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; 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. One in 10 graduates still leave the country for lack of work. However, one sector above all has seen massive growth; Lisbon’s call center services have grown so much over the last years that the city has become the call center 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 €20mn into an investment body called Portugal Ventures to help fund startups.
If you’re from 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%, and was predicted to rise to 1.5% 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%, 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; a quarter of the population has 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 defense. Other important sectors are banks and finance, accountancy, advertising, tourism, hotels, 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 defense. Call centers and customer service are also bustling sectors.
The main offices of most state organizations 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 tourism, hotels, catering, medical doctors in certain specialisms, IT professionals, and call center 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, the legal maximum. Staff work 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 are hierarchical with most decisions occuring at the top. 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. However, you must 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’re a non-EU/EEA citizen who wants to work in Lisbon then you may need a visa to enter Portugal; check with your local Portuguese embassy. You must 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’ll need to speak Portuguese to get a job with a Portuguese company in Lisbon. There are also 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 center industries.
Getting your qualifications recognized in Lisbon
If your home country is signed up to the Bologna Process (check here) your qualifications will be recognized in Lisbon. Otherwise, contact the Portuguese NARIC (the National Academic Recognition Information Centre) to get qualifications from your home country recognized 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 center 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, and Glasford Portugal 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 as well as job vacancies in Lisbon.
Working as an au pair 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
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’re sending paper applications, covering letters should be no longer than one side of A4. CVs may be up to four pages long.
- Attach a photograph.
- Don’t send 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 center 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.
Portugal’s main seaport is in Lisbon. It is also the most important economic market on the Iberian Peninsula. If you’re interested in oil refineries, textile mills, shipyards, steel, or fishing, this is the place for you.
Furthermore, Lisbon is the most developed mass media center in Portugal. Most influential Portuguese television networks, radio stations, and newspapers are there. If you have the education as well as the 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 languages, such as German, Spanish, French, and 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. There are many large companies, such as Hewlett Packard and Microsoft, alongside growth in call and contact centers. As more multinational companies set up in Portugal, foreigners with multiple languages could be in demand.
There are also many schools offering teaching positions in Portugal, in particular Lisbon. If you have experience in teaching, this would be an option for you.