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How to find a job in Lisbon?

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Lisbon

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 20/05/2024, 19:15

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

You come to Lisbon for a short holiday, you spend a couple of days here and you start to think: ‘wow, life seems so great here. Good weather, amazing food. What else can you want?’ After coming back home, you really, really want to move to Lisbon. The only question is: will you be able to find a job in Lisbon? Are your qualifications and experience enough?

I will help you to answer these questions.

I have never worked in Lisbon. When I moved here I was already working online. I don’t have direct experience with finding a job in Lisbon. However, my partner and my friends are all so lucky to find employment in the capital. Thanks to them I have managed to write this article for you. I focussed mainly on Lisbon as I don’t really know anyone who works and lives in a different part of the country. I think that outside of Lisbon, the chances of finding a job are limited.

I wrote this post for those who think about moving to Lisbon and want to work for a company based in the city. You will find everything you need to know to plan your move here.

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    Is it worth working in Lisbon?

    I think that depends. If you are looking for a well paid job and additional benefits, like a medical insurance, you might be disappointed. The average salary in Portugal is quite low and even with good qualifications you will get more money somewhere else.

    On the other hand, if you’re looking for a place, where you can live close to the ocean, eat seafood everyday, drink wine and slow down, then Lisbon might be for you.

    I think it’s a great place to live if you don’t care about the money or making a great career.

    The job market in Lisbon

    Portugal is not a rich country. It is not as developed as Germany or the UK. The job market in the whole country is quite small and doesn’t give you the same opportunities as in other countries. Unemployment is still high, about 12 percent. The average salary is 500 Euros. In the capital it’s a little higher – 600-800 Euros.

    In Lisbon, more than in other towns and cities, the state of the economy can be seen very clearly. There are a lot of homeless people, the streets are dirty and neglected. Lisbon is the capital city, it’s a big settlement with a lot of different people. It’s a mix of everything.

    As a foreigner, you will be able to find a job easier here than in any other cities in the country. Lisbon is famous for its startup scene. It makes it easier for them to open their businesses. What comes with that – a lot of young, fast developing companies are moving to Lisbon and this gives employment opportunities not only for the Portuguese but also those that come here from other countries.

    Tourism is one of the most important industries in Portugal and Lisbon is the main spot, where tourists come. It’s possible to find a job in restaurants and bars, or as a tourist guide. However, you need to be prepared for low salaries, hard work and difficulties if you don’t know the language.

    You can also try to find a job as an English teacher in langauge schools. Due to a high number of tourists, English is a very important language.

    What if I don’t know Portuguese? Can I still find a job?

    Yes and no.

    If you speak English fluently and have an experience in sectors such as marketing, sales and management, you can find a job in one of the startups or in one of the international companies. Nestle, Samsung, Nokia and Mercedes are a few bigger corporations operating in Lisbon. They employ people who don’t speak Portuguese.

    It might be more difficult in other sectors. If you know Spanish or German, you can look for a position as a tourist guide. The wages here are quite low tho.

    Knowing Portuguese will make things easier for you. You don’t have to limit yourself to startups and tourism industries. Looking for a job in other sectors will be less stressful and much easier.

    Remember that you can take Portuguese lessons. Try out Italki. I use them for my Thai lessons and I’m very happy with them. Cheaper lessons can be found in Lisbon in language schools.

    The employment law in Portugal

    Employees usually work 40 hours per week (8 hours per day). The law allows longer hours, up to 60 hours per week.

    The full time employees have the right to 22 days of holiday, plus 9 bank holidays.

    The contracts in Portugal are similar to those that can be seen all over Europe. There are full time, part time and based on a project contracts. If you don’t know Portuguese and you got a contract that wasn’t translated into English, find a good interpreter, or ask someone to help you out with understanding everything. Never sign anything you don’t understand.

    Formalities

    Do you want to work in Lisbon legally? Here are things you need to remember about!

    Registrations and residency card

    If you don’t work in Portugal, you can be in the country for 3 months without registering. After 3 months you need to go to your area council (junta) and register. You have 30 days to register after the 3 months are over. (This applies to European Union citizens. Unfortunately, I don’t know how this works with other countries).

    As an European Union member, you don’t need a work visa. If you have a job here, you need to apply for a residency card (Cartão de Residencia) in 6 months. If you don’t do it, you might face a fine.

    NIF

    Having a NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal or Número de Contribuinte) is very useful. You will need it to do any formalities in Portugal.

    To get it you need a proof of a residency from your own country. It might be your utility bill, your driving licence or your bank statement. If needed, you will need to translate it into Portuguese. Take this document with you to Finanças. It’s best to go there 20 minutes before opening. The queues are very long. Fill in a form. You should get your NIF on the same day.

    Having a NIF gives you the right to pay taxes in Portugal and using free healthcare. You will be asked for it every time you do shopping. At the end of the year you will get a tax return. The amount can vary from 300 up to 1000 Euros, depending on where you work.

    A bank account

    It’s easy to open a bank account. Go to your nearest branch. Take your contract and NIF with you. You should be able to open an account straight away.

    Where to look for a job in Lisbon?

    • LinkedIn – create a good profile. Find HR representatives of the companies you’re thinking about. Send them a message asking for any possible positions. You can also look for a job in the job opportunities secion.
    • Expatica Jobs in Portugal – there are some job ads from all over Portugal.
    • Portuguese Public Employment Service – a government website, where you will find some job offers.
    • Indeed – a job site with ads from all over the world.
    • NewspapersCordeiro de Manhã, Diário de Notícias and other Portuguese newspapers have job offers.
    • Facebook groups – try asking there, but use the search option first.

    The job application process in Lisbon

    • You might be asked to fill in an application form. It’s more and more common in Portugal.
    • Many companies ask for online applications.
    • Prepare a good CV. It shouldn’t be longer than 4 pages A4. A cover letter shouldn’t be longer than one page A4.
    • Don’t send a copy of your diplomas. You can take them with you to a job interview.
    • May job interviews are done online through Skype or Zoom. You don’t need to be in Portugal to be able to apply for jobs.
    • Sometimes it takes a long time to hear back from your potential employer. Be patient.

    The summary

    You shouldn’t come to Lisbon if you want to earn a good salary and live on a high level. Living and working here is for those that want a relaxed lifestyle, don’t want to rush and want to enjoy warm climate, food food and cheap wine.

    Finding a job in Lisbon isn’t easy. The best chances have those that know English and at least one more language and have an experience in tourism, marketing, sales or IT. They can find a job even before moving to Lisbon.

    Do you have any questions? Would you like to share your experiences or your point of view? Don’t be shy! Leave a comment!