Working in Italy?
Etiquette and the Job Search in Italy
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. Italy’s gender pay gap is, however, one of the smallest in the EU, standing at 5.5%, compared with an EU average of 16.3%. 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.
Traditional Business Etiquette
Most Italians 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 it comes to business situations, things are taken seriously.
If you are unsure of how to act when dealing with Italian business partners, then read the following points carefully:
- Italians tend to prefer doing business with people whom they know and trust.
- Italians value hierarchy; they respect power and age.
- If you are in a meeting, do not always expect an agreement to be reached. Meetings are generally more about brainstorming and exchanging ideas.
- In northern Italy, people often get down to business immediately, while in southern Italy small talk precedes most 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 by their outward appearance.
- Don’t schedule meetings in August, as many businesses close for this summer month.
- Be punctual to meetings in the north. In the south, arriving 15 minutes late is generally not a problem.
- If you are invited to a business lunch or dinner, dress formally and bring your host a gift.
Speak Italian & Be Well-Connected
There are two key aspects for finding work in Italy: speaking Italian and networking. While there are of course the usual job sites that can be used worldwide, such as Monster and JobOnline, relationships are definitely valued in Italy, making it very important to build up a good network of contacts. This can be difficult if you do not speak much Italian, especially as English is not generally spoken as widely, or to as high a standard, as in many other European nations.
If you plan on moving to Italy but have not yet secured a job, then a good short-term solution for native English speakers is to teach English for a while. Many language schools throughout Italy are frequently looking for new teachers, and it gives you a chance to get settled and meet new contacts, while earning some money.
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