Working in Mexico
The job market
What are your chances of getting a job?
Mexico can be a challenging place to find work unless you’re highly experienced in a specialist field, have a sponsor/company offering you a contract and have an excellent command of the language.
Mexican employers look for highly skilled graduates with a good record of work experience. There is stiff competition from Mexican, as well as Latin American, graduates. For jobs that require qualifications, you could register with recruitment agencies from home and pursue opportunities available from them, but bear in mind that fluency in Spanish is essential for this approach to succeed.
If you’re already familiar with Castilian, it often doesn’t take much time to become accustomed to Mexican Spanish. It can also be helpful to contact Mexican students at your university to help gain familiarity with their accent and culture. Teaching English and resort work are an alternative if you don’t have strong language abilities.
Networking and having contacts is very important. Sometimes it’s a case of who you know, not what you know. Social networking can be really useful for this, as well as contacting graduates from your university who have worked in Mexico. You could also try getting in touch with the British Chamber of Commerce in Mexico.
Where can you work?
- Major industries: petroleum production and oil refining, agricultural processing, food and beverage, chemicals and pharmaceuticals and a wide range of consumer durables.
- Recent growth areas: petroleum industry, electronics, logistics and transportation, infrastructure, services sector.
- Industries in decline: metallurgical industry, textiles and footwear, vehicle production.
- Shortage occupations: engineering, communications and technical fields.
- Major companies: Pemex, Cemex, Grupo Bimbo, Telmex, Televisa, Grupo Modelo, Mabe, Semex, Lanix, Falco Electronics, Meebox. Multinationals with offices in Mexico include Barclays Bank, BP, Deloitte, EY, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), HSBC, ICI Group, KPMG, Procter & Gamble, PwC, Shell and Unilever.
What’s it like working in Mexico?
- Average working hours: traditionally, office employees work from 8 am to 1 or 2 pm, have a long break for ‘la comida’ (lunch), resume work at around 4 pm until 6 or 7pm. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the US style of working hours is gaining ground – arriving around 8am, having a quick lunch, and leaving between 5 and 7 pm. In tourist resorts, be prepared to work unsocial hours, weekends and public holidays.
- Holidays: the law states that after a year of work, you’re entitled to paid holidays for a minimum of six working days then two additional days for every year worked. However, you will probably be required to undergo a three-month trial period, in which case it can be 15 months before you're entitled to any holiday. You’re also 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 between 15% and 30%. Go to Servicio de Administración Tributaria (tax collection) for details. Don’t forget to check your UK tax and National Insurance position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure that you are not losing any UK pension rights.
Applying for jobs
The usual way of applying for jobs is by CV and covering letter. Application forms are also used. Applications should be written in Spanish unless asked otherwise, and use a clear style and be professional. It’s a good idea to have your application checked by a native speaker for that ‘little tweak’ that might make a difference.
It is easier to get your job before leaving for Mexico. Recruitment agencies can help, as Mexican employers are known to use intermediaries and agencies as part of the recruitment process. Many employers like to meet potential employees personally before the job offer is confirmed, so be prepared.
CVs should be no longer than two pages. In general, the style is similar to the UK, although the order of the sections might be different to highlight your skills or experience as required.
It is optional to include a personal profile/professional objectives section. You can use it to describe briefly your knowledge and experience and how these match the skills sought by the employer. Add a photograph if asked.
Remember that a covering letter should always be sent together with your CV. Get more applications and CV advice.
The interview process is quite formal with a structure similar to UK interviews. Ensure that you’ve investigated the company and the economic sector thoroughly as you’ll be asked about this. You might be asked about your personal life. Be prepared to demonstrate your abilities and skills to do the job.
Assessment centres are not common. If they are going to be used, ask what will be involved. They should not differ much from UK assessment centres.
For further advice and tips in Spanish, take a look at:
- Dirección General de Orientación y Servicios Educativos (General Bureau for Educational Guidance and Services)
- Portal del Empleo
Will your UK qualifications be recognised?
UK qualifications are generally well recognised around the world, but check with the employer or relevant professional body before applying for work.
The Secretaría de Educación Pública (Ministry of Public Education) is in charge of the revalidation and equivalencies of foreign qualifications.
Job websites and recruitment agencies
- Accion Trabajo
- Bolsa Mexicana de Trabajo
- Higher Ed Jobs Mexico
- Portal del Empleo
The best way to find jobs that are not advertised is by using your contacts (friends, friends of friends, family) and networking. Personal networking may be more effective, as email or postal enquiries are sometimes ignored. Try networking via social media such as LinkedIn.
Speculative applications are common. Ensure that you address them to the relevant line manager or person in charge of human resources. Telephone calls are also used, but only try this if your Spanish is of a very high standard.
The Servicio Nacional de Empleo provides the Portal del Empleo, which includes excellent information on job searching, training opportunities, guidance on courses, advice and guidance on employment rights and labour market statistics.
If you are a student at a university, take advantage of their ‘bolsas de trabajo’ – careers and employment services. Some universities only offer these services to their own graduates and students. However, some have websites with useful advice and information that anyone can access.
Getting work experience
Work placements and internships
Multinational companies may offer internships in their offices in Mexico. Try to establish links in the UK or search the British Chamber of Commerce Mexico. Details of work experience are available from IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) and Intern Abroad.
Many UK universities have exchange programmes with Mexican universities. Check with your own university for exchange opportunities.
There are local agencies in urban centres. Local competition is likely to be significant. In any case you will need a work permit. Be aware of the terms and conditions under which you might be engaged.
Gap year and volunteering opportunities
There are several organisations that can help you organise a gap year or find volunteering opportunities in Mexico, including:
Do you need a visa?
Check the Mexican Consulate in the UK to see if you need a visa. The purpose of your visit to Mexico and the length of your stay will establish whether or not you require a visa. There are also details about what documentation you need.
If you’ll be working in Mexico for up to six months - but not receiving payment from a Mexican source – you just need to fill in an FMM migration form (landing card) which you’re given on the plane.
If you’re going to be working for a foreign company in Mexico and not receiving payment from a Mexican source, then the company must ask the Mexican Consulate to issue a Temporary Resident Visa (Residente Temporale). This allows single entry into the country and you must exchange it for a Temporary Resident Card at the nearest migration office (INM) within 30 days of arrival. The card is valid for a year and you can travel in and out of Mexico. The company will have to contact the Instituto Nacional de Migración, Mexico and provide a series of documents supporting the application. It can be extended or renewed up to 30 days before its expiry date at the INM office.
If you’re not a UK or EU national, contact the Mexican embassy in the country where you are currently residing about how to obtain visas and work permits. If you are living in the UK, go to the Mexican Consulate in London.
It might also be helpful to contact your ministry of foreign affairs (or your own embassy if you are not living in your home country) to ask whether there are any issues to be taken into account when considering working in Mexico.
How do you become a permanent resident?
After living in Mexico for five years as a temporary resident, a foreign national can obtain permanent residency in the country.
Living in Mexico
- Cost of living: there is wide variation in income, living conditions and cost of living. UK/EU graduates should find most places affordable given that public transport, taxis and eating out are cheaper than in the UK.
- Internet domain: .mx
- Currency: Mexican peso ($ or Mex$)
- Health: the general standard of public health in the major cities is satisfactory with access to general practice and hospital care. In rural areas, the standard and availability of health care differs greatly. Make sure you have good insurance to cover any medical needs.
- Type of government: federal republic
- Laws and customs: be prepared to identify yourself with passport/ID as required. Penalties for drug offences are severe and prison sentences lengthy. Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is not permitted. Civil unions and marriages between same sex couples is a matter for local state legislation and they are now legal in Mexico City and a few states. However, homosexuality is generally tolerated rather than accepted across the country as a whole.
- Emergency numbers: 911 for police, medical/ambulance and fire department. For urgent assistance from the British Embassy in Mexico call the 24-hour helpline on (0052) 55 1670 3200.
- People: 60% of the population is Amerindian-Spanish, 30% is Amerindian, 9% is white, 1% other.
- Major religion: Roman Catholicism