Work in Portugal: Jobs in Lisbon
Find jobs in Lisbon with this guide on the current job market and vacancies, Portuguese work permits, and where to look for jobs in Lisbon.
Finding jobs in Lisbon has been more difficult in recent crisis years but it’s not impossible as there are still jobs available for the right international candidate. Here’s what you need to get started on your search for a job in Lisbon: information and advice on what jobs are available in Lisbon, and where to look to find them. You can also read more information in our guide to finding jobs in Portugal.
Working in Lisbon overview
Portugal’s economy may have seen its first (small) expansion in years but it’s far from recovered and one in 10 graduates still leave the country for lack of work. However, one sector above all has seen massive growth; Lisbon’s call centre services have grown so much over the last years that the city has become the call centre capital of Europe and nicknamed ‘ The Bangalore of Europe’. This means lots of job opportunities for multilingual expats, who can also enjoy the high standard of living in Lisbon and the glorious beaches close by.
Other jobs for expats include teaching English, tourism, property and in one of the shortage occupations (see below). The Portuguese government is also encouraging entrepreneurs to start up new businesses and has put some EUR 20mn into an investment body called Portugal Ventures to help fund startups.
If you are from a country inside the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) you can come to Lisbon to look for work; everyone else has to have an employment contract first.
Jobs in Lisbon
The job market in Lisbon
Portugal’s economy experienced its first year of growth since 2010 in 2014 with an expansion of 0.9 percent, and was predicted to rise to 1.5 percent by the end of 2015. One economist describes Portugal as the ‘Eurozone’s new growth star’. However, the capital Lisbon still has a high unemployment rate at 14 percent, with more than a third of those aged between 15 and 24 out of work.
Lisbon’s workforce is also one of the most highly qualified in Portugal, with a quarter of the population having a degree.
Portugal’s economy was originally based on fishing while today it’s based on the tertiary sector with a growing emphasis on technology.
Available jobs in Lisbon
Services account for more than 80 percent of the region’s employment, especially public services, social security, health, education, social services and defence. Other important sectors are banks and finance, accountancy, advertising, tourism, hotels and catering and private health services.
At the end of 2014, the biggest increases in jobs in Lisbon were in science and technology, finance, business consulting, public admin, social security and defence – and, as mentioned above, call centres and customer service.
The main offices of most state organisations are in Lisbon, for example, Portuguese Telecom and the largest energy supplier Energias de Portugal. It’s also where you’ll find a third of all Portugal’s universities and higher education colleges, as well as many research and development institutes. There are multi-nationals like Nokia, Samsung and Nestlé in the capital too.
Shortage occupations include seasonal jobs in the tourism, hotel and catering sector, medical doctors in certain specialisms, IT professionals and call centre managers. Holiday jobs can be a good stepping-stone to permanent employment. Be aware that salaries may be lower than in your home country.
Lisbon work environment and culture
The average working week is 40 hours (also the legal maximum), working from 9am to 7pm with a two-hour lunch break. There is a minimum of 22 days holiday a year plus public holidays.
Traditionally, companies can be hierarchical with most decisions made at the top, and meetings are often held to air opinions rather than reach a consensus. Businesses can be somewhat resistant to change, with less ‘thinking outside the box’ than in other countries. Personal relationships within the business setting are important so face-to-face meetings may be preferred to conference calls. Courtesy, politeness and respect are highly valued, and the dress code is smart. For more information, see Expatica’s guide to business culture in Portugal.
Visas and work permits in Lisbon
If you’re from the EU/EEA you can come and work in Lisbon without a visa or work permit but you will have to get a residence permit (Cartão de Residência) from the Portuguese Immigration Office (Serviços de Estangeiras e Fronteiras or SEF). You can find regional directorates here.
If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen who wants to work in Lisbon then you may need a visa to enter Portugal (check with the Portuguese embassy or consulate in your home country) and you will need to first get a work contract in order for an employer to get a work permit (Autorização de Trabalho) on your behalf. For more information see Expatica’s guide to Portuguese visas and residence permits.
You will need to speak Portuguese to get a job with a Portuguese company in Lisbon but there are opportunities for English speakers in the TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) sector. There are jobs for speakers of many different languages in the tourist, property and booming call centre industries.
Getting your qualifications recognised in Lisbon
If your home country is signed up to the Bologna Process (check here) your qualifications will be recognised in Lisbon. Otherwise, you can contact the Portuguese NARIC (the National Academic Recognition Information Centre) to get qualifications from your home country recognised in Lisbon. Check here to find out if you need to have a professional qualification validated in Portugal in order to work in Lisbon.
Finding jobs in Lisbon
Expatica jobs in Lisbon
You can find jobs for internationals on the Expatica jobs page, which has a constantly updated list of jobs in Lisbon and other cities in Portugal.
Job websites in Lisbon
Specialist job websites in Lisbon
- AcademicJobsEU – across the EU but including Lisbon
- Netempragos – IT
- JobsinLisbon – for English-speaking professionals
- Top Language Jobs – jobs in Lisbon for speakers of different languages, including call centre jobs
Recruitment agencies in Lisbon
Look in the Portuguese Yellow Pages under pessoal temporário and pessoal recrutamento e seleção. Agencies have vacancies for permanent and temporary positions and include Manpower, Geserfor and Workforce. Boyden, Glasford Portugal and Horton International are all Lisbon-based executive search companies.
EU and Portuguese government job search in Lisbon
Citizens of the EU/EEA can search for a job on the European Job Mobility Portal EURES; there are jobs across different sectors for speakers of various European languages. The Portuguese Public Employment Service (Instituto do Emprego) has information on training and job vacancies in Lisbon.
Teaching English and teaching in international schools in Lisbon
If you want to teach English in a language school or within a business setting in Lisbon, employers would normally expect you to a have a degree and to possess (or to take a course to acquire) a TEFL certificate. Many language teachers work on a part-time basis for a number of different clients before building up to a contract with one client. Click here for a list of language schools in Lisbon.
There may also be job opportunities for qualified teachers within one of Lisbon’s international schools. See Expatica’s list of international schools in Portugal.
Newspapers and other publications
Check out Portuguese newspapers like Correio de Manhã Diário de Notícias, Jornal de Notícias and Expresso (which share a jobs portal) for vacancies across Portugal including Lisbon.
Company websites in Lisbon
Look at company websites to find job vacancies or to find out whom to contact to make a speculative application to a company in Lisbon. See the Great Places to Work Institute’s list of best Workplaces Portugal 2015 for details of 24 leading Portuguese companies (many with offices in Lisbon) across different sectors. Addiontially, There are six companies in the 2015 rankings of the Forbes Global 2000 list: EDP-Energias de Portugal , Galp Energia, Jeronimo Martins (food retailing) and Caixa Ecomonica Montepio Geral (regional banks) all have their headquarters in Lisbon. For newer companies to contact, here’s a list of Lisbon startups.
Networking in Lisbon
Networking is very important in Lisbon especially among small and medium-sized businesses. For professional and business networking and contacts, see the Lisbon Professional Women’s Network, Lisbon Networking & Professional Conventions, Professional Networking Meet-ups in Lisbon and Eventbrite’s Lisbon Networking Events. Don’t forget the Portuguese sites of top social media networks, such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
Tips for applying for a job in Lisbon
- Application forms are common in Lisbon; some ask for standard information while others ask open questions.
- Firms in Lisbon often require online applications – make sure headings are clear and choose a plain font in case your application is scanned by the employer.
- If you are sending paper applications, covering letters should be no longer than one side of A4 while CVs may be up to four pages long.
- Attach a photograph.
- Don’t sent copies of educational certificates with your application but take them along if you get an interview.
- The interview process can sometimes include psychometric, psychological or technical tests.
- Don’t expect to have a speedy response after an interview – it may take some time to find out whether you were successful (or not).
Information on working in Lisbon
The wealthiest region in Portugal is the Lisbon province. Lisbon, the capital city, is the centre of most major business, production and economic sectors. In Lisbon, you can find diverse job offers – anything from childcare to fishing to the media. Speaking Portuguese is a great advantage when looking for a job.
The country's main seaport is located in Lisbon. It is also the most important economic market on the Iberian Peninsula. If you are interested in oil refineries, textile mills, shipyards, steel or fishing, this might be the place for you.
Furthermore, Lisbon is the most developed mass media centre in Portugal. Most of the well-known and influential Portuguese television networks, radio stations and newspapers are situated there. If you have the required education or work experience, you might be able to find a position in this dynamic environment.
The Portuguese job market also relies heavily on tourism and the service sector. Currently, these sectors provide the job market with the most vacancies. If you are a graduate, big cities such as Lisbon may be the best match for your situation and interests.
As mentioned before, speaking Portuguese is very often an essential criterion in employee recruitment. Moreover, if you know other foreign languages, such as German, Spanish, French, and of course English, may be a plus if you want to develop professionally in the tourism sector.
Being an expat worker in Lisbon may be an advantage, as there are many large international companies situated there, such as Hewlett Packard and Microsoft, alongside growth in call and contact centres. As more multi-national companies set up in Portugal, foreigners with multiple languages could be in demand.
If you are a native English speaker or you have an excellent knowledge of the English language, there are also many schools offering teaching positions in Portugal, in particular Lisbon. If you have experience in the teaching profession or are motivated and eager to gain some experience, this would be an option for you.
Find a job in Lisbon using Expatica's job search.
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