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Folders  |  Looking for work in Lisbon: the search for an employment (part 1)
Looking for work in Lisbon: the search for an employment (part 1)
Cédric Lecler
Looking for work in Lisbon: the search for an employment (part 1)
Looking for work in Lisbon / First part - the search for an employment

The employment situation in Portugal and Lisbon became much worse during the past years and within ten years we went from full employment to the unemployment rate around 8 % in 2007.
Obviously, it is more and more difficult to find a job, and it is particularly true if you, at the beginning, have such handicaps as not speaking Portuguese.

To put all the chances on your side, it is important to follow certain rules and to make the steps that could help you to find work. The objective of this article is to give you advice on how to approach the job search under the best conditions.

I) -  To each situation, its own action plan, because depending on your situation: whether you are a spouse of an expat, a foreigner wishing to settle in Lisbon, someone from one of the Portuguese territories, Portuguese-speaking or Portuguese, you won’t approach your job search in the same way. It will be necessary for you to consider your own strength and weaknesses.

II) - If you are married to an expat, you are not in the most favorable situation because you accumulate a number of handicaps: you do not speak Portuguese, you are rather a woman (the statistics show that women more often follow their husbands than the opposite; and in Portugal unemployment affects more women than men); finally, you are in Portugal for a limited period of time. No problem, we will help you to find a work despite everything.
If you are foreigner who would like to settle in Lisbon, not speaking the language would be an obstacle you will have to overcome. This handicap could be compensated for by the high level of training or special and rare qualifications that are in demand in Portugal. Or if you are a manual worker and can work where the communication between people is not essential.

The connections within your community (through the Embassy, Consulate, welcoming associations, etc...) can be important in order to find your first job. Thus, do not neglect these options. If you are Portuguese-speaking or a lusodescendant, your integration in the workplace will be easier, even though you wouldn’t be able to ignore local habits and rules.

Motivation to work and objectives
First of all, it is important to define the objectives in your search for work
We suggest that you read the article of Nathalie Martinez on this subject. In any case, you have to be very motivated and make a great effort.

Learn Portuguese (and data processing)
First of all, you have to learn Portuguese. It is an essential stage in finding work, even if you are likely to find employment where you can speak English, French or Spanish.
The level of proficiency depends on the type of work you are looking for. Certain trades do not require  very advance Portuguese (manual or very specialized trades); for others, advanced language skills are essential (for example, positions related to a commercial activity).

If you already speak a second language, especially Latin, it will be easier for you to learn Portuguese. You should find an appropriate course. We estimate that an intensive course (at least 4 hours a day) six months to one year, would provide you with a level, sufficient for understanding and being understood, and with an essential for work environment vocabulary.
Do not forget it is essential to practice the language and use any occasion to speak it. You must also read daily newspapers to become familiar with the Portuguese workplace terms.
In addition, we highly advise you to take a course (preferably in Portuguese) on using computer if you are not very good at it, since it became an important criteria for candidate selection. It is even more important if you’re trying to find employment where Portuguese language will not be essential. Here are some addresses and courses we recommend : Listing

Job search
There are several ways to find work, from “by word of mouth” to systematic research. Do not count, however, too much on your friends or acquaintances who, with little exception, will not be able to offer you what you’re looking for. 

Here are some tracks to direct you in your research :

Temporary agencies :

The temporary agencies often offer low qualified jobs (but being a new trend, they can also offer you interesting short term positions). Although they don’t pay well, do not neglect them: they can be your first step in the world of work. Certain positions require only limited knowledge of Portuguese. After that you will be able to say that you have experience in a Portuguese company. Listing

Recruiting companies :

You will be able to find on their websites a significant number of job offers. It is also a good way of making yourself known : On some websites you can post your resume or sign up for notifications in case the open position corresponds to the one you’re looking for. See the recruiting companies on our site.
Foreign private companies based in Lisbon and its surroundings Listing

Foreign private companies corresponding to your country/language are usually a good option because they may seek bilingual candidates (for contacts with the head office, translations and various projects, etc...).
You will find their co-ordinates in the directory, supplements of economic magazines and Chamber of Commerce publications. You should apply with a CV and a letter of motivation addressed to the human resources department.

Newspaper advertisements :

You will be able to find job offers in many daily or weekly newspapers. However, keep in mind that certain newspapers are particularly known for their employment sections : Expresso (managing positions), Diario de Notícias (managing and non-managing positions), Correio da Manha (non-managing positions). Job listings on the internet. Some newspapers have employment sections on their websites (especially Expresso).

Specialized websites also exist :

Website specializing in the tourism industry employment

Chambers of Commerce :

Some foreign Chambers of Commerce or commercial services in Embassies (see addresses of Chambers of Commerce and Embassies on our site : Listing ) have job offers on their websites, otherwise inquiries can be made at the location.

IEFP, (Instituto Emprego e Formação Profissional) Portuguese national employment agency) :  also offers jobs, but those in general are low qualified and low paid.

Finally, consult our employment section which posts various job offers all year long.

> Listing of the main Embassies in Lisbon
> Listing of the main Foreign Chambers of Commerce

Our next topics : How to write a CV, How to have a successful interview, Salaries in Lisbon, The labor law in Portugal.

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