Italy at a Glance
Etiquette and the Job Search in ItalyiStockphoto
For business meetings in Italy, you should present an impeccable, professional appearance.
Women and men have equal legal rights in Italy. However, it may be important for expat women to know that there are slight salary differences between men and women. On average, women working in Italy with a higher education degree earn up to 200 euro less than men with the same degree.
Concerning childbirth, women get a total of five months of paid maternity leave: two months before and three months after the birth of their child. Working women may not be fired for one year after the birth of their child. It is, however, expected of them to find childcare quickly after giving birth.
Italy is different in many things. Most people are very open and friendly, curious and sometimes a bit loud, which can be a little overwhelming for expatriates from some other cultures. Socially speaking, Italians are very laid back, but when you do business with them, they do mean business.
If you are unsure of how to act when dealing with Italian business partners, read the following points carefully. They may help guide you through your first encounter, ensuring that you do not make any grave mistakes:
- Italians prefer doing business with people whom they know and trust. Therefore it is not a bad idea to make use of third-party introductions.
- Italians place value in hierarchy; they respect power and age.
- If you are in a meeting, do not always expect an agreement to be reached. Meetings are more about brainstorming and exchanging ideas.
- In northern Italy, people often get down to business immediately, while in southern Italy small talk precedes any and all business talks. Be prepared to talk about your family and country of origin.
- Be sure that you are dressed impeccably, as Italians tend to judge people on their outward appearance.
- Do not plan on scheduling meetings in August, as many businesses close for the month.
- Be punctual to meetings in the north. In the south, arriving 15 minutes late is not that dramatic.
- If you are invited to a business lunch or dinner, dress formally and bring your host a gift.
Finding a Job
There are two key aspects for finding work in Italy: speaking Italian and networking. Without either of these, it is near impossible to get a job. Of course, there are the usual job sites that can be found in any city across the world (www.monster.it, www.jobonline.it, etc.). However, it is essential to have some sort of social network in order to survive in Italy at all.
As networking may take some time and requires you to be present in Italy, a good in-between solution for native English speakers is to teach English for a while. Most Italians do not have command of the English language on the same level as a native speaker.
A number of English schools which are spread throughout Italy frequently look for new teachers. The payment is not bad and working hours are flexible, so you have time to explore your new city and connect with people.