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Posted Saturday, October 9, 2004
Working In Mexico: Wishful Thinking?
Bill Masterson, our People's Guide expert on working in Mexico, has written authoritatively on the subject in various articles on this website (do a Goggle search to find his stuff or use the link on the side of this page). Although Lorena and I have both worked in Mexico on occasion, we don't pretend to be experts on this particular topic. Our answers to the questions that follow are rather light on specific details. We do know beyond a doubt, however, that unemployment and under-employment are big problems in Mexico. In fact, many Mexicans would love to know how to find a good job in their own country.
In other words, foreigners seeking employment in Mexico are going to find the situation challenging, to say the least.
First of all, if you don't know Mexico fairly well -- or even know it at all, it simply isn't reasonable to expect to land a job there. In addition to understanding the culture and having at least a fair sense of how things are done (and not done), speaking Spanish is also important. There are, of course, exceptions to this. We've met gringos working in tourism in Mexico who probably couldn't conjugate an irregular verb if their life depended on it. That may be fine if you're bussing tables at Pancho & Charley's but it won't go over well if you're applying for a job as a nurse or professional.
Don't expect to find a job in Mexico quickly, or one that pays well. That's why millions of Mexicans reluctantly go north of the border seeking better wages. In Mexico professionals, experts, white collar types, teachers, scientists and managers are not well paid by gringo standards.
So... our advice can be boiled down to these basic, essential tips:
1: Visit and explore various places in Mexico, make contacts, look around, "schmooze" with the locals and resident gringos. Scarce jobs usually go to the person who is there first, actually in Mexico and ready to go to work, not to the distant applicant who inquires by email.
2: Learn Spanish.
3: Acquaint yourself with the customs and expected courtesies of the country.
4: Repeat step 1 until you're successful, and if you're not, return to your native country, get a job, save some money... and return to Mexico and enjoy the country as a visitor.
OK, now that we've got that off our chests, here's a sample of the latest questions about working in Mexico from our readers:
Hello, I am an American and a registered nurse. I am wondering if there is any way to find out if there are any nursing jobs in Mexico available to US citizens. I know that the reverse is quite true. If you have any information, please let me know.
Sincerely, Allison D.
Carl replies: Alison, I don't know of a simple, direct source of information for nurses who would like to work in Mexico. As you know, hospitals and health care providers in the United States recruit nurses in Mexico for jobs north of the border. My suggestion is that you post your question on one of the many specialty nurse websites, such as Ultimate Nurse:
Another possible lead would be the Guadalajara School of Medicine (Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara)
If you learn anything useful, please let us know so that we can pass it on to others.
I am employed here as a waiter in one of the finest restaurants on the West Coast, and have many years of experience. I was browsing the Gourmet Festival site and it got me thinking.....Any chances for a waiter to grab his surfboards and work a stint at a fine dining restaurant?
Thanks! Steve B.
Lorena answers: The only way to find out is to go to PV (Puerto Vallarta) and talk with people in the restaurants.: So grab your surfboard, Steve, and head down for a fall break.
Carl adds: Jobs in tourist restaurants and bars are among the most likely prospects for gringos. Keep in mind that working legally in Mexico requires a special immigration permit. Lots of people work without it -- but if you get caught, you're in trouble!
Carl replies (grumpily): Hey! We are real people here, working for nothing but chips and salsa. Sorry, but questions like yours require more than a little research. I have a "peeve" about being expected to spend my own time on something that evidently doesn't rate a signature, or so much as a simple "hello". But here's a tip: courtesies are very important in Mexico!
Hello, my name is Vivian, and I am a mother of 3 young children. I recently went to club med in cancun and loved it. Of course I was on vacation, but I would like to go spend the month of January 2005 somewhere in mexico and just live with the people and work with the people. I do not really need to be paid for that period and just want to live the experience. I have been separated for 8 months now and find I need some time on my own living for myself a little bit. My ex-husband is supporting me in this and is willing to take the kids full time for the period that I will be away. Do you know of any place where they take “au pair” for a period of one month. Hotels, restaurants, or things like that. I have been in business all my life and have a lot of human skills. I speak French perfectly and English perfectly. Thank you in advance for the information.
Carl answers: With your skills (especially fluency in French) I'd say your best bet is to go to Mexico and job hunt in person. Short-term jobs such as you describe are difficult-to-impossible to find in advance, before actually arriving in Mexico. You might also prepare a brief one-page resume that you could leave at hotels and travel agencies. You're going to need a good measure of luck to actually find a job quickly, but you never know. A young friend of ours was walking down the street in Mexico City recently when he was spotted by a scout for a major cosmetics company. They hired him on the spot, at a very attractive fee, simply to sit on a stage and have his hair styled!
P.S. Click on the burro to return to the People' Guide To Mexico main page
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