A4. Limit the use of the first person, keeping it as professional and as factual as possible. Likewise, use bullet points rather than wordy paragraphs, and while it’s good to highlight your skills and qualities, don’t lie.
Arrange your CV in the following order:
- Personal details or datos personales – include your full name, date and place of birth (don’t hide your nationality), current address and telephone number with the international dialling code if outside Spain, your most professional sounding email address and if you’re already authorised to work in Spain, your NIE (foreigner’s ID number). Note: it’s acceptable to be asked about your age and marital status in job applications in Spain.
- Photo – it is common to include a photo and may be expected, although it is not obligatory. A headshot with a neutral background is acceptable, placed in the top, right-hand corner.
- Work experience – if you’ve been working for more than three years, list your work experience or experiencia professional next – if not, put education next and work experience afterwards. For work experience, list all your employers in reverse chronological order, including names and addresses for each company/organisation, dates, job title and tasks/responsibilities.
- Education – under education or formación academic, you should list post-secondary educational institutions with addresses, dates, courses taken and with qualifications/grades.
- Language – list your languages or idiomas with the level of your spoken and written language skills, including certifications.
- Skills – under informática list computer or IT skills.
- Other interests – under otros datos de interés or otras activid, you can put any other relevant information, for example driving licence, interests or voluntary activities, but don’t make it too personal and only include what is specific to the job.
- References – you don’t need to include references but can write se facilitaran referencias en caso de ser solicitadas (references will be provided on request).
Europass provides downloadable Spanish-CV templates and instructions on writing your Spanish CV.
Your cover letter or carta de presentacion should be typed, short and direct, and in a formal style.
- Top left: write your name, address and telephone number, then below that, the name of the company and the person you’re writing to, and finally the name of the place you’re writing from, the date and the job reference (if the letter is speculative, mention this here).
- Address the letter to a named person (or if not, then Estimado Sr./Sra or Muy Señor/a Mío/a). First mention the job you’re applying for, before explaining briefly why you are applying for it and which aspects of your CV make you a suitable candidate. Don’t go into too much detail – that’s what your CV is for.
- End the letter formally, with an expression such as En espera de sus noticias, le saluda atentamente (which translates roughly as ‘waiting for your reply, meanwhile my sincere regards’), and then sign it and write your name underneath.
Don’t send certificates unless requested – otherwise you can show these in your interview.
Spanish phrases for writing letters
- To whom it may concern: A quien corresponda
- Dear Sir/Madam: Estimados Señores
- Dear Mr/Mrs: Apreciado Sr. or Estimado Sr. / Apreciada Sra. or Apreciada Sra.
- Dear [first name]: Querido
- Should you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me: Si necesita más información, no dude en contactarme.
- I look forward to hearing from you soon: Espero tener noticias suyas pronto.
- Regards: Saludos
- Kind/Best regards: Cordiales saludos
- Yours faithfully: Muy atentamente (recipient name unknown)
- Yours sincerely: Reciba un cordial saludo (recipient name known)
Spanish accented letters (Alt + codes)
Accents are important when writing Spanish, particular in names. To use these codes, make sure Numbers Lock is on and press Alt plus the code, releasing the Alt key only after you finish the code sequence.
- Á/á: 0193/0225
- É/é: 0201/0223
- Í/í: 0205/0237
- Ó/ó, 0211/0243
- Ú/ú, 0218/0250
- Ñ/ñ: 165/164
- €: 0128
- ¿: 168
- ¡: 0161
The outcome of your application
Getting a response can sometimes be slow in Spain, and if you don’t hear back within a reasonable time, you should follow up your application with an email or phone call. If you don’t receive a response at all, you can consider that your application has not been successful.
Spanish-style interviews and the selection procedure
What happens at the interview will depend on the particular job but for professional roles, the procedure often starts with an initial selection process involving a short personal interview, and in some cases, psychometric and/or vocational testing. If you pass this, then you may have to go through a series of interviews – as many as six for graduate level jobs – until you know whether or not you have the job.
The job interview carries a lot of weight, as personal qualities and motivation are highly valued in Spain, and can be considered as, or more, important than professional qualities. Interviews are usually face-to-face but you may also be asked to take part in a group discussion.
As with any job interview, be as well prepared as possible. Research the organisation and sector, be ready to talk specifically about how your own experience ands skills qualifies you for the job and have some questions ready to ask the interviewer at the end.
- Even if your interviewer speaks English, you should speak Spanish during the interview to show the extent of your language skills (if Spanish is required for the job), or ask which language they prefer to conduct the interview in.
- If the interview will be in Spanish, consider having a session with a language tutor beforehand to prepare and practice some possible questions and answers.
- Dress appropriately: wear business clothes if it’s a corporate job, or smart wear for everything else. Always dress up not down – the typical Spanish dress code is more formal rather than casual.
- Be punctual – even if, as a general rule, things tend not to run on time in Spain, don’t be late for the interview.
- Wait for your interviewer to initiate a handshake and definitely do not lean in for the customary Spanish cheek kisses. Sit once you have been invited to do so.
- During the interview, use the formal usted rather than the informal tu, unless the interviewer invites you to do otherwise.
Use formal language and polite wording and avoid slang and colloquial expressions.
Be positive, smiley and approachable – your personality counts towards securing a job in Spain.
- Don’t mention money in the interview – discuss finances after you have been offered the job.