Friday, February 18, 2011

Job search in Spain - Myths and truths

For the first time in this blog I am personally involved in the topic I am bringing up for a post...I could also add dramatically involved, if we look into the cold numbers that this not long ago promising country is yielding nowadays.

Yes, I am talking about finding an attractive and challenging job in a country that has the worst unemployment rate among the OECD members and its productivity has just abruptly fell from the 33rd to the 42nd position! A country that has seen how the brand Spain is losing the prestige that took years to gain to become almost and stigma for those Spanish firms that are doing well.

I consider myself fortunate by the quality of the education received and the professional experience accrued in Spain and abroad...I have no doubt that I would be eligible for a number of job positions if we were now in 2007...but does this guarantee me a job today?

In 95% of posts starting this way, the remaining part tends to be an exercise of pessimism, complaints and a gateway to target and shoot some of the factors that surely have created this situation: Real Estate bubble, high market expectations of high returns (buy low sell high) and boomerang effect and depressing consequences on the people. Also general conformism when things were fine, lack of anticipation and even larger lack of reaction by our politicians are the drivers of all that. I could spend a long time describing, for those who don´t know anything about it, the political arena of Spain...but my time and your time are very valuable and neither you nor me want to waste it talking about supreme mediocrity.

As I was saying, since most of this approaches to the "Spanish Issue" are rather pessimistic, I decided to follow a different path, and focus on the reasons why I believe I am going to find not just a job but a job that fulfills my expectations, realistically accepting that maybe salaries haven't increased the way we all expected a few years ago (It is also true that the price index has gone down, so the real buying power may even not have been affected). A thorough search, proactive use of ALL the resources available, intensive in time and effort search, drive, stamina and self-convincing attitude may have not even been necessary all at once during the good times. Now this is only a pre-requisite to start the search. Call it exhaustive (the job search is a job in itself) but nothing undoable. So far so good?

The criticism up to here is quite obvious and the aforementioned is already written in many "find-your-dream-job" books. Besides, there is no job for everybody...But, are other variables considered? Meaning, are people looking into the possibility of considering: a different town or city or region for the needed/expected/deserved job? A different industry in which their capabilities can also be useful? To create your own job and become an entrepreneur? To propose formulas in which an employer can be less reluctant to hire (part time jobs, a voluntary lowering in the salary)?

Out in the street one listens to people, the shelter of deciding to study something seems to be the most suitable way for many to pass these bad times...but haven´t many just surrender to the "unemploymentality"under the comfortability of the unemployment salary? (low in comparison with other eurocountries but enough to have a decent living in most parts of Spain).

Let me just leave this question lingering in the air, and let me also add something else: the family and kinship's strong influence in Spain: it clearly becomes the soft cushioning for the falling of many not contemplated in the figures that is letting the country free from any social riot or protest whatsoever. Whereas you couldn´t even contemplate this option in many other western countries, the newspapers are full of stories about families coming back to their parents´house.

Last, but not least is the underground economy in Spain that, for some is keeping active to one third of the officially unemployed population. The Ministry of job affairs affirmed that between 16% and 20% of Spain's GDP is the size of the underground economy...

So, to summarize: people are broken, unemployed and not even (longer) looking to reverse this situation in some (many) cases because:

- The unemployment salary covers their basic needs and more, depending on where you live.

- The family structure creates a network in which sons, daughters, cousins...can always come back to the nest and have temporary financial support or shelter.

- The underground economy is providing an income to many families, benefiting also from the unemployment salary in many cases.

- On top of that, although this can be challenged as everything written in this blog, is the conformism and reluctance to change of the people of Spain, the worst enemies we have always had. The crisis provoked diverse reactions in the countries, whereas some (Germany, USA) where driven by a non acceptation of a potential downfall and fought to recover at the earliest, I have the impression that Spain has always perceived this crisis as a storm: It can be more or less strong and harmful, but it passes and then comes the sun and as if nothing had happened.

With all the above, and again, not forgetting that I have been raised in an environment that allows me to be in a position where I can choose to some extend where and how I want to work, I believe that others in my situation should push to the limit their chances and avoid being conformist. Better times won't come if we think this is just a storm.

Yesterday I attended Laetitia Sadier's concert at Sala Neu, it was amazing to see her with just her guitar and unveiling the way she probably starts composing her songs for Stereolab. The song I'm posting today is called Un soir, un chien.


  1. Tienes razón, hoy día aveces hay que ser creativo--hay que buscar oportunidades en otras regiones o ciudades o en otros sectores, o como dices aveces es mejor fundar su propia empresa. Pero con esta mentalidad estoy seguro que tendrás éxito. ¡Suerte con tu búsqueda, y avísanos lo que pasa!

  2. Hola Nabeel!

    Si, la creatividad es lo único que hoy por hoy puede marcar la diferencia, con tanta gente muy preparada. Te iré informando de cómo va todo, espero que estés bien, un abrazo!