Working in Rome?
Finding a Job in Rome
It’s All About Networking
If you are a “self-made” expat who’d like to start working in Rome outside an intra-company transfer, prepare for your job search to require some patience. Many Italian enterprises, especially smaller ones, are family businesses, and family generally plays a vital part in Italian life. With that background in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that personal contacts, networking, and recommendations are extremely important for job applicants.
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.
Unsolicited Applications: Si or No?
If you send unsolicited 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 the “unsolicited applications” approach, here are a number of Italian job search engines (offerte di lavoro) where you can find job vacancies for Rome. Unless you are planning to work for a large multi-national company, though, most ads will be in Italian, and you are expected 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 an open position to apply for, take care to consider common standards in Italy’s 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.
Don’t stint on cheap paper or plastic folders in garish colors! Instead, present your application as elegantly as possible. Sometimes, appearances do matter.
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”) mostly end up in the wastepaper basket.
Stress your personal qualifications and professional experience over your motivation. Your personal reasons for choosing a job or company don’t matter quite as much.
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, even though 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 diplomas in a neat folder in case that somebody wants to have a look now.
Also, prepare for the interview carefully. This does not only refer to the usual preparations (like reading up on the company): You have to cut a smart figure too. Rome is a fashionable environment. Even 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 normally a quiet person or belong to a culture where reserved demeanor is the norm, 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 appreciate about Rome. As a matter of course, job applicants should refrain from discussing religion, politics, and Italy’s social issues.
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