Jobs and Working in Chile
**This article is part of an original series of expat resources we contributed to the Chile Pages, read the original here.
Chile is classified as a high-income economy and is one of the most safe, stable and prosperous nations to live and do business in South America. It has a comparatively free market with internationally measured low crime and corruption rates making it especially welcoming to skilled workers and attractive for expats and investors alike.
Expats in Chile are integrated in diverse fields:
- Education, especially language
- Multinational or local companies
- Construction, engineering, finance and banking, IT, mining and wine crafting
- Tourism and hospitality
- Various entrepreneurial and investing ventures
You will need a visa permitting you to legally work in Chile on a contract with a company or offering professional services.
Most employers require advanced competency in Spanish, with English as a plus (or requirement depending on the position). If Spanish is not required at your job, it is best to learn and speak it as a point of respect for Chilean coworkers and local culture.
- Expat sites are a great way to network even before getting to Chile.
- Even those fluent in other Spanish dialects will often need to take Chilean Spanish lessons requiring practice and an attentive ear!
- If you have or are applying for a visa sujeto a contrato, it requires a work contract. You must also work for the employer listed on your visa to maintain and renew it. If you have a new employer, a new visa application is required. Go though the list of visas to make sure you pick one that is right for your situation.
Applying for a Job
Your resume will be referred to as a curriculum, or curriculum vitae (CV), and include basic contact information, summary, education, and work experience. Technical or professional fields are particularly strict about required qualifications and certificates. It is recommended to send a letter of recommendation along with your CV to potential employers.
Business connections, locally called pitutos, can be influential. Sometimes, employers do not publish job opportunities as they rely on credible recommendations. Don’t be afraid of asking recommendations or contacts, it’s a Chilean social norm. Even after attaining a job, it’s safe to keep networking and establish your own pitutos.
It will take time to find a job, and it is best to apply once you are in Chile, plan accordingly! Give yourself some economic wiggle room (3-6 months depending on your career choice and experience. It sounds like a lot of savings, but remember you’re moving to Chile, not London).
Teaching a foreign language (English, German and French are in highest demand) is an easy stepping stone for some foreigners. Language institutes typically have less regulation and fewer requirements or you can teach privately. Formal schools will require at least a teaching certificate or degree from Chile, your home country, or an internationally recognized institution.
Try a headhunter to match your experience and qualifications with a great employer, and frequent general job websites, websites of major multinational and national companies, and look through classified in local newspapers.
Working for a Chilean or Multinational Company: General Etiquette
Expats from cultures which place more emphasis maintaining personal space should be aware that Chileans often speak standing comparatively close. Typically a kiss on the cheek and small talk are expected with greetings or goodbyes, with the exception of men to men who shake hands.
Expect to address new clients and colleagues with their title and surname, until directed to do otherwise. Chileans have two surnames, but the first one is usually used. Conversations may be informal; however an invitation to be informal is best practice. On the same note, it is not entirely recommended to use ‘’usted’’ when speaking to coworkers in higher positions, including direct managers. Showing self-confidence and playing at a level field despite differences in position is respected. It can even be offensive to some people as ‘’usted’’ is also used when speaking to an older person.
Chileans often display a more relaxed attitude towards appointments and timing translating into correspondence via email, letters, and phone calls to be less than prompt. It is always worth following up with people. On the other hand, you are expected to be on time to meetings and appointments. Always reconfirm before arrival and allow for the host to be late by up 15-30 minutes. Don’t take this personally, and mention it casually with your business partners if it becomes problem.
Business hours are generally kept between 9 am and 6 pm with a one hour break over lunch. As an expat, be prepared for long working hours – 45 hour work weeks – Chile is one of the most overworked yet underpaid countries of its category.
- Be observant of how interactions are played out, and ask questions about company culture and etiquette first.
- Save yourself some stress and trouble and forget about the speed of western life and rewire your Chilean professional life to a new rhythm.
Bear in mind convenience, proximity to public transportation, neighborhood, and cost of living before settling on a place to live. In Santiago, it can take over an hour to get from one end of the city to the other during rush hour.
Employment packages for expats differ depending on the company transferring or hiring you from overseas. Negotiate with a future employer on your employment package, and do your research first!
Major Multinationals in Chile
- Kimberly Clark
- Scotia Bank
- Renault – Sofasa
- ACE Seguros
- British American Tobacco
- DJ Orthopedics
- SC Johnson
- Gerdau Aza
Largest Chilean Companies
- LAN Airlines
- Empresas CMPC