Moving to Ireland – Getting a Job

Disclaimer. If you haven’t read the Moving to Ireland series before please read this first.

I moved to Dublin, Ireland in August 2016. As such I wanted to provide information about moving to Ireland. This series is from the perspective of a Canadian on a Working Holiday Visa (which is a temporary visa that lasts 2 years for Canadians). If you’re from another country/want to get a permanent visa/plan to attend school in Ireland you’ll need to do further research. Here is a good place to start. I am not an immigration lawyer or expert and I make no guarantees your experience moving to Ireland (or any country) will be the same as mine. Failure to do the proper research and apply for the proper paperwork to move to a new country could land you in legal and financial trouble (including prison and being banned from the country). It’s up to you to make sure you are moving to Ireland (or any country) in a legal way. Nonetheless I hope this series will serve as a starting point and inspiration if you are thinking about moving to Ireland.

Ireland in this series refers to the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland is a part of the UK and has different rules about visas. If you are looking to work in Northern Ireland, you will need to research visas for the UK.

This is the final part of this is about getting a job (unless you’re rich and have a trust fund 😁). Since I decided to move to Dublin this post will be about finding a job in the Dublin area, but much of the information can be applied to other cities/towns in Ireland. Previously in this series was
Part 1 – Should you move to Ireland?
Part 2 – Before You Arrive
Part 3 – Getting Settled and Paperwork
Part 4 – Finding a Place to Live

What Kind of Jobs Are Out There?

All kinds. Many people on working holidays will gravitate to working in jobs with *relatively* easy entry level positions such as in hospitality, retail, food services, call centres, etc. If you have professional experience and education in a particular industry, then feel free to apply for those types of professional jobs as well. It’s worth noting that an employer may be hesitant to hire you for a permanent position because your visa only allows you to work for two years. If you decide to apply for a professional job you might want to also apply for entry level positions in retail, food services, to get a job and earn some money while you can.

While I do some freelance writing myself I knew I wanted to get a job working with other people. I love writing, but it can be very isolating, and I like having a job (and extra income) as a way to socialise. If you do freelance work (writing, graphic design, etc.) you can keep doing freelance or contract work on the side. Just remember to keep track of your income for tax purposes.

Your CV

In Ireland they use a CV format. If you are going through the USIT program, they can do a CV review and mock interviews, which can be very helpful. Unlike resumes, which are only 1 page and super condensed, the CV is a bit longer and contains a bit of personal information about yourself (hobbies, interests. We’re talking about things that are safe to mention to a potential employer (so you know maybe don’t disclose your personal kinks 😉).

Be sure to put your most recent job at the top and only put in what’s relevant for the position you’re applying for. As an example, I do freelance writing and would put a general position of a freelance writer on my CV when applying for customer service jobs (waitressing, hotel front desk, etc.). When I was applying for communication-based jobs, I expanded that and included different projects that I’ve done and publications I’ve written for. A restaurant doesn’t need to see 2 pages of writing and communication-based positions, but a company looking for a copywriter would.

Also remember to include volunteer work if you can show the skills you used there would be relevant to the job you’re applying for. has a bunch of different CV templates. That said you don’t have to make your CV look exactly like the ones on this site, but it gives you an idea of how to organise your CV. Remember to double check your information (spelling and grammar) to make sure there are no mistakes.

When it came to references from employers and supervisors back home in Canada I got an email and explained during the interview that I didn’t include a phone number because of the time difference. Chances are most employers won’t be calling North America for a reference, especially in an entry level position. Once you start working in Ireland use phone numbers for references.

Your Cover Letter

I hate writing cover letters, and depending on the type of job you’re applying for it might not be necessary to include one. If you’re applying for a professional job, then definitely include a cover letter. With every job and company be sure to modify and change your cover letter for that particular position. When applying online for entry level jobs, I also included a cover letter and made sure to change it for each company/job I applied for. Nevertheless, when I dropped off my CV in person for retail/restaurant/hospitality positions, I didn’t include a cover letter because I was dropping over 10-15 CVs at different establishments every day.

Where to Apply

For entry level hospitality/retail/food services, etc. type of positions I had the best luck applying directly in person. When you go in ask if the manager is available because handing your CV to a worker might not guarantee that it’s passed on to the right person. It’s also worth remembering to try to drop off your CV at the right time. It busiest at a restaurant during lunch (11 am to 1 pm) and dinner (5 pm to 7 pm) so applying in person then means you likely won’t get to talk to a manager. Similarly going to a hotel at 9 pm means the manager probably won’t be there either. Heading out with your CV during the day (Monday to Friday) will give you the best luck.

Of course there are also lots of job websites to use as well. is the most popular job searching websites. Linkedin is great for professional jobs. is another site.

Finally if you’re not having luck with these options you can also try recruitment companies. However, they will have a fee if they’re successful in placing you with a job.

Quick trip to see the windmills in Skerries, Ireland after getting my most recent job.

Since starting my most recent job I took a quick day trip to see the windmills in Skerries, which is a 40 minute train ride north of Dublin.

What to Wear for Your Job Interview

When applying for a job in person or if you have to go in for an interview be sure to dress professionally. Even if you’re applying for a casual position at a bar, you’ll want to wear professional clothes for your interview. My interview attire was a button up blouse, black trousers, and black flats. If you don’t have any interview clothes, I would recommend heading to Penney’s (in the city centre there’s one O’Connell Street and one Mary Street). You’ll be able to get some basic interview clothes, and the prices are pretty decent (I think I spent €20 on my interview outfit, minus the shoes that I already had). If you are looking to work in a restaurant/bar, you may want to buy a black button up shirt as well as black trousers in case they ask you to work a trial shift.

Trial Shifts

If you are applying to work in a restaurant or bar you may be asked to come in for a trial shift, which usually lasts a couple hours (in my experience). It’s a way for the company to see how you work and will fit into their environment. Now full disclosure you likely won’t be paid for your trial shift, and it’s not exactly legal. However, if you go for an interview and you’re asked to work a trial shift, and you say no thanks then they’ll likely hire someone else who will.

So far I’ve worked 6 different trial shifts during. Four were for restaurants/bars (including the one I’m working at now). One was a door to door sales job. The other was for a hotel. This circumstance was confusing because after the interview I was under the impression I had been hired (they asked when I could start, gave me a training schedule, got me a uniform and locked key, etc.). About 30 minutes before my first training shift ended the manager told me this was just a trial shift and they were still reviewing candidates. However, since I worked 8 hours, I was paid for that shift. It was a very confusing (more on that later).

Here are few things that you should be aware of in regards to trial shifts. Before accepting a trial shift be sure to find out

  • Exactly when and where the trial shift will be taking place (especially if you’re applying for a job at a chain with multiple locations).
  • How long the trial shift will be. A couple of unpaid hours is one thing, but if a company wants you to work a full shift unpaid, I’d be wary.
  • If there’ll be manager or supervisor will be on duty. I worked one trial shift where there wasn’t any management on duty, which I found strange. You want someone from management to be there so they can see how you work because they’re the one will be making the decision whether or not to hire you.
  • If you’ll be working with anyone else on a trial shift. A couple places had me and someone else doing a trial shift at the same time. Unfortunately both times there were no customers so it was difficult to show how I’d get on with customers. I was sent home early, and unsurprisingly was not hired.
  • When (after the trial shift) they’ll be making their decision on who to hire. If after the time they specified, they haven’t contacted you then follow up to see where your application stands. In the mean time keeping applying for other jobs. Even if you think the shift went well don’t put all your hopes into that one job.

Finally remember that since you won’t get paid to do a trial shift if you don’t like it, you can leave (be sure to let them know). With the door to door sales job, I knew after an hour that it wasn’t the job for me. I contacted the supervisor, said thanks for the opportunity, but I wasn’t interested and went home.

Wages and Hours

The minimum wage for employees over 19 with two years of working experience (in any industry) is €9.25/hour. If you’re 19 but have less of two years working experience the minimum wage is €8.33/hour. Depending on the job, your experience, and the demand you could always make more than this, but this is the minimum. When you start a job, you should be given a contract that details your wage, how many hours/week you’ll work, vacation time/pay, etc. It will also lay out conditions of probation (usually your first six months).

If you are Canadian there are no maximum hours that you can work for a job, which is great. If you have a Holiday Visa for Ireland from another country, you may be restricted on how many hours per week you can work. As well some of the visas may require you to change employees after a certain time period (again Canadians don’t have this issue). Be sure to check your particular visa for these restrictions.


I haven’t had to file taxes yet, but I will share a few things I’ve learned so far. As mentioned in the Getting Setting and Paperwork post of this series you’ll want your PPSN and tax credit certificate to be taken off the emergency tax fund (41% of your income). You can go to your revenue account online to fill out the information for your employment to have this taken off.

When you leave a job (whether you quit, are just on contract or are let go) you should get a P-45 form along with your final wages (the p-45 form is usually mailed to you). There’s a part of the form you keep for yourself and another part you give to your next employer. They’ll put in the information to make sure you’re taxed correctly. You can always go online to your revenue account to make sure the new employer details are on your file.

My Job Experience in Ireland

Similar to my experience of finding a place to live and getting the paperwork sorted finding a job took time and wasn’t easy. At the beginning of September, I got hired to work at a call centre. While the people I worked with were friendly and I liked the company that job wasn’t for me and after two weeks I found myself out of a job. I applied for more jobs, went on interviews and did a couple trial shifts, but didn’t get any serious offers until mid-October. That’s when I went to a hotel for an interview. It went great, and I was asked when I could start. As mentioned in the trial shift part earlier I was under the impression I had a job, but it turns out I didn’t. The big thing I learned from this was that you technically don’t have a job until you sign your employee contract.

The hotel experience really got to me. I was upset and wondered why the hell I was having such a hard time finding a job (especially since this position was similar to one I had done back home). That experience was so stressful that right after I got sick with the flu. For two weeks I wasn’t able to do anything, except stay in bed and sleep. Even going online and trying to apply for a job while I had the flu was exhausting. So I took a break and focused on getting better.

After that I started to realise that part of the problem with my job hunting was I was going with the “I’ll take any legal job (except stripping…not for me).” While I was applying for all sort of work (some that I’d done before and some that I hadn’t) and telling myself “this will be fine” in my heart I was often not interested in these job at all. It was a fine line to draw because I couldn’t be too picky. I needed a job and to start making money, I also wanted to work somewhere that I would like and where my contributions would be valued.

A couple of weeks after I’d recovered from my flu I got hired to work a short holiday contract at a department store. While it was just for the month of December, it was nice to have a job. The company was great, and I worked with some nice people, but the job was located on the other side of the city from me. This meant I had a two-hour commute (each way). It was okay for the few weeks I worked there, but I wouldn’t have been able to handle it for longer than that.

When that contract ended I took a few days off after Christmas and went to Bath. I decided to wait to apply for jobs until the new year. After a couple of weeks of looking for employment, I got hired for to waitress in a restaurant and pub. I work during the day, and while it’s a bit slow now (not high season for tourism), it’s given me time to learn what I need to. My coworkers are great, as is the company, and the commute is much shorter than my previous job. While I was only hired for part-time hours I’ve gotten extra hours cleaning the restaurant before my waitressing shifts. I average about 34 hours a week, which right now is perfect for me.

So yes finding a job in Dublin wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. There were many times when I wondered if I would have to go home, but once I started applying for jobs that I really wanted to work at I started seeing better results. And I learned it’s always better to have extra emergency funds when on a holiday visa in case it takes a while to get a job. I’m quite happy where I have ended up. Now with a stable job and income (so I can pay my rent and bills) I’ll be able to save up money to take more trips around Ireland.

Have you worked abroad before? What was your experience like? Leave your comments below.

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