Job Search Abroad (Insights from Spain to US)
Today on the blog, we are very excited to have a guest writer, Gisela of Creative Career Thinking. Gisela is originally from Barcelona, Spain but has called Los Angeles, USA home for the past eight years. She works in HR for one of the biggest Hollywood Studios and is a business development guru. One of her passions is helping other immigrants on the path to success in the business world so she provides tons of great advice and relevant content on her Instagram account @the_former_hustler. For this reason, we knew she was the perfect person to ask about similarities and differences between the job search process in the USA and Spain. We hope you will enjoy her insights and tips based on her experiences in both countries.
Without further ado, we bring you Gisela:
Moving abroad is always an adventure, and it never gets easier. If you are moving without having a job the struggle can be pretty high, so hopefully I can provide some insights for you!
I am from Spain, Barcelona and I have to admit when I moved to the US I barely spoke English so my progress was very slow the ﬁrst couple of years in terms of getting my career back on track but when I got there, the outcomes were stellar.
Here are some diﬀerences I encountered during my job search coming from Spain which may help you either if you are coming to the US or if you are moving to Spain.
One of the ﬁrst diﬀerences I noticed as soon as I started digging into the new job market was the need to adjust my resume.
Your resume may seem like a document that works worldwide but the format and the information we include actually varies from country to country. When I got to the US, I found very surprising having to remove my photo proﬁle from my resume (how impersonal I thought). Now what I ﬁnd crazy is to add a photo on a resume, but if I was going to move back to Spain I would probably add it back.
It is important to do some research and adjust it to the country, it makes sense for multiple reasons, but one of them is to show you are being diligent and doing your homework.
You may have to spend some time adjusting its overall content as well, thinking what international experience you could leverage and what transferable skills you could include that speaks to the new opportunities you may be pursuing.
In terms of interviewing, I did not encounter much diﬀerences between US and Spain whether it is from a candidate or recruiter perspective (I have been in both sides). Maybe something I could point out is that in Spain I recall having experienced more behavioral interviewing methods than in the US, but that’s just my own personal experience.
Needless to say, preparing for interviews and even phone screenings is essential for everyone but becomes imperative for expats as we have additional layers of challenges especially if we are still getting proﬁcient in the language.
Practice will be a determining factor and the more interviews you get on your schedule the closer you will get to “Yes, you are hired”. Phone screenings were terrifying for me, my heart would speed up every time I would hear the phone ring. I always carried around a small notebook just in case I got caught on the spot and I needed to check my notes or write something down and it really made a diﬀerence.
If you get an unexpected call from a recruiter to do a phone screen on the spot, also know that you have the right to reschedule, so you can relax and ﬁnd a quiet place where you have your tools and can focus 100%.
Another factor that surprised me during the job search process and about the job market, is the diﬀerence between how oﬀers are presented and how salaries are negotiated. In Spain you won’t have to worry as much about negotiating your salary back and forth, that’s not something as typical as it is in the US. I would say it never hurts to try. I would consider negotiating in a way that made sense if I was going to move back but just for your knowledge, it is not something that people and companies do, generally speaking.
I have to admit among everything that goes into job search, negotiating a salary is the thing that took me the longest to crack. It felt very uncomfortable to me for a long time and I would dread that moment but I got better and better at it once I understood what goes behind it and I familiarized myself with the job market and the economy.
Taxes and investments plans also work diﬀerently. I felt like in Spain I did not need to be ﬁnancially savvy to stay out of trouble while in the US I had to level up my game and I learnt a lot about it the hard way and hands on from taxes to investment plans and health plans. A lot of these factors in the US need to be considered when receiving a job oﬀer.
You will also ﬁnd employment laws extremely diﬀerent so I would encourage anyone to spend some time doing online research. Luckily nowadays, we can ﬁnd pretty much everything we need online and you can connect with people that will be happy to help through social media if you still have not met new friends.
Generally speaking in Spain sadly you won’t ﬁnd as many regulations as in the US related to employee protection but on the other side, you won’t have to worry about being left out without medical care regardless if you have employment or not or if you are going through a rough ﬁnancial moment.
Cultural work environment
You will ﬁnd an open and friendly work culture in Spain, at least is what I experienced during 24 years living there. People are open to discuss topics that perhaps in other places would not be as common in a work environment, for example, sharing more things that are related to ‘personal life’ or social opinion.
In the US I found everyone really friendly as well but openness has its own curve as I noticed a more pronounced barriers between what people talk about at work.
Sometimes, and in spite of the years I have been in the US, I still ﬁnd myself bubbling up sensitive topics of discussion that no one else does or coming up with expressions that make me wonder ‘Oops! Perhaps I should not have’ or ‘I should have said that diﬀerently’ but luckily, they are welcomed and I learnt a lot about communication. I actually feel like living in the US and working here made me a stronger skilled communicator.
Lastly, it is worth to mention that many days you will probably end up going out for tapas at lunch time or after work (I miss that a lot!).
The slow curve to rebuild a career that moving abroad put me in, paid back in ways I could have never imagined and I got to places that I would have never reached without those struggles and experiences and I hope it does the same for you!
If you are reading this I am sure we share similar curiosities, so please connect! I would love to hear from you.