Finding steady work in Rome isn’t easy. Although the Italian economy has displayed some growth in recent years, unemployment remains high and even Italians find it hard to get jobs in particular professions.
Italian employers also prefer hiring Italian residents, or at least EU residents, as this means that they won’t need to bear the burden of completing work permit paperwork. In fact, expats dreaming of employment in the heartland of ancient civilisation should note that securing that first job in Italy is difficult. This is thanks to the country’s very tricky work permit and residence procedures that are required of non-EU residents seeking employment in Italy.
Job market in Rome
Rome has the highest concentration of expats in Italy, so foreigners should expect additional competition when it comes to landing a position in Rome. Speaking only English is no longer enough for expats looking to get secure work in Rome and many companies will not consider hiring an expat until they are reasonably proficient in Italian.
That said, expats who aren’t fluent in Italian can still find employment in Italy, especially if they have a desirable university qualification. In Italy, qualifications are held in high esteem and having a degree and experience in one’s home country will impress most employers. Those with marketing and communication degrees will have the most success in finding a job in Rome, as well as those who have worked in the business side of the hotel and tourism industry. Additionally, those who can demonstrate expertise in the digital realm, such as online marketing, fare well.
Non-skilled professions, such as waitressing, bartending and reception positions in hotels, resorts and hostels, are still available but are less common than they used to be in Rome. Expats applying for these types of positions will require basic Italian language skills if they want to put themselves ahead of the competition. Being proficient in an additional language, such as Japanese, French or German, can be a serious advantage when seeking employment in the tourism industry in Rome.
A certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from an accredited agency is almost always necessary for expats looking to teach English in Rome. Those with a TEFL qualification and teaching experience are likely to land a job teaching English in Rome.
Finding a job in Rome
For non-EU residents, the best course of action is to obtain a position before leaving their home country. Intra-company transfers do provide opportunities, as do multinational companies that regularly hire foreigners.
Expats should pinpoint potential companies they’d like to work for, and then consult the 'jobs' section of the individual companies' websites.
For those looking for something a little less corporate, there are online and storefront recruitment and volunteer agencies that will secure the first job for expats in Rome. This is usually in language schools, as au pairs or within the tourism industry. Expats going this route should ensure that the agency is accredited and trustworthy before signing up. These agencies usually require some sort of financial contribution from the applicant for their services.
Expats can peruse the job sections of local newspapers, a few of which are in English. Online job portals are also a good place to search, while registering with a job centre in Rome can also be an effective way of getting a foot in the door.
Work culture in Rome
Rome is a big city and there are more expats than jobs in most industries. As a result, employers have been known to take advantage of expats, especially non-EU residents. Accepting a position without a residency permit (permesso di soggiorno) is extremely inadvisable as it is impossible to seek any legal assistance if the employer underpays, abuses employee rights or refuses to pay altogether.
In Rome, more than anywhere else in Italy, it is important to be charismatic and enthusiastic during job interviews. Romans are sociable and are more likely to overlook formal education or Italian language proficiency if the applicant is someone who they have a good first impression of, and who appears to have admirable and interesting reasons for wanting to work in Rome. Expats should be mindful that Rome still has a relatively high unemployment rate for a European city, and friends and family often take precedence over foreigners when openings do become available.
►Read Doing Business in Italy for insights into Italian business culture
►For more on working legally in this European country, see Work Permits for Italy
"I think to really penetrate the layers of the Italian society you really have to go the extra mile in understanding their culture and speaking their language." Learning the language and understanding business culture could be key to working in Rome. Read more in Ernesto's interview.
"If you are here on a contract with a foreign company or NGO you will do well." Read Camilla's interview for more on working in Rome.
Are you an expat living in Rome?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Rome. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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