Mexico can be a challenging place for foreign nationals to find work, particularly if you are not highly experienced in a specialist field, have a sponsor/company offering you a contract and an excellent command of Spanish. Furthermore, networking and having contacts is very important. Sometimes it isn’t a case of what you know, but who you know. Teaching English and resort work are an alternative for those without strong language abilities.
Typical problems encountered: Poor command of Spanish is a real barrier for graduate jobs. Competition may be high from graduates of other Latin American countries and Mexico itself. Lack of relevant experience is a disadvantage. Not having local contacts will affect your chances.
How to improve your chances: Be proactive and develop contacts early on, e.g. research multinational companies with offices in Mexico and consult the British Chamber of Commerce in Mexico. Contact graduates who have worked in Mexico. Some people use social networking for this. Mexican employers look for highly skilled graduates with a good record of work experience. For qualified jobs, you may be able to register with recruitment agencies from home and progress using this route. Currently, Mexican business favours the use of agencies.
Language requirements: Good fluency in Spanish is essential. Although the Mexican accent is different to spoken Castilian, it often doesn’t take much time to become accustomed to the difference. There are many ways to improve or learn Spanish. The BBC includes information and resources on BBC Languages. It is also possible to buy Spanish language courses from bookshops or borrow them from the local library. Local colleges and universities often offer facilities to learn foreign languages. It may also be helpful to establish contact with Mexican students at your university and get familiar with their language/accent and culture.
Where can I work?
Major industries: petroleum production and oil refining, agricultural processing, food and beverage, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, electronics and a wide range of consumer durables.
Major cities: Mexico City (capital), Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla.
What’s it like working in Mexico?
Average working hours: these tend to be structured differently than in the UK. Traditionally, office employees work from 8am to 1pm, have a long break for ‘la comida’ (lunch), resume work at approximately 4pm and continue working until 6pm or 7pm. However, the US style of hours is gaining ground (e.g. arriving at or before 8am and leaving between 5pm and 7pm with a short lunch break). In resorts, be prepared to work unsocial hours, weekends and public holidays.
Holidays: the law states that after a year of work, you are entitled to paid holidays for a minimum of six working days then two additional days for every year worked (e.g. eight days after two years, ten days after three years, etc.). In addition, you are entitled to eight public holidays (dias feriados). Some companies may also recognise other days.
Tax rates: income tax (impuesto sobre la renta) is a progressive tax at 30% and there is also sales tax, or VAT, which is 16%. For more information see the Servicio de Administracion Tributaria (tax collection).
Working practices and customs: office workers are usually smartly dressed. Shaking hands is usual in the business environment. Be restrained in your manners until you are better acquainted with your hosts and peers. Ensure that you do not say ‘Señor’ to somebody who has been introduced as ‘Ingeniero’, ‘Licenciado’ or ‘Doctor’. Increasingly, Mexican businesses use agencies and contractors to employ staff. This means you will be employed by the agency. As a result, you will have your contract and receive your salary from them rather than from the company itself.
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