Finding a job in Chile

Believe it or not, I do actually receive e-mails at the handy dandy e-mail address posted to the right. I’ve gotten the occasional one that’s totally out of left field, but plenty come from other gringos who are thinking of making the big move down to Santiago or another part of Chile and have some questions. Most ask some version of “how do I get a job in Santiago if I don’t want to teach English?”

First of all, I’m going to be honest: there’s no point in asking where I work. I make a point of not mentioning it on my blog, and just because you send me an e-mail doesn’t mean that we are now real life friends who share secrets. Besides, I don’t know if my company is hiring, which is what interests most people.

That said, I have managed to find two non-English teaching or translating jobs in different industries with no formal studies in either field, so I have faith that other people can do it too. Here’s what I’ve learned about job hunting in Chile.

I even got to work with a superhero!
  • You will probably not find a job before you move here. Relax. I understand that moving to a new country with no job is scary, but you’ll be fine. You get 3 months on your tourist visa, and if that runs out you just take a little weekend trip across the border to Mendoza, Argentina and get a new 3 month visa when you come back. I moved here knowing that I could survive on savings for 6 months (we’re talking Santiago here, not New York, you can get by on pretty little) and gave myself that amount of time to find a job. It took less than a month. Did I get lucky? Yes, but I think most people will find something within a few months if they’re reasonably hire-able, even in the current economic climate. Unemployment has risen, but skilled workers aren’t the ones getting fired (other than in construction and mining, where everyone’s screwed).
Mendoza has great wine, you’ll like it, even if you only went for visa reasons.
Source:

  • Networking is CRUCIAL. This is true anywhere, but it’s especially true in Chile. The pituto is your friend. Pitutos are those little connections that get you something you want without having to go through normal channels, a little leg-up in life. Got a Chilean significant other? Make sure all his or her friends and relatives know you’re looking for a job. Tell everyone you meet. If you end up with an interview at the company where your host mom’s cousin that you met once at a party happens to work, don’t be shy about asking him to put a good word in for you. It might feel like you’re asking a huge favor, but to a Chilean it’s normal, and it helps.

  • Check job websites. I actually found my job with Needish through a job site. Two of the biggest are Zona Jobs and Trabajando. Needish has Needs from companies looking to hire people.
Needish also has some pretty sweet mugs.
Source:

  • Check the websites of major multinational companies. Know what you want to do and where you would want to work in your home country? Check their website to see if they’re hiring in Chile. Lots of companies now list their openings all over the world. One added bonus if you’re thinking you may move again in the future is that you’ll likely have the option to transfer offices.

  • Try a headhunter. I don’t know anyone who’s gone this route, but if you’re interested, here’s a list.

Of course there are also plenty of people who move here and have a passion for teaching English (or at least don’t mind doing it for a while to make ends meet). I know people who work at schools, those who work for institutes and some who only teach private classes. I don’t know anything about any of that, all I’ve heard is that some institutes are better than others, and only some will help you get a visa, so do your research. Translating is also an option, although if you’re new in town it’ll probably be hard to find a steady volume of work at first.

Hopefully if you’re someone looking for a job in Chile these tips will help you get started. In closing, let me just say one more thing about the e-mails I’ve gotten. I reply to everyone who e-mails me with this information, and I almost never receive any response. The gringo community in Santiago is not large enough to guarantee that we will never run into each other, and honestly I judge you when you can’t even shoot back a quick “thanks!” after I take time to send you something you should have been able to figure out on your own through common sense and the use of Google. So please, I love to help out, but when someone helps you it’s nice to show a little gratitude!

Alright, rant over. Now I’m off to see if I can
use these easy tips for getting a Chilean job to convince any of my US friends to come down to South America.

61 Responses to “Finding a job in Chile”

  1. Andrea says:

    1) you are hilarious in your "I will remember you if you don't bother to respond." So true and I totes agree. I hate when people don't offer a mere thanks in response! Sheesh!

    2) Um your job tips are super useful and I live here! Nicely done.

    3) This is neither here not here but we did like your banquetero!

  2. Emilyta says:

    AMEN! i used to always reply as well, and provide lengthy, happy responses to everyones questions. after literally 5% of people sent me something back (5% may be a little high actually) i started getting bitter and stopped being as helpful. sorry new people, i guess they will just have to find your blog! :)

  3. Matt says:

    Gah, the amount of long, helpful emails I send people is insane. And I get it from those just looking for basic stuff about Chile who've found my blogs and for work. People who don't bother to respond after sending them a tonne of info annoy the hell out of me, it's just so frigging disrespectful…

  4. Kristin says:

    That's one of my HUGE pet peeves–when you go out of your way to help someone and they can't even be bothered to write back or acknowledge your email

  5. Natalie says:

    Long-time lurker here. Don't think I've commented before, not out of rudeness but out of shyness… I'm just not used to commenting on things. But I feel compelled because I want to say thanks for the really, really useful post. And indeed your whole blog. We're moving to Valpo/Vina in January and while OH has a job (the reason why we're moving, in fact), I am still very much searching for work. I promise promise promise that if I email you I'll reply! I can't believe how rude people can be! Hope all the wedding preparations are going well.

  6. Sara says:

    It is really hard to find a job in Chile because as you state it's almost impossible to have one lined up before you arrive which is something that scares the crap out of most people. I have one friend who successfully found a job through a headhunter. She sent me the list, but the guy who called me back wanted to use me for some tourist booth at a mall. No thanks. I've had some success finding non-English teaching jobs, but I usually find that they pay less because with the teaching if I want to, and I'm willing to work a lot, I can make a lot of money for Chile. That being said I've worked for a few bad institutes along the way. Fortunately, the one I am with now is fairly organized and professional.

    That sucks about the people you have helped. I think all of the people who have asked me questions have written back again and again. Our blogs probably just attract different types of people.

  7. Emily says:

    Glad some of these ideas were helpful! Leana, thanks for adding yours.

    Sara, my whole point is that in my experience (and that of friends), it's actually NOT that hard to get a job here. Getting a job is never easy, but I don't think it's particularly hard in Chile, it just might seem that way at first because it's different. I don't know about money, since I've never taught English…I do feel like overall the people I know who teach English tend to be more stressed about money, but that could be because with canceled classes you never know how much you're going to make vs. having a fixed salary.

  8. Amanda says:

    Haha, I got plenty of jobs in Chile, just nothing that I actually wanted to do. Wish I had found this list in May of 2007! Now at least you'll be helping those who go after us.

  9. h0tfudg3 says:

    Just wondering if it is possible to find work in Chile, if i don't speak spanish at all? Or if you have any contacts at all?

  10. Anonymous says:

    great information! gracias! I am currently looking for a job but it hasn't been easy, thanks for your ideas. I think I have a lot of skills that would help me find a good job but I just decided to start studying at night. I think you can build up a good network of people by enrolling in a good university.

  11. Sarah says:

    My significant other and I are planning to move to Chile in January 2012, and I’ve honestly found your blog so helpful. I’ve pretty much read it from beginning to end, and your final “rant” in this post just reminded me to say thank you. I just wanted to be a reminder that your blog has an even greater purpose than you probably initially imagined. Such an amazing and entertaining resource. So, thank you.

    • Emily says:

      Sarah, you’re so sweet! I’m glad that I’ve been helpful and flattered that you’ve found it entertaining.

  12. sarah says:

    Thanks for the advice, it’s very encouraging. I’m a nurse in California and plan to move to Santiago in September and hope that finding a job (not necessarily a nursing one) won’t be too tough. I will get my English teaching certification, but am just worried about the time of year being difficult to find work. but i’m resourceful :) thanks again for posting.

  13. Evelyn says:

    Hi. I also found your blog very helpful and “thank you!” for sharing. I have lived in Houston, Texas for the past 25 years but I am originally from Chile. I have dual citizenship. The reason I would like to return to Chile, particularly to Santiago, is because my mother is here. I am very afraid of moving back after being gone so long, not having a job. I am 46 and have experienced in many fields in the area of administrative assistant. I have also worked as a real estate agent for 7 years and have recently graduated with a BS in applied mathematics. Do you think I could have a future in Chile and I could make it as a single woman, with one income? I am fluent in both Spanish and English (both spoken and written). Thanks for the advice… really… THANKS! Evelyn

    • Emily says:

      I don’t have any insider info in any of those fields, but in general I don’t see any problem with a single professional making it on his or her income alone. I would probably feel richer if it weren’t for my husband eating me out of house and home! Hopefully the job sites I linked in the post can give you and idea of what’s out there for someone with your background, and definitely get your mom telling everyone she knows that you’re going to be looking for a job soon.

  14. James says:

    Finding job and immigration information of Chile is not as easy as like USA or Canada. At this point, your blog serves a good role. So far, how hard it will be to manage a job in Chile from overseas? I am a Banker with 4 1/2 years of experience. Please share your valuable experience and opinion.

    • Emily in Chile says:

      Immigration information is all available on the Extranjería website. As far as your job search goes, in general it’s hard to find things until you’re in the country, and Spanish is key if you’re hoping to work in personal banking. Good luck!

  15. James says:

    Thanks for your valuable advice. Hope I shall get your informative support which will ultimately help me to breath the fresh air of Pacific & Andes!

  16. Lauren says:

    Thank you so much for the tips! Honestly, everything you said I kind of suspected was going to be the case, but it was nice to have someone who knows what they’re talking about verify it all. ¡Muchísimas gracias!

  17. Florida81 says:

    Recently moved to Santiago from Florida. Just wanted to say thanks for posting the job hunting tips. Very helpfull. Rock on.

  18. tee says:

    Hi Emily,thanks for taking ur time in helping out. Merry xmas and happy new year in advance. Am from Nigeria and would like to teach English for a while in Chile, do u think a non English native will be employable in chile?

  19. […] teach English, as Chileans highly value native speakers, but the pay is low. Emily gives tips on finding a job in Chile that you might find useful. If you have any other tips, add them to the comments in her post or […]

  20. James Mayo says:

    Thank you for taking the time to put this information together. I moved to Valparaiso 6 weeks ago and have been learning spanish during that time. Its now time to look for work in the Eco / Design area. Maybe some of your links will help. Many thanks.

  21. Vaibhav says:

    Hahahha… Loved reading this post. Am from India and quiet interested in the opportunities that South America has to offer. Recently started learning spanish as well.. May be post my MBA I head there instead of the conventional options of 1st world countries! Though really appreciate your updates and it’s fun reading your experiences… Cheers! :)

  22. Ali says:

    You might try http://www.milavisos.cl/empleos seems like a new website but has many interesting job offers across Chile

    • Emily in Chile says:

      Ooh, good tip! Thanks for sharing.

      • tanja says:

        dear Emily
        thank you very much for all given info!
        we are family of 4(kids,2 and 4) and looking to move to Chile from Serbia, Europe.
        I am English language teacher and my husband is forestry engineer. What do you think are chances are to get jobs and settle there?
        Thank you ever so much!
        Tanja

        • Emily in Chile says:

          There are plenty of English teaching jobs, but I honestly don’t know about the kind of salaries or stability an established professional could expect vs. people who are just native speakers using teaching as a way to live abroad. There is a developed forestry industry here, although that may involve living outside of Santiago. I think your best bet will be to look at some job websites and possibly contact a headhunter for your husband. Good luck!

  23. Rodrigo says:

    Thanks for all the information. It’s a great text to when one is in the search of paths like me. I am seriously considering taking advantage of my double citizenship (Canadian-Chilean) and probably spend the next couple of years to be just in swimming season. :)

  24. Kareem says:

    Hi Emily :)
    let me first thank you from the middle east about your useful info regarding work in chile.. actually i am an egyptian guy 24 years old and i only speak arabic as a mother tongue and english as a second language.. i dont know if i will have the same work chances like others from the USA or i will have a very limited opportunities.. for me moving to chile is going to be settling there forever and applying for the nationality
    so what would you advice an egyptian guy who only studied finance BUT willing to work in any field even in fishing as i used to when i was studying :)

    Thank you so much your a very energetic and positive person

    Cheers

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I would focus on learning Spanish as well as you can before you move. I do have friends here who’ve come speaking good English as a second language and just been learning Spanish, but it’s definitely harder for anyone here who doesn’t speak good Spanish since it so limits who you can work with. Good luck!

  25. Marissa says:

    Did you know Spanish before coming to Chile? Seems like a lot of jobs require you to speak Spanish. I know some, but not enough to say I am even close to fluent…

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I did, and they do for the most part. Which I think is fair considering I don’t know of many jobs in the US that don’t require fluent English. Time to start learning!

      • Tatyana says:

        Hi Emily, I just found your blog, right on time!

        I am moving from Washington DC to Santiago de Chile pretty soon, the only thing I am concern about is how/where do I find a place to live while I do my job search. I have a vast work experience (Washington DC & New York City) I speak and write Spanish and English fluently. I admire Chile for its economic growth given the size of its territory and natural resources. I definitely recognize the level of education and spirit of progress of their people. Remarkable.
        I will appreciate if you can provide some insights. Thank you.

        With regards,

        Tatyana

  26. Antonio says:

    Hi Emily , I find your blog and I think it’s a big resource.
    I am a web designer / developer with 12 years experience , I’ll plan to move in Santiago with my peruvian girlfriend , I am Italian native.
    What about the market of IT in Chile? Does Santiago have good market or job offers? What do you think about quality of life in Chile? Thanks “gringa” … :)

    • Emily in Chile says:

      I don’t know anything about the IT market in Chile – check out some of the job websites linked in this post and the comments for the most up-to-date information. Good luck!

  27. Christopher Ries says:

    I just wanted to say thanks for the tips. unfortunately I am a chiropractor who has sent out many CV to local area chiropractors and the associations for professionals. No luck! Arrggghhhh!
    To move there with my family could be a bit difficult otherwise I would dive in head first. I would be willing to take any Job. Picking Apples, Taxi driver, basically any job to make sure I get out from this disaster called Europe. Any suggestions. Thanks in advance!

    regards,

  28. Diman says:

    Thanks for the tips! Thinking of moving to Chile. I work as a designer for an architecture firm in the states right now. Do these tips apply for non-Spanish speaking folks as well or are we basically out of luck until we learn Spanish?

  29. chad says:

    Useful tips. Im seriously considering moving to chile to get away from the disaster the u.s. will be in a short time. I currently work for a KIA dealership as an auto technician. I plan on learning spanish and was curious if you knew anything of the automotive industry…?

  30. Jianshan says:

    Hello Emily, i feel very lucky to find your blog because you do offer a lot of useful information. Thank you for that. Recently I have been thinking about writing to you but i am not sure if you have the answers for my questions. But anyway i am writing to you in the hope of getting a direction to go. I am a Chinese girl who graduated with honors from university last July. I speak English, Cantonese and Mandarin, sadly no Spanish, but i am learning. I want to work in Chile but it seems more difficult than you guys. I am not sure if i can apply for a tourist visa to find a job there and then transfer the visa to the work type. Because Chile seems to want an employment certificate from Chinese citizens when they are applying a tourist visa. I have difficulties to find out more information since they are mostly written in Spanish. If i am going to Chile to look for a job, i will have to quit the the job i am having. Or should i just look for jobs online and wait until i get the contract? I think that might take ages. I have checked out forums of “Chinese in Chile”, but none of them solved my question. I saw some job posts there but they are mainly for cooks and Spanish-speakers. I am getting frustrated. I even tried to message the local on CouchSurfing. But i haven’t got any useful replies yet. Would you kindly check out my profile in Linked in and let me know what do you think about it all? I mean the possibility of me getting a job there. Here is the link: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jianshan-chen/94/54a/151 What’s your suggestion? Should i start to contact the local & companies from Linked in? Thank you for your time and i would appreciate anything from you.

  31. Kim says:

    Hey :)
    This post was most useful – thank you.

    I wanted to let you know that I also had some luck with the classified ads on the Santiago Times website (http://classifieds.santiagotimes.cl). Most of the readers are English, and the ads are posted by/seen by businesses that are either English, or are interested in working with English people.

    Thought this might help anyone who is still looking…
    Thanks again!
    Kim

  32. Crystal says:

    Hi Emily,

    First I love the title Don’t call me Gringa.. I feel like this is something you hear a lot. I have a few South American friends in Chicago that love the word. Interesting read, I am planning to move there but obviously it’s pretty nerve racking to make such a big move with as many uncertainties like not having a job or place to live. I have a few questions I would love if you could answer for me.. Did you speak any spanish prior to moving? I speak very beginner spanish and I’m hoping this doesn’t deter me from getting a good job. I read your notes on finding a good job like networking a ton, but the language barrier scares me. I would like to get a job with a good company, get experience and utilize my degree in Marketing. Second, did you buy a one way ticket to Santiago or round trip? I don’t want to get a roundtrip ticket if I intend on staying but I hear they will check for this. Also, When you first arrived did you already have a place to live or did you stay in temporary living until you found something more permanent? Lastly, I’m a girl traveling alone- as I believe you are too – have you had any safety concerns? Sorry to bombard you with questions, you’re the only person I’ve found that is in a situation as similar as mine. Thank you for you time!

    Crystal

  33. N.C. Cole says:

    Thank you very much for your blog, and all the info it contains. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately (my wife and I are moving to Santiago in December), and your site has consistently proven fair, clear and accurate in its presentation.

  34. Vimal Vincent says:

    Hi Emily……loved the blog and very useful information. I am from India and my wife from Chile and at the moment we are working in the Middle East ( Dubai ). We plan to move to Chile in the next 2 or 3 years time and our dream is to start a small organic farm along with a South Indian cafe. My question is if there are any indian suppliers or shops available in Chile providing supplies of spices , vegetables , fruits , etc ( especially coconut ) in wholesale or retail. Would be a great help if yourself or someone could help with this information. Thank you.

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