What do you need? A thick skin. Just kidding. Actually… I’m not. Salou is made up of an assortment of people but the majority are holiday makers who couldn’t care less how many hours that day you’ve already worked and get pretty upset when their well done, 1/2 kilo, T-Bone steak doesn’t arrive at their table in 5 minutes. On the plus side, working anywhere in Spain guarantees you time to top up your tan and drink a lot! Here’s a list of stuff you need to work in Salou, Spain.
First, some location information. Salou is considered the tourist capital of Costa Daurada, situated on the North coast of Spain. The advantages to such a location? Well… the Northern beaches are thought to be cleaner and less party centric than their southern counterparts. I myself can’t say between the two as I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the South yet, however I spent a wonderful week on the Costa Brava (also North coast) last month and outside of Salou, on the Costa Daurada everything is very laid back.
Salou is a great place for English speakers to find work. It’s even easier if you’re Irish. In every bar and restaurant we visited they wanted English speaking workers. The art of getting a job is as simple as this…
ASK EVERYONE FOR A JOB.
In our first couple of days, we spent most of our money on having drinks in bars where we were asking for jobs (and using their internet). Low and behold, we found work. The friends we made landed us with two very good jobs, but as much as we thought this would be the hard part, the worst was yet to come.
So what do you need to work in Salou, Spain?
1. Three very important personality traits…
High-Energy/Gumption – From the 1st July to 2nd August I worked 225 hours. I was fortunate in that I received four days off in this period. Most employers expect you to work every single day and most places have you on salary. This salary can work out as measly as 35 euros a day for 12 hour shifts.
These long days are spent running around in temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius. Often you work until the early hours of the morning and are expected to return at 9AM or 10AM to open the restaurant/bar/shop again. This year, Salou has been quiet and most employers are having a hard time filling their establishments and therefore have less staff so you can guarantee that you will be doing more than one man’s work in a day.
If you end up in a propping job, though it is boring you will probably get the most desirable hours. If you are propping for a restaurant you will most likely work four hours in the morning (10AM until 2PM) and then for three to four hours in the evening (7PM until 11PM). This gives you a good five hours in the middle of the day to do what you want and you can still go out after work with your new expat mates!
Confidence – This is probably the most important of the three personality traits. Without it you won’t really get anywhere OR have a good experience. I found that having the confidence to talk openly about what I want from the job and my expectations made it easier for me to settle in and there were no hidden agendas or secrets between me and my boss. This was particularly helpful when sorting the mess that was my wages at the end of the month.
The days where I was feeling shy were probably my worst days at work. The days where I threw myself out there and embarrassed myself with my pitiful Spanish were the most rewarding. By trying to converse with the locals in their language I found myself learning more Spanish than I ever thought possible, and now I can successfully order things in restaurants without pointing at pictures.
Patience – If you’re not a patient person then Salou is probably not for you. You will be faced with some of the most infuriating and idiotic people you have ever met and you need to know how to keep your cool TO KEEP YOUR JOB.
Some places will also struggle to pay you on time. I have no idea why, it just seems to be recurring theme in Salou. I waited two weeks after terminating my contract for 500 euros of my last months wage. She then tried to fob me off with a cheque. No, thank you.
Patience is key. Getting your NIF number is probably the hardest, most frustrating thing you’ll ever do in life. You can read all about it right now.
2. A NIF Number
To work legally in Spain, you need a NIF number. In a kind of back to front system, getting your NIF number can be really bloody hard. You’re supposed to visit the police station, get forms to visit the bank, pay your fee and return to the police station the next day to pick up your final papers.
Of course, my experience with getting my NIF number was drawn out over a month and was processed in a completely different way to everybody else. That’s just how Zoe does it.
If you’re visiting the police station in Tarragona, I highly recommend you arrive at 7AM, despite the office not actually opening until 9AM. Between 8AM and 8.30AM a police officer will make his way down the line with numbers written on cards and if you don’t get one of these then you don’t get seen and you have to return the next day, and the day after that… and the day after that. Until you get a card.
On my first visit, I arrived at 10AM (obviously too late) but I’m glad because if I had stood for two hours without the correct personal papers I would have been PISSED. Which brings me to my next point. You need your passport and your pre-contract. That’s right… you need a job, before you can get your NIF number, which you need before you start work. Confused? Yeh, me too.
The next time I went, I found that foreigners get put into a separate queue and are seen pretty quickly. I had number 31 but I was the second person seen. Weirdly, the lady who works behind the desk for international applications doesn’t speak English, so when she failed to give me the papers I needed to pay the fee at the bank, I needed to recruit a poor passerby as a translator.
The next day I went back to see The Big Boss and he gave me the papers I needed. I paid my fee (about 9 euros) and then returned to pick up my NIF number.
After 6 attempts at getting my NIF number I was feeling pretty glad it was all over. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to get it, it’s not a quick hour out of your day. I know people that have been stuck waiting in queues in the sun for over three hours.
3. Comfortable Shoes
Now I say this with a SERIOUS FACE. If you’re on your feet for over nine hours a day, you’re going to want some trainers. Don’t come to Salou equipped with just sandals and flowy dresses. I didn’t think I would want to wear closed shoes in this heat, but the alternative of blisters between your toes and a bad back caused by flat flip flops was much less desirable.
Funnily enough, you need very little to work in Spain if you’re already a European Citizen (and I’m aware this doesn’t help those of you that aren’t. I’m very sorry 😦 ). The list of things that you thought you would need that you actually don’t need is probably longer. Things like: CVs, a Spanish bank account, formal clothing, experience of any kind, knowledge of the Spanish language. They’re not really necessary.
If you’re thinking about coming over for work and you don’t really know WHERE in Spain you want to settle (which is exactly what we were having trouble with) then Salou is a pretty good bet. However, I would arrive at the end of May or start of June to guarantee a decent job.
I would also check out RJP entertainment, as I hear they get a pretty sweet deal with their accommodation and a pretty good wage. They start advertising on Twitter when they’re looking for staff and they hold interviews and auditions in England.
Accommodation is pretty expensive in the summer months so check out my post about how we found a way around paying upwards of £1000 per month for a tiny bedroom here.
And that’s pretty much all you need to work in Spain 🙂 Simples.
Keep an eye on Moomads as I bring you up to speed with tourism in Tarragona and the breakdown of July’s expenses (and incomes!).