How to get a job in Milan: 8 Steps

TransferWise content team
27.06.17
9 minute read

How to get a job in Milan: 8 steps

You might know it for it’s fashion and fast cars, but it’s finance that really makes Milan prosper. The city is one of the largest finance and business hubs in Europe, and the Milan metropolitan area is one of the richest places in the EU. In fact, the GDP (gross domestic product) in this region is worth almost as much as the whole of the Austrian economy. Not bad.

It’s hardly surprising that Milan is a place that draws lots of foreigners to live and work, and experience a little bit of the good life. Milan is the second richest city in the EU after Paris, and ranked as one of the most expensive places on the globe for expats, so be prepared. You’re going to need a job, to pay your way.

Here’s a quick guide to getting a job in Milan.

1. Make sure you’re eligible to work in Milan

Before you start to look for a job in Milan, you need to check if you’re able to work there legally.

The free movement principle applies to citizens of other EU and EEA countries making it free for them to live and work in Milan without needing any special visa or permit. However, if you’re from America or another country outside of the EU, you’ll probably need to have a permit to work in Milan, or elsewhere in Italy.

You can check out all the details about living and working in EU countries, at the EU immigration portal, or else check out this quick guide to getting a work visa for Italy.

Italy uses a quota system for visas for most occupations. This means that if you’re a US citizen, or from elsewhere outside of Europe, you can only be offered a working visa if you fulfil all the relevant criteria, and the quota hasn't already been reached when your application is processed.

You’ll need a job offer before you can apply for a visa, as your employer has to start the process locally. The good news is that some occupations with a shortage of workers aren't subject to quotas. Also, if you’re transferring with the same employer for a short period of time you might be exempt from the quota numbers.

Depending on the type of work you're planning on doing, it might be possible to apply for an EU Blue Card which gives you the right to work across most EU member states. To be eligible you must have a job offer already, be from outside the EU and be ‘highly skilled’. Since Blue Card applications are typically fast tracked by local authorities, this can be a quicker way to get your documents sorted if you’re eligible.

2. Consider the types of available jobs

Milan is home to the Italian Stock Exchange, and many international and local banks have a presence there. One large local bank with a Milan headquarters is Banco Popolare di Milano. They, as well as large multinational financial service firms like JP Morgan, regularly recruit expat banking and finance roles.

Versace. Gucci. Prada. Valentino. Armani. Moschino. No, not a quick peek at the inside of a fashionista’s closet, but a line up of just some of the fashion superbrands headquartered in Milan. There are great fashion roles for expats available on offer across these companies and more, but be warned, the competition will be fierce.

Elsewhere in the corporate world, Milan also has a large Amazon office with available positions. Aside from jobs in logistics, there are many corporate teams based here, meaning roles on offer in functions like HR, sales, PR and finance.

If you’re looking for a part time job as a student studying in Milan you can find job boards full of offers, and learn of opportunities shared by word of mouth. Good part time jobs for English speakers include seasonal work in cafes and bars. There’s a busy tourist sector so opportunities arise frequently.

If you’re looking for a hotel job in Italy you can find them by either looking at sites like Hosco, or applying directly to larger hotels in the city. There are available positions to either fit around your studies or as a full time career.

Before you travel, you should find out a bit about how the salaries and costs of living in Italy, and specifically more specifically in Milan. If you have a specific company or role in mind, Glassdoor can be a great way of getting insight into the company culture and what salary you might get. For cost of living information in Milan compared to your current home, try Numbeo where you can compare costs of rent, groceries, utilities and so on.

3. Look online

When it comes to job hunting the internet is your friend. Aside from the most popular job sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster which cover more or less the entire globe, there are also lots of local sites to choose from.

There's no reason you can't apply for a role in Milan before you travel to Italy. Just be clear on your application about your availability for your interview and for work, and your visa status.

Try these Milan specific job sites as a starting point:

4. Find a recruiter to help with your job hunt

Finding the right talent in Milan can be tricky for busy hiring managers. Big international companies use recruitment agencies to help them connect with the job seekers that are right for them.

Looking online will give you a sense for the job openings that are out there, but if you’re looking for a job in Milan as an American or from elsewhere in the English speaking world, talking to an agent can really speed up your job search by eliminating any language barrier.

Some of the larger and more popular agents in Milan include:

  • Stanton Chase is a large executive search firm working in Milan across sectors as diverse as non profit and banking. They’re worth looking up if you’re after a professional job.
  • With a 40 year history, Amrop is well established in Milan and offers recruitment consultancy and headhunting across many roles including retail, tech, finance and professional services.
  • With a global presence, recruitment giants at Michael Page are used to dealing with candidates and clients from all over the world. They cover many industries in Milan, and can give advice on the local market for expat new arrivals.

Check out the credentials of any agency you choose to use. There are scammers out there so remember you shouldn’t hand over any cash to simply be put in touch with an employer. Some agents, however, do offer a range of add on chargeable services like helping you to polish your CV, write a cover letter or get a visa.

5. Do some networking

A huge number of jobs are filled through word of mouth, meaning your network is your most important tool when you’re looking for a new position. This can feel like a challenge when you’re also moving to a new city, but don’t panic. Start by building your network online and join groups active in your field in Milan on professional sites like LinkedIn.

Depending on your work area you might also benefit from joining a business networking group like the American Business Group Milan and Rome. It’s a great opportunity for US citizens in Milan to meet and converse with other fellow Americans.

For broader interest groups, check out sites like Meetup that specialise in bringing like-minded people together, for ideas.

Regardless of what field you’re in the Professional Women’s Association of Milan will welcome incoming expat women, and can offer ideas and advice even before you arrive.

Finally, if you’re coming to Milan to start your own business or work on a more freelance basis, the Milan Chamber of Commerce offers advice and support for SME (small and medium enterprises) owners and foreigners working in Milan. As well as getting to know others in the same position as you, you can access help planning your business and navigating local rules. They also offer courses on topics which will help you grow and develop your ideas.

6. Get your CV Milan ready

Having an impressive CV is crucial when you’re looking for a new job. Make sure it’s up to date, error free, and easy to read, or busy recruiters will likely put you to the bottom of their call pile. Getting a job in Milan is likely to be a competitive affair, so make sure you invest the time upfront.

If you’re starting from scratch preparing a CV for the European market, check out the CV and cover letter templates and advice available from Europass. That resource also offers a standard template including all the relevant information for CVs in Europe you can download. For more specialist ideas about the Italian labour market check out Jobera’s Italian CV Writing Guide, or consider hiring a local CV consultant who can help tailor your documents for the roles you’re seeking.

Writing a perfect CV for the Italian market is more of an art than a science, and there are relatively few hard and fast rules. What a recruiter for Gucci is looking for will vary quite wildly from the needs of a hiring manager from the Italian Stock Exchange, for example.

However, the standard European format is a good starting point. Just make sure you include your date of birth and nationality in the personal details section, as this is expected in Italy even though it’s typically left out in some other countries. If you have completed military service this is often mentioned too.

Some recruiters advise that you include your work history before details of your educational background, especially if you have an impressive list of previous employers. Hiring managers like to see where you’ve been before, and take this as a vote of confidence in your ability, more than anything you could personally say about your expertise.

You’ll have to state your level of fluency with Italian in the document, and also be prepared to bring any course certificates or qualifications to the interview. Keep in mind they'll likely be checked, along with your references.

7. Get prepped for your job interview

For most of us job interviews can be pretty stressful, and even more so when your prospective employer is on the other side of the globe. When recruiting long distance it’s not uncommon for first interviews to be held over the phone or on a video call. This approach throws up a whole set of different challenges to a face to face meeting, so it’s worth planning in advance and thinking about how to build rapport with your interviewer while you’re not even in the same room. Asking relevant questions, using humour and simply smiling while you speak can make for a friendly conversation to help you get through to the next round.

If you included on your CV that you have some ability in Italian, you should double check the expected language before your interview. If you’re going to be using Italian remember to brush up a bit. There are resources online to help you practise your interview in Italian if you need it.

Treat your interview as a formal affair. Arrive with ten minutes to spare, dress smartly and make sure you use the formal ‘lei’ form of address if your interview in Italian. Showing respect is crucial so get job titles and names right, and remember to use formal titles, such as ‘Doctor’ if this is relevant.

8. Get ready to move

Once you’ve aced your interview and got the job you’re going to need to start thinking about more practical questions connected to your move. The local Commune website has a helpful guide for expats in Milan, including details about how to access language courses, vocational training, register for school places and interact with the local council.

Nobody ever said life in Milan was cheap, so you’re going to need some cash to get you started in Italy. If you plan to open a bank account in Italy, or know someone with an account there, consider using TransferWise to send your money to and from Milan.

There’s a small transparent fee, and the real exchange rate is applied to convert from one currency to another - the same one you can find on Google. In addition to that, TransferWise receives and sends money via local bank transfers instead of internationally, which saves you even more money by eliminating international transfer fees.

Once your visas and currency exchange are in order, you’re ready to move to Milan!

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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