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Working in Rome
Find out how to get a job and work in Rome
Are you considering a job in Rome as the next step in your career path? For more about what the Italian business world has to offer you, from the economy, to job hunting, and working hours, read our guide to working in Rome.
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Employment in Rome
At a Glance:
- Italy is the world’s eighth largest economy and the fourth largest economy in the Eurozone.
- The services sector employs the highest number of people in Rome, particularly in banking, finance, and real estate.
- In 2016, the average number of hours worked by employees in Italy was 40.6 hours per week.
- For state pensions, mandatory contributions are 33% of an employee’s gross salary. Your employer covers the bulk of this (28.31%), while the remaining 9.19% is deducted from the employees’ paycheck.
The Economic Climate
For many expats, the idea of working in Rome is, on the one hand, enticing, yet at the same time comes with some drawbacks.
With an ever-increasing public debt, the government’s budget deficit, and stagnating foreign investment, expats considering a move may be concerned about the state of the Italian economy. At the same time, however, Italy has seen gradual economic growth — the economy has advanced by 1.5% in 2017 — and a decreasing unemployment rate. Italy still has the eighth largest economy in the world, and the fourth largest in the Eurozone, contributing approximately 2.46% of the world economy. Many Italians are rightfully proud of the high-quality products created in the nation’s many small and medium enterprises.
The Italian economy is based almost entirely on small or medium-sized, often family-run, businesses, and they contribute around 70% of the entire GDP. Although it may be difficult for expats to join a small, family-run business, there are plenty of other opportunities when it comes to working in Rome.
Fashion, Tourism, and High-Tech
While much of the industry is concentrated in the north of the country, there are many employment opportunities in Rome’s chemical and pharmaceutical sectors, or in the high-tech and aerospace industries, with their R&D facilities. It should be noted that vehicle engineering, electrical engineering, machinery and equipment, and the chemical industry were all affected by the recession and the subsequent decreased domestic consumption — but recovery is slowly taking place.
It is the services sector that is the big employer for most people working in Rome, in fields including finance, banking, and real estate. General business services — e.g. tax consulting, logistics, or HR management — also provide many jobs in the city. The national capital is also the home of several big employers that used to be owned by the Italian government, such as the electric utility provider Enel, one of the leaders in the energy business. For the creative expats, there are also roles in the media and fashion industries. As one of the world’s most visited cities, working in Rome’s thriving tourism industry could be another option for expats.
Opportunities of the Future
Another chance for expats who want to work in Rome could be the air and ground support industry. According to the Masterplan Fiumicino Nord, Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Fiumicino will be gradually expanded from four to eight terminals during the next three decades. This should create new jobs for those working in Rome’s flagging construction industry, as well as in infrastructure planning, logistics, and air support.
If you’re interested in working in Rome, you will be glad to hear that the city has the second highest average income in Italy, right after Milan. It also has a lower cost of living than its perennial rival in Lombardy.
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Finding a Job in Rome
It’s All About Networking
If you are a “self-made” expat and have decided yourself that you would like to start working in Rome, prepare for your job search to require a little patience. Many Italian businesses, especially smaller ones, are family businesses, and family very often plays a vital part in Italian life. With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that personal contacts, networking, and recommendations are extremely important for expats looking for a job.
Unfortunately, networking in another country is hard from abroad, but not impossible. The Italian Chamber of Commerce in your home country is a good stepping stone for building a business network in Rome. Conversely, you can make sure to attend events at your chamber of commerce in Rome during a business visit or fact-finding trip to Italy.
At the moment, France, Germany, and the US, as well as Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, and the UK are Italy’s most important trading partners in import and export. If you are a national from one of these countries or speak its language fluently, this could increase your chance to land a job in commerce.
Speculative Applications: Si or No?
If you send speculative applications, job hunting will be difficult unless you know another person working for the same company in Rome. At least try to make personal contact via phone: talk directly to the person who’ll be responsible for handling your application, and leave a (hopefully positive) impression.
If you don’t have the patience for “speculative applications”, there are a number of Italian job search engines (offerte di lavoro) where you can look for job vacancies for Rome. Unless you are planning to work for a large multi-national company, though, most ads will be in Italian, and most positions expect you to have at least a decent grasp of business Italian:
- Jobsin Rome (advertises positions in companies that use English as their main working language)
Preparing the Perfect Application
Once you have found a position to apply for, take care to consider common standards in the Italian business world when writing your application. It should consist of a relatively succinct cover letter and a one-page CV (two pages at most). You needn’t attach either your picture or your diplomas and references.
Your cover letter should be addressed to the specific person in charge of the application process. Applications that begin with a generic “Egregio Signore, Gentile Signora” (“dear Sir or Madam”) can often end up in the trash.
If you mention the grades you’ve achieved in a degree course or on a training certificate anywhere (e.g. on your CV), be sure to include the Italian equivalent as a matter of courtesy. For obvious reasons, always specify how good your Italian skills are — but be honest: if you claim to be fluent when you clearly aren’t, this will quickly be exposed during the interview!
How to Nail an Interview
If you make it to an interview for a job in Rome, congratulations! Don’t forget to bring along your references and qualification certificates in a folder in case your potential employer wants to have a look.
As always, make sure to prepare for the interview carefully. This doesn’t just refer to the usual preparations, like reading up on the company. Rome is a fashionable environment. Job applicants are expected to have “la bella figura”, i.e. to be impeccably dressed, have a sense of style, and behave with self-confidence.
Even if you are a generally quiet person or are used to acting in a more reserved manner, you should try to break that habit. Friendly, outgoing, and assertive (though not aggressive) candidates are often those that will appeal spontaneously to Italian HR managers. Address the interviewers politely, with their full name and title, and if the opportunity for small talk arises, throw in a few genuine compliments for the things you like about Rome.
Working Conditions in Rome
No Need to Fear a Burnout
When you start a new job, one thing you may wonder about is your working hours. An average working day begins around 8:00 or 9:00 and ends at 18:00 or 19:00 — although as in most other countries, people in higher positions may be expected to stay at the office longer.
According to Eurostat, the average number of weekly hours of work in Italy in 2016 was 40.6 hours. This will obviously vary slightly depending on your field of employment and the company you work for; however, the legal standard is a 40-hour week. Together with overtime, your weekly working hours must not exceed 48 hours.
Extended lunch breaks of about two hours are becoming less widespread in Italy’s modern business world. There are still many Italians, though, who still enjoy a long business lunch out of the office. It is often seen as an important way of socializing with your colleagues, so don’t avoid these occasions.
Italy has a strong welfare state. In our guide to living in Rome, we have already described the Italian public healthcare system (servizio sanitario nazionale) at great length. Unless you decide to opt out of public health insurance, your employer in Rome will pay your SSN contributions for you.
In Italy, mandatory pension contributions stand at 33% of an employee’s gross salary. Your employer covers the bulk of this, paying 28.31% of the contributions, while 9.19% is paid by the employee themselves — it is deducted directly from your paycheck.
Everyone who has started gainful employment and pays mandatory pension contributions since 31 December 1995 is entitled to receive an old-age pension from the Italian government. They need to fulfill the following conditions, though:
- Be at least 66 years and 7 months (the minimum retirement age from 1 January 2018).
- Have made pension contributions for twenty years or more.
- Be no longer gainfully employed.
Social Security Agreements
If you are a national of an EU/EEA member state or if your country of origin has entered into a social security agreement with Italy, the pension contributions paid in Italy count towards your national pension back home. Any private pension plans are completely independent of this, of course.
In all other cases, you have to contact the INPS (Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale) to claim your Italian pension at the age of 70, provided you used to work in Italy for at least five years.
There are effective social security agreements between Italy and these countries:
- Argentina, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil
- Canada, the Cape Verde Islands, the Channel Islands, Croatia
- Israel, Macedonia, Mexico, Monaco
- San Marino, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey
- the US, Uruguay, Venezuela
Further Employee Benefits
In addition to the old-age pension, the INPS administers funds for sickness allowance and parental benefits, among other things. If you should fall ill during your time as an expat employee in Rome, you are entitled to sickness allowance, starting on the fourth day of your illness. Usually, the allowance amounts to one half or two thirds of your gross income. It is paid for up to 180 days per calendar year.
As a pregnant female employee, you have the right to take five months paid maternity leave from your job in Rome. In fact, you must stop working one or two months before the due date, and you aren’t supposed to return to work until your baby is three or four months old. During your maternity leave, you get 80% of your salary.
After these five months, parents can split 10 months of voluntary parental leave. Mothers are entitled to take a maximum of six months, while fathers can take seven. During the first six months of parental leave, you can receive 30% of your salary, but the rest of time will be unpaid.
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