How I Found a Job in Italy

Besides the questions “How much did your house cost? How did you even afford a house at such a young age?” (to which I respond “Too much. I’m 30, I’m not that young”), one of the most-asked questions I get is “How did you find work in Italy.” And this is probably not the best way to start a blog post about the ways to find work in Italy, but you need to know that I might be the worst person to ask about jobs in general and the juicy topic of “finding a job in Italy.” But I thought it’d still be helpful to share my personal experience!

I’m going to be honest with you — I wouldn’t describe myself as ambitious. I know today’s society wants all of us to be job hungry and earning thousands per month, but that’s just not me. I want to get in, get out, get paid and pop open a bottle of red wine in the backyard at the end of the work day. I don’t care that I’m not a Founder and Owner of some invented company on LinkedIn. Also, let’s be real, I could literally change my title tomorrow to Founder and President of Almost Fiorentina LLC and be THAT GIRL. But I digress.

That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in hard work, I just DON’T CARE ABOUT MY JOB. IT DOESN’T DEFINE ME. I think that deserved caps. I’ve had a job since I was 14. I started my career at a tiny snack bar at a Montreal hockey arena — I know I know, very Canadian — and I can still smell the sweaty boy hands reaching for blue Gatorade. Then, like most, moved on to bigger and better things like pilates studios, grocery stores, restaurants, bars and for the past 2-3ish years, I’ve worked in International Education. That kind of happens to a lot of — not all, but many— expats when they move abroad. Teach English, work at some sort of international school, become a tour guide, work at a vineyard, etc. You get the picture.  

When I decided to move to Italy, I didn’t have a great CV. Ok ok ok, my CV was terrible, but I’ve always believed in “the universe will GUIDE ME to where I need to be” which is a lazy way of not working on your CV and praying that someone will see your potential through the bright blue squares and Pacifica font on your sad resume. 

While I was waiting for my citizenship to go through, I could work, but I needed a special kind of Italian work contract. So I dabbled with different jobs. I made Powerpoints for an English school, logos and flyers for a food tour company, I did a little bit of online booking work — nothing paid well, but I was living with someone who was letting me live rent free so I got through it. I wouldn’t have survived my first year here if I was paying for my own apartment. Let that be known.

Then, when I finally got my citizenship, I started to get moving on the job hunt, but not in the way you’d think. At first, I did the whole thing of checking LinkedIn and The Florentine and applying to jobs, but it wasn’t getting me anywhere. Maybe that’s because my resume was sad? YEAH MAYBE. But, let’s carry on anyway. My applications weren’t working, so I decided to start sending my CV to companies I wanted or thought I could work for. I knew I could easily work at a bar or a restaurant, but I also knew if I got into that world again, it would be impossible to get back out. If you’ve worked in the service industry, you know. The only difference with Italy is that tipping a thing here, so I wasn’t about to go back to the late nights and horrible customers and not be rewarded with epic tips at the end of the night. I’ve mentioned this in the past, but an average one-month salary in Italy is probably equivalent to working busy weekends part time at a semi-decent restaurant in Canada. I think — no I know— that I made more money working 4 nights/week as a shitty server who dropped sangria on elegant West Vancouver girls. But I just didn’t want to do that forever. But remember, phone plans cost like 8 euros/month here, health care is basically free, vegetables are cheap and in cities like mine, you don’t even need a car. You gotta decide if it’s worth the fight.

I know tour guides who make incredible money (put Covid to the side for a moment because it’s been so tough on so many) in the touristy months and expats who have their own companies. I’ve never wanted to open the famous “Partita IVA” to work for myself, but I know people who do and they’re doing fine. I also know of expats who’ve opened companies in their home countries and work from Italy without a Partita IVA because the company is based elsewhere, but I don’t want to get into the logistics of that or if it’s ethically correct to use the services of a country you live in and not pay the taxes. I’m just sharing what I know, don’t attack me!

But back to me. As I said, I started sending my CV to companies who weren’t necessarily actively recruiting. But they got back to me! Not right away. I think the first time I did it, they wrote to me two months later because they’d kept my CV aside after I refused a job they offered (because there was a 24/7 emergency phone involved that I had to carry around, and my anxiety said GIRL NO). And the same thing happened the second time I found work. I went in to interview for a completely different position and said no to the follow-up interview that they offered because I didn’t want to do the job. But then, they told me something else had opened up and it was a little more creative and depressed me a little bit less. So in both cases 1)I applied when the company wasn’t actively recruiting 2)I went in to interview for a completely different position 3)When the job I didn’t want was offered to me, I said no 4)Both companies called me with alternative positions a few months later 5)Everyone hated my CV and told me to my face.

Lessons I learned about finding a job in Italy

1)Job classifieds and LinkedIn might be where you find work, but it also might be where you never find a job so don’t get discouraged.

2)Send your CV to the places you’d like to work, not the places that are necessarily hiring.

3)If you don’t like the job, trust the universe (unless you can’t pay your electric bill, then just take the job and we can look for a job we actually like later on) and say no.

4)Companies here tend to keep your CV lying around (if you’re fluent in Italian or speak English or other languages, you’re definitely an asset in a lot of Italian cities where tourism is bumpin — not now DAMN YOU COVID, but usually) so don’t lose hope.

5)Know that you can always change your mind and leave. Nothing is permanent. HOWEVER, also know that if you change jobs during the year, you have to do your “730” (your income taxes) and you pay a fee for every job change. If I understood the accountant who did mine, you will get back the fee you paid the following year if you did everything correctly. And if you don’t do your 730, you will get a fine. So if you don’t know what I’m talking about, GET ON IT because nobody tells expats about stuff like this. Also, some jobs here offer a “tredicesima” and if you’re lucky —I am not— a “quattordicesima,” a thirteenth and fourteenth payment in July and December to help you pay for summer vacation and the holidays. If you’re looking for a job, asking about this would be important.

6)Some people will ask you interview questions that you might not be used to. Here a few memorable examples: Hi Lisa, do you have a boyfriend? Do you want kids? Do you live with your partner? How old are you? I lied every single time and came up with a variety of creative answers during my job search. Someone tell my imaginary boyfriend Federico that I miss him dearly.

And so I’ll end this thing with a quote from one of my favorite writers Cheryl Strayed:

“You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that’s all.”

So there you have it. Am I doing work I am super passionate about? No. Can I pay my electric bill? Yes. That’s all that matters.

Good luck on your job search! Thank you for being here. I BELIEVE IN YOU. PS. THIS IS MY INSTAGRAM.

Lisa xoxo

14 thoughts on “How I Found a Job in Italy

  1. Dear Lisa
    Very good tips on how to find a job for any expat thinking about living in Italy. Another great blog👍
    Big hug to Kiwi
    Miss you


  2. I absolutely love this “the universe will GUIDE ME to where I need to be”. I am big beliver in that! I call it a SIGN ;D love it! I am very lucky, I have a job that I love a lot and have so much passion for it! It took me bloody 15 years to find it.. but finally having it for 5 years and now moved with it to Italy I am living the dream 😉 keep up paying the bills… and I am sure outside work there is a lot of things that you do and have a lot of passion for.


  3. Hi Lisa,

    I’m new to your blog, but I just wanted to say I appreciate your transparent approach to this topic. I am planning to settle down in Italy within the next couple years to be with my partner of 4 years, but I’m terrified by what prospects I might (or, likely, might not) have in Italy. I just have a couple questions based on my concerns that are plaguing me at the moment:
    1. I wanted to ask you if you are fluent in Italian or were fluent when you managed to land your first job in Italy. Obviously being able to speak the language opens up a lot more opportunities, so if you are fluent, did you feel like that played a big role in finding work? I am fluent and I actually want to teach English in Italy while I study for a translation degree and get established. I’d like to hope that my linguistic skills will help me succeed.
    2. Have you ever had issues with not being paid/being paid on time? From what I know about Italy a reliable paycheck is a blessing. I sincerely hope that if I get a job in Italy that I will not be taken advantage of.
    3. About the interview questions you mentioned: what do you think employers *want* to hear? In the US, it is commonly advised for women to not indicate anything about their personal lives on resumes/in interviews (if it is brought up at all). I really don’t think my employer deserves to know about my plan to have kids (which I definitely don’t), but if my job hangs in the balance, I suppose it’s best to answer the question? You mentioned “Federico”… it sounds to me like having a partner is an advantage. That makes me feel a bit better. Even in interviews in the US I have shot myself in the foot by being honest instead of telling the employers want they want to hear. I wonder if interviewing in Italy will be even more difficult, especially if they are going to ask me a lot of questions that would be deemed inappropriate in the US.
    4. Finally, what did Italian employers not like about your CV? Did they care about gaps in employment, the amount of time you worked at jobs, working in different fields?

    Sorry for my rambling, anxious comment. Moving to Italy means finally being able to start the life I’ve dreamed of for years now, and there are so many unknowns.

    Thanks for your time!


    1. Ciao K! I’ll answer right away since I just saw your comment come in!

      1-Being fluent helped A LOT. I was already pretty fluent when I started looking for work, but I know other foreigners who don’t have solid Italian skills and they still found work. This was pre-pandemic. But if you’re working at a company where everyone speaks Italian, small things like understanding meetings and emailing coworkers in Italian makes life a lot easier for everyone.
      2-No issues! Was always paid on time, maybe a few days late.
      3-I think they ask about the partner because hiring someone from another country means they might pick up and leave at any moment. If you have a partner, you’re more likely to stick around. Interviews here can sometimes get a little personal..
      4-My CV had a bunch of different jobs in a bunch of different fields, because that was my truth, but I think keeping things simple could perhaps help. My CV was a bit too… full.

      The job opportunities largely depend on where you’ll be moving! All Italian cities are different.

      Hope that helped a bit!


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