Working in Chile

Expats working in Chile will find themselves in one of the largest South American economies, and in a country that's well known for its stability and free-market approach.

That said, Chile is still faced with the challenge of diversifying its copper-dependent economy and eliminating a glaring wealth inequality. The mineral-rich mines have long been the bedrock of the country, but as the market continues to contract, it must make a move to support other sectors.

The job market in Chile

In Santiago, the country's capital and commercial hub, signs of life stir in the financial, computer technology and electronics industries. The city accounts for nearly half of the national economic output and is continuously asserting itself as an important South American trade centre.

A selection of Iarge multinationals, including HP, Intel, IBM, Yahoo, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Nestle, have set up shop here. Expats planning on working in Chile may find that a company transfer to one of these business giants, or a similar institution, is the easiest way to find employment in the country. The financial and tourism sectors are also showing signs of steady growth and have the potential to provide opportunities to eager expats.

Alternatively, many expats in Chile find work in the English language sector. Teaching jobs remain at a surplus, and some local language institutes are willing to hire applicants who don't have any certifications or teaching experience. Having CELTA or TEFL accreditation is always helpful, though, and those interested in teaching in the formal education sector will need a teaching degree.

Finding a job in Chile

In Chile, personal relationships are key and they're used to get information and conduct business. It's often necessary to have a connection (pituto) to help a prospective employee get their foot in the door and, in many cases, job opportunities are not even published because the hiring party would rather work through personal recommendations. Still, online portals are nevertheless worth a look expats on the hunt for a job.

Work culture in Chile

Spanish is the official language in Chile, but many highly skilled workers and mid-level managers speak English. Despite this, knowledge of the local language can open the door to more work opportunities, and even those fluent in European Spanish may need to take a few Chilean Spanish lessons upon arrival as the regional nuances of the language require practice.

Above all else, though, expats working in Chile may be most taken aback by the long working hours. The Latin American lust for life doesn't stop locals from putting in well above the 45-hour work week required by law, one of the highest in the world. Productivity doesn't seem to be proportionately affected by time spent on the clock, but nonetheless, the working day in Chile is typically long and often coupled with a long commute.

Expats will need a work permit to be legally employed in Chile; achieved by means of a signed job contract.