Summer is just around the corner and in Crete this is evident by the flurry of activity which has sprung up over the last few weeks as people are busy repairing, cleaning and whitewashing their premises in the spring sunshine; getting ready for the tourist season.
Each year, along with the holidaymakers, come an influx of workers who spend anywhere from 2 to 8 months working on Crete in tourist related services. Locals as well as Greeks from other parts of the country, plus North Europeans, Albanians, Russians, Rumanians, and Bulgarians make up the main work force in Crete during the summer months.
Finding a Summer Job in Crete
There are numerous seasonal jobs in hotels, cafes, bars, tavernas, travel agencies and car rental offices, to name just a few.
For many of these summer jobs in Crete and other tourist areas in Greece, Greek is not required.
So how do you go about finding summer job in Crete? The majority of jobs are advertised locally and by word of mouth, so those who are living on the island have an advantage as they are already here! Workers who come to the island for the summer season usually arrive between April and June to search on the spot for work.
Many North Europeans book a two week holiday at the beginning of the season and start searching the bar, café & taverna windows for ‘staff wanted’ notices.
Chat to local bar and taverna owners, make connections, and they will very likely point you in the direction of places looking for staff. In the busy resorts such as Malia this is the norm and hundreds of young people turn up looking for jobs each year.
For bartending you will need experience (particularly in mixing cocktails), while ‘PR’ jobs are plentiful (basically handing out flyers for a bar or club, and hanging around that bar encouraging passers-by to go in). Other options are waitressing or washing up in a bar, café of taverna.
It’s not just the busy resorts who take on staff, many tavernas and pensions in other locations across the island also seek English speaking workers, and in remote spots you are very likely to have accommodation thrown in. Just choose your location and ask around.
Local daily newspapers of Crete (such as the Patris in Heraklion and the Haniotika Nea in Chania) have a number of jobs in their classifieds section, but they do tend to be all in Greek. Occasionally there are jobs advertised in English.
Other job possibilities exist with tour operators, the larger of which employ reps, office administration staff and transfer reps, both from their home bases and locally. Some smaller specialist companies prefer to employ people who are living in Crete year round and know the island and the culture well. Generally vacancies are advertised February/ March, but late – starters may still be looking for staff in May and June. Some vacancies may also arise mid season, particularly during July and August when tour operators have an extra workload. Check out the tour operators’ websites to see who are recruiting, look out for adverts in local Crete newspapers, keep an eye on Crete website message boards, or enquire with the reps at the airport on arrivals days.
Car rental companies are another option. They usually employ a number of people during the summer season to deliver cars to airports and hotels. Email them (a web search for Crete Car Rent will bring up plenty of local companies) or ask around in their offices in Crete. You will usually need to be a minimum 23 years of age and have held a driving licence for at least a year.
The EURES network, for EU citizens, provides services for the benefit of workers throughout the EU. You can check for available jobs or register your CV online with EURES at the Europa website .
The postings for vacancies in Greece tend to be mostly in Greek, but there are EURES advisors based at OAED offices (the Greek Manpower Services) in Heraklion, Rethymnon and Chania who speak English and other languages. You can find their contact details on the above link. There are usually positions advertised for experienced chefs and waiters/resses amongst others.
There are also a number of vacancies advertised on the internet on various job websites and in general Greek forums. An internet search will bring up plenty of relevant websites.
Working Hours in Crete
Be clear as to the expectations of your working hours. There are virtually no 9 to 5 summer jobs in Crete; you may be expected to work long hours, shifts or nights, with few days off. You may only get one day off every two weeks, or even just one day a month. Make sure you clarify this, and that it is acceptable to you, before you accept a job. As you may only be doing the job for a few months employers may not think they are being unreasonable to expect you to have virtually no time off, but you might have other ideas!
Reps are usually expected to work as the need arises and this will include airport flight delays, (which can be anything from 1 to 12 hours, even overnight) as well as accompanying day / night excursions, or visiting doctors / hospital if tourists are taken ill, on top of your given ‘normal’ working hours. The large UK tour operators usually ask you to sign an opt out of the 48 hour average working week according to the UK Working Time Regulations. This should give you some idea of what might be expected of you!
Working for a car hire company will normally involve some night time deliveries to airports, also be prepared to work longer hours due to flight delays.
Pay for summer jobs in Crete
If you are arriving on spec bring enough money to get started; preferably at least enough to pay for your first month’s rent and living expenses.
Don’t expect to earn a fortune in Crete, the average pay is around 25 to 30 Euros per day, plus tips if you are doing a service job, and this will normally be enough to live on.
Officially employers should pay your National Insurance (IKA), but in reality most casual jobs are paid cash in hand.
Some tour operators pay staff locally in cash, while others pay from their home bases. Full time reps can expect to earn about 800 to 1,000 + euros per month. Part time and transfer reps are usually paid locally, cash in hand.
Office jobs (for tour operators, travel agents, car hire firms etc), as well as some shop and taverna jobs, usually pay monthly and some may include IKA national insurance. (If you are dealing with the public in a main street office, shop or taverna you are visible to the authorities, who do spot checks on employers to ensure that they are employing staff legally, i.e. with IKA. It is in the employer’s interests to pay IKA in these cases as they will be held liable for any illegalities, not the employee).
An average salary, with IKA paid, is 600 to 700 euros per month.
When looking for a summer job in Crete, watch out for…
The advantage of searching for a job locally, rather than over the internet, is that you will see exactly where you will be working, and for whom. But it’s still possible to fall into the hands of unscrupulous employers.
Women will generally find it easier to get a casual job than men. In her book “Work Your Way around the World”, Sue Griffiths quotes one woman’s experience of doing casual work on the island of Ios “It was very common to have worked at four different places in a week due to being sacked for not flirting with your boss”. She goes on to say “Undoubtedly the motives of some employers in hiring women are less than honourable. If you get bad vibes, move on.” Trust your instincts.
It’s a good idea to insist on being paid daily for casual work, at least until you get to know and trust your employer, as it is has been known for some rogue employers not to come up with the wages at the end of the week, or to dismiss an employee without any pay.
Accommodation in Crete
You shouldn’t have any problems finding accommodation. Again the best way to find it is to ask around locally, there are many apartments, studios and rooms available at reasonable rates for long term lets. Ask at the local café, bar, taverna or scour the local newspapers (with a translator to hand if need be – this could be the local cafe owner too!). The ‘for rent’ sign in Greek is ‘ENOIKIAZETAI’.
Rents start at about 250 euros a month for a small studio, and if you share an apartment with friends/colleagues, or just rent a room it will work out cheaper still. Some jobs may come with accommodation included.
Work Permits in Crete – The red tape
If you are an EU citizen you do not need a work permit, or since April 2006, a residence permit, so you are free to stay, and work, in Greece without any documentation (apart from your passport of course!). Other Nationalities should check with the Greek Embassy as to requirements for work and residence permits.
Summer jobs in Crete – Don’t forget…
For medical cover EU citizens are entitled to free health care in Greece on presentation of the European Health Insurance Card (which replaced the E111 form in January 2006), so don’t forget to obtain one in your home country before you come to Greece. You are also strongly advised to take out private health insurance which will also cover you for repatriation expenses in the event that you need to go back home in an emergency etc.
A job is a job wherever you are, and summer seasonal jobs can mean working long, tiring hours. Don’t expect it to be one long holiday, but do expect to enjoy to the full your time off on this beautiful island in the sun.
Wishing you a wonderful summer in Crete.
Carol Polioudaki is the author of the book “Living in Crete – A Guide to Living, Working, Retiring & Buying Property in Crete”