So, before I tell you about how to find work in Italy as a foreigner, I should explain my experience first. I found my first job in Italy months before my graduation. I started part-time when I was a student, and became a full-time employee after my graduation. Not to forget, I also did an internship in Milan during my studies. So I can confidently say that I have experience in different types of works in Italy. Here I will explain the process and my 7 tips so that others don’t have to go through the same trouble I have gone through.
Finding a job in 2021 is hard. Finding a job in Italy as a foreigner is harder. But nothing good in life is gained easily. And I always believe: The harder it is, the more it is worth doing! So, with that bit of motivation in mind, let me tell you some tips and tricks.
1. Get your documents in order so you can work as a foreigner
This part is for Non-EU citizens like myself. Whatever stay permit or visa you have in Italy (or that you don’t) find out if and how long you can work in Italy before looking for a job. It would be awful when you find a job and realize that you can’t start working because of some missing papers. Some types:
Permesso di Soggiorno per Studio (Student stay permit)
It is the stay permit when you get in to Italy for studying purposes. With permesso di soggiorno per studio You are allowed to work 20 hours a week (source and required documents). It is given yearly until you graduate. Once you graduate you can get a job search permit.
Are you still a student? Check out my 7 tips on how to find an internship in Italy as a foreigner.
Permesso di Soggiorno per Attessa Occupazione (Job search permit)
The permesso di soggiorno per attessa occupazione a.k.a job search permit is given to the people who: graduated from a university in Italy, or had a job and have resigned/fired. You are allowed to work full time until the end of the permit. Remember that you can’t renew this permesso, it is given only to find a job, and you should convert it to Permesso di Lavoro (work permit) once you find a job.
(And before you ask yes, also ricevuta is fine for both of these permits. source)
If you have no documents and/or you are not in Italy
You have to find a job before you apply for the visa, so it is a bit more complicated. I suggest working with a travel agency for the visa, as I have no experience with it.
If you have Permesso di Soggiorno per Lavoro Subordinato (Employee work & stay permit)
Well, to get it you already need a job. So if you have this you don’t have any problem with the work… skip to the next section.
2. Update your resume AND LinkedIn
Tailor your CV according to the job you would like to find. If you have several different positions in mind, make different CVs highlighting the related work experience & education. Don’t send the same CV to different positions, you’ll just reduce your chances. And yes I know some countries prefer resumes without a photo, but for Italy, it is suggested to put a photo in your CV.
This should go without saying but I suggest not to make your CV more than a page. Create a LinkedIn* profile and put ALL the info in your there, but not on your CV. (Connect with me on LinkedIn here, you never know, it might help you find a job). Be brief and on point. That is another reason why I suggest having several different versions ready to send.
I know some people are like “I already have a CV, why would I need a LinkedIn profile?” and I will just respond “Because it is 2021, not 2005.” Should be enough. I hope. Anyway, let’s move to the most important part!
*I used LinkedIn the most, and I found my job through LinkedIn, but there are other platforms you can use such as Indeed, Glassdoor, InfoJobs.it etc.
3. APPLY A LOT OF JOBS. AND I MEAN A LOT.
Pick a number that you think is “A lot of job applications” and then triple it. Make that many applications EVERY MONTH. I did 300-400 job applications in a month before I found a job. I would increase the number rapidly if I didn’t find it in a month. I know some foreigners looking for a job in Italy who made more than 2k applications before finding a job.
A common excuse people make is “There aren’t that many jobs in my field”. As I said this is just an excuse because nobody actually knows how many are there. If you are a white-collar (like me) there are always more job postings than you can apply for. Hundreds of new positions are opening in Italy every single day, even during the pandemic. Just don’t be lazy to click some buttons!!
3.1 Keep track of your job applications
It is easy to forget some applications and/or confuse them with other companies when you apply a lot. So have a file where you keep notes about each job application. Some human resources just call you out of nowhere without any notification and ask you questions. So it would be nice to keep a file where you have all your applications listed.
I was lucky to find a job in a month, but be prepared to search for a job for a couple of months. I have a friend who found a really good job 6 months after graduation. This brings us to my next tip.
4. Be patient and keep your motivation up!
I’m sorry to tell you but you will get rejected. I repeat you will get A LOT OF REJECTIONS. Let that sink in, but don’t sink yourself with it. It is OK. They don’t know you. They are not rejecting you as a person. It is just a PDF they see and reject. And I’ll tell you a secret, they don’t read half of it anyway. Recruiters look at resumes for 7.4 seconds on average. So, just ignore the rejections.
Some of them will do worse than rejecting you, they’ll ghost you. Yes -like that date you thought was a perfect match…- they’ll just go radio silent ignoring the time you put in to contact them. Don’t wait for a response. You’d just lose your own time. Keep going on doing more applications.
This might be a long process. And it doesn’t just depend on you. There are so many other variables such as economy, market, the sector you’re applying to, etc. So don’t blame yourself for anything. Learn from the constructive feedback (if there is any) and move on.
5. Don’t let them forget you
If there is a company or a position that you liked so much, and didn’t hear them for over a week, contact them again. As I said, you are just an email or a pdf on their computer, so it is very easy to overlook/ignore/miss your application. It doesn’t hurt to hit them again to make sure you are still being considered for the job.
This is applicable when a company contacted you once but didn’t continue the conversation. Remember that in most cases human resources have many jobs to do, and many candidates to consider. Just give a little push to remind them you’re still available. This also shows your interest in the company and the position.
6. Keep improving yourself in the meantime
Like I said, finding a job in Italy as a foreigner could take some time so you can do other things meanwhile, such as:
6.1 One important thing to find work in Italy as a foreigner: Improve your Italian
This is for non-Italians like myself. In Italy, normally most jobs require Italian. Even if your job doesn’t require Italian, you will be working with many Italians so it is very useful to speak in their language. On the other hand, I find it more respectful. You never know how many opportunities you miss because of a lack of Italian.
6.2 Get your job skills certified!
You might be the best in what you do, but if you don’t have anyone to certify it doesn’t mean much. Even if you get some online courses or tests that show your level of competence, it’s a plus. And share them with your network on LinkedIn. You never know, one of your connections might have a friend who is looking for someone exactly like you! Some general sites that give courses/certifications are Coursera, Udemy, Khan Academy etc.
7. Look for a job that will make you happy
I thought of writing this headline as “Don’t sell yourself short.”. But the actual reason I don’t want you to sell yourself short is: I want you to be happy in the long run. Any job with a minimum wage would make your ends meet. But not many jobs will bring you happiness. Don’t forget that your mental and physical health is more important than anything. Most companies in the world will not really care about how you are, as long as you get the job done. So you should be the one to take care of yourself because they probably won’t.
7.1 Don’t forget: You can always negotiate for the position
If you are not comfortable about something, or something is not clear don’t hesitate to ask for clarification or even change. Work hours? Salary? Yearly vacation? Just speak your mind from the beginning. Remember that the interviews work both ways, while they are interviewing you, you should be interviewing them as well. I say this as someone who has made more than a hundred interviews in his life.
This also depends on your previous experiences. I come from Turkey and in comparison, the working conditions are much better in Italy. So you should also compare it with your country or past work experiences in general.
How to find work in Italy as a foreigner: Closure
Finding a job in Italy as a foreigner is hard, but not impossible. The difficulty makes it more worthwhile. Think of it like this, if it was easy everybody would do it.
Instead of work, if you are considering studying in Italy, check out my post on how to study in Italy as an International.