How to create a spot-on Spanish CV

Right now in Spain a good CV can be the difference between landing a dream job and having to continue the search. The Local has put together a list of dos and don'ts to help expats in Spain stand out from the crowd.

How to create a spot-on Spanish CV
If you can speak languages, flaunt them on your CV. Photo: Victor1558/Flickr

Include a photo: Spanish employers like to put a face to a name, so make sure you include a photo of yourself looking professional in the top corner of your resumé. “Using a photo of you having a pint in an Irish pub or wearing sunglasses at a birthday party isn't going to send out the right message,” says Abdona Mitsuko, recruiter at international headhunting agency Signium.

Bullet point format: The Spanish may love the flowery language of Cervantes or García Lorca, but when it comes to CVs, they tend to prefer them as factual as possible. “The best way to describe job responsibilities on a Spanish CV is by using bullet points,” argues Mitsuko.

Language skills: If you can speak them, then flaunt them on your CV. Samia Zeriahene, Senior Consultant at recruitment agency Euro London Appointments, says: “If someone is bilingual it’s important we see that at the top. It’s good to point out which language is your mother tongue and also your levels in other languages, whether it's intermediate or advanced etc.”

Be transparent: “Giving the reasons why you've changed job in the past gives you more credibility,” argues Abdona Mitsuko. “ Whether it’s because of corporate restructuring or because your partner has been relocated abroad, give valid reasons.”

Be up to date: “I've seen cover letters that were dated back to 2010!" Mitsuko jokes. "Not a good idea as it gives employers the impression the applicant is careless.”

Lost in translation: Many job titles or job jargon can be difficult to translate into Spanish. It may be worth double-checking your CV with a professional translator or at least getting a native Spanish speaker to spot any possible howlers. Sometimes it’s best to stick to English words like marketing or headhunting rather than opt for a Spanish translation that is rarely used.

Social media: "LinkedIn is a very useful tool with which to reach out to prospective employers", says Mitsuko. "If you have a profile, make sure you include a link to it on your electronic CV."

Not too personal: "Include your date of birth rather than your age", Mitsuko recommends. "Unless your hobbies or interests are very specific to the job in hand, it's best to stick to the purely professional."

Don't hide where you come from: In the desperate hope of increasing their chances of getting a job it may be tempting for some foreign nationals from outside the EU to avoid making their nationality clear on their CV, especially if they don’t have working papers. Don’t do it, says Samia Zeriahene. “It's not good to hide it and it’s not necessary. If they have American nationality or they are from somewhere else outside EU it is preferable to write that the candidate has a work permit.”

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Do I have to take most of my annual leave in August in Spain?

Many Spanish companies still expect their workers to take their holidays at specific times of the year, primarily in August, right in the height of summer when many hotels are fully booked. So what are your rights, are you obliged to take your vacation in one particular month?

Do I have to take most of my annual leave in August in Spain?

While it’s your right as an employee to be able to take holiday days, do you have to take them when your company wants you to take them, or are you able to choose and have more flexibility?

Despite August being one of the hottest months in Spain and the one month of the year when many official companies and offices shut up shop, not everyone necessarily wants to take their break at the same time as everyone else.

Taking your holidays in August means less availability in hotels, overcrowding and more expensive transport and accommodation. If you don’t have children who are off from school during the summer months, then you may wish to take your vacation days at another time of the year, when it’s less busy and cheaper.

To answer the question it’s important to know the details about what the law says about how paid time off is taken, requested, imposed, or granted.

What laws or regulations dictate the rules about paid holiday time?

There are three different sets of rules and regulations, which are responsible for regulating the laws on vacation time in Spain. 

Firstly, you need to look at the Spanish Workers’ Statute, which includes rights, duties and obligations applicable to all salaried workers in Spain.

Secondly, you need to be aware of the collective sector and/or company agreements, which may dictate the rules for a particular industry for example.

Thirdly, you need to look at the contract, which you signed with your employer when you started working for them. This sets out your individual circumstances and the rules you must abide by.   

Workers Statute

As a general rule, all employees are subject to the Workers’ Statute. Holidays are part of this and are the subject of article 38. These conditions can never be contradicted by individual companies and are set as a guaranteed minimum. 

The minimum number of holidays in Spain is 30 calendar days per year. This equals two and a half days per month worked, in the case of temporary contracts. The statute states that vacations must be taken between January 1st and December 31st in separate periods, but one of them must be for at least two weeks. They are always paid and cannot be exchanged for financial compensation.

The period when you can take them is set by a common agreement between the employer and the worker, in accordance with what is established in the collective agreements on annual vacation planning. If there is disagreement, the social jurisdiction is resorted to.

At a minimum, the company must offer vacation days at least two months before the beginning of the holiday period, so that the employee has time to organise and book.   

When the planned time to take vacations coincides with a temporary disability, pregnancy, or childbirth, you have the right to enjoy the vacations at another time, even after the calendar year is over.

Collective agreements on vacations  

Your sector’s collective agreements may also help to answer this question. These aim to improve upon the basic and general rights that are included in the Workers’ Statute. They seek to adapt the rules to each type of industry or company. They could, for example, set out extra vacation days, which are greater than the standard 30 calendar days. 

You will need to find out what your specific sector or company’s collective agreement is. There is a possibility that your sector or company has mandatory summer vacations for the month of August and in that case, you can choose vacation dates, but only within this month.

Your work contract 

Lastly, you will need to consult your individual contract which you signed with the company when you were hired.  As well as the minimum conditions set out in the Workers’ Statute, your contract sets out your particular agreement with your employer in terms of holiday duration, the work calendar and other details.

Therefore, you should state in your contract whether you have to take your holidays during August, or if you’re free to take them at other times of the year.

If after consulting these three sets of regulations and there are still in doubt or in disagreement with your company about vacations, such as having to take them during the month of August, you should consult a lawyer specialising in labor law. They should be able to give you an answer specific to your situation.  

Can I appeal or disagree and what are the consequences? 

To appeal or express disagreement with what is proposed by the company, there is a period of 20 business days from when the vacation schedule is sent out, after which time you don’t have the right to show that you disagree.  

Companies can proceed to disciplinary dismissals due to abandonment of the job if you decide to take vacations that have not been granted or agreed upon with your employer. To avoid this type of problem, always make sure you have a record in writing of your request for vacation time and subsequent approval by the company.