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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.