Portugal - why work abroad?

Country: Portugal
Official languages: Portuguese
Government: Parliamentary republic
Population: 10.5 million
Capital: Lisbon
Currency: euro (EUR)
Member EU or EEA: EU
Phone code: +351
Internet code: .pt

Why this country?

Portugal and its territories - the Azores and Madeira - are popular tourist destinations. Besides tourism, services are the largest employers. Manufacturing employs less than 20 % of the workforce. It is based on traditional products such as textiles, clothing, footwear, cork, wood products, beverages, ceramics, glass, fish canning, metalworking, oil refining and chemicals. The country has increased its role in Europe's automotive sector and has a world- class mould-making industry.

Almost 4 in 10 young people are out of work and wages are among the lowest per capita in the EU. Nevertheless, there is demand in specific sectors, including seasonal work in tourism and agriculture; doctors; specialist IT workers; and professionals with language skills that are difficult to find in Portugal.

Looking for work?

Job vacancies are published in newspapers, at job centres, private employment agencies, pro­fessional and trade union associations, super­markets, municipalities, parishes, other public facilities and, increasingly, via (public and pri­vate) online job banks.

Some jobseekers are increasingly adopting a proactive approach, applying spontaneously, placing adverts, posting CVs on websites and at university careers offices, using social media, and even setting up web pages.

In a country where more than 90 % of firms are small, personal contacts are still one of the most effective means of finding out about vacancies and reaching a potential employer. If you have a social network in Portugal, don't be shy to use it.

Tips for job applications?

It is almost impossible to meet all the require­ments set out in some job adverts. Do not be put off by this; if you meet most of them, do not hesitate to apply. Portuguese employers can be flexible on this matter.

Most applications require a covering letter and a CV (although the letter may be omitted if it is not explicitly requested). Prepare your CV in Portuguese if possible. It should be clear and short (no more than two pages) and adjusted to each application.

When applying by e-mail, include the covering letter directly in the body of the e-mail. Only the CV should be attached. Write short paragraphs, and avoid informal symbols and abbreviations commonly used in e-mail and text messages. If applying by post, the covering letter should be no longer than one A4 side and typed.

Take care to respect deadlines, particularly if you are applying from abroad. And aim to sub­mit your application early, in order to participate from the beginning of the selection process and be sure that the company has not already cho­sen a candidate.

Spontaneous applications can be very useful. Many Portuguese companies will archive CVs they receive and look first through these when they have a vacancy, to save on the time and cost of placing adverts.

Is it standard to include a photo on the CV?

A passport-sized professional-style photo on the CV may be useful, although it is not general practice.

Is there a preference for handwritten applications?

Handwritten applications have gradually been abandoned in recent years, although some employers may still prefer them. Try to check this if you have a preliminary phone contact.

Is the Europass format CV widely used and accepted?

Portuguese employers are getting used to the Europass CV format, although they still might prefer the Portuguese style CV, on two to three pages maximum.

Making contact by phone

Call only if this approach is suggested in the advertisement. If you do so, try to speak Portuguese and present yourself clearly; ask whom you should speak to and address them by name. Have your CV to hand and be ready to present yourself and answer questions. Pre¬pare your own pertinent questions and note down any interview arrangements. If arranging an interview, ask which documents you need to bring with you.

Do I need to send diplomas with my application?

Not unless it is mentioned in the advertisement. Take a copy to the interview, however. If your application is successful, documents may be requested when formalising the contract.

When taking copies of diplomas or qualifi­cations to the interview, be selective, and be aware that Portuguese employers may be unfamiliar with your country of origin's edu­cation and training system and the relevant knowledge and skills content. Documents such as the Europass diploma supplement or certifi­cate supplement may be more useful.

Should I supply references, letters of recommendation or proof of good conduct?

It is not common practice in Portugal to ask for references or to go through letters of recommendation, although some employers might see these as a plus.

Usual length of time between publication of the vacancy and start of the job

Job adverts may indicate the job is to start 'as soon as possible’, but a selection procedure takes on average 2 to 3 months. Low-skilled or temporary jobs can be filled in under a week.

Preparing for the interview

An interview typically takes no longer than 45 minutes. Tests may take half a day, breaks included.

Dress-code tips

Dress for the occasion. Even if smart dress is not important for the job, it will show your professionalism and respect for the employer or interviewer. Avoid too much make-up or jewellery, piercings, visible tattoos and radical hairstyles.

Who will be there?

Generally one interviewer.

Do we shake hands?

Yes, you should shake hands on invitation.

Is there a typical interview structure?

There is no typical structure, although you might expect questions on:

personal background (where you were born, where you studied, family, etc.);

your CV: your educational/professional back­ground, professional experience and other activities/hobbies;

your motivation with regards to the company and the job; and

your personal and social skills (open questions on yourself your attitudes, your qualities, your weaknesses).

At the second stage, the interviewer will give you more information on the company and the role. At this point, you may ask about auton­omy and responsibility levels, travelling require­ments, working hours, expected wage, etc.

At the end, the employer will usually say when you will be informed of their decision. You should then thank them for the opportunity to meet.

Recruitment interviews using video-conferenc­ing and Skype are not very common, but are likely to be increasingly used for the first selec­tion with international candidates.

When is a question out of bounds?

Questions about religious affiliation, political preferences and sexual orientation are considered to be strictly private matters. There is, however, a general perception that these are more frequently addressed (even though in a subtle way) than in some other European countries.

Negotiating your pay and benefits

Pay is usually expressed on a monthly basis. Remember that in regular employment in Por­tugal, you are paid for 14 months per year (i.e. including holiday pay and Christmas bonuses, usually paid in May/June and November/ December respectively), although this is pres­ently taking other forms following excep­tional measures by the government. If you are recruited by a multinational company, pay may be negotiated as an annual package, including subsidies and other fringe benefits.

Annual productivity bonuses are not common, although there may be scope for a bonus pay­ment at the end of the year depending on prof­its. Only in medium-sized to large companies, mostly multinationals, are annual bonuses well integrated in remuneration policies.

Other benefits might be: improved health insur­ance cover or medical services, in the case of larger companies; and a mobile phone and company car, mostly for senior staff (man­agers and directors), although this practice is declining.

Is a trial period likely?

It is becoming increasingly common. Some employers prefer to use short-term (e.g. 3- to 6-month) contracts to trial an employee.

How long is the standard probationary period?

The legal probationary period varies according to contract length and complexity of the role. For short-term contracts, it may be up to 1 month. For permanent contracts, it is usually between 3 and 6 months.

Will the employer cover my costs for attending an interview?

This is not common, unless the employer is desperately looking for your particular skills, professional qualification or profile.

When will I hear the result?

It is not unusual to receive no reply to an application. If you are interviewed, you might ask when you can expect to be informed of the decision. If the employer does not respond within this period, a polite reminder phone call can reiterate your interest. You should not be too insistent though.

Getting feedback and further follow-up

It is not common to ask for feedback following an interview.

How early should I arrive for the interview?

Try to arrive at least 10 minutes before the interview.

last modification: 2014-09-03 12:28:17
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