How to look for work in Sao Paulo


In Europe and North America, finding work through recruitment agencies and magazine or newspaper ads is the norm. In Brazil however, networking and contacts are the keys to finding work. Networking is not always easy: start out by finding companies in the fields you are interested in, both multinationals and nationals, and ideally try to find out whether Brazilian friends, or contacts you have already made in the country, know anyone working in your field. Ask people you know how they would recommend making contacts. Contacting companies directly is of course an option – start out by contacting their Human Resources manager.

A good starting point in your job hunt is the classified sections of the daily and weekend newspapers. In addition “job wanted” ads can often be placed for free, and it usually doesn’t cost anything to register with an employment or recruitment agency either. The Sistema Nacional de Emprego offers work of all types throughout Brazil with walk-in centres and an extensive website for job seekers and employers. You can search their online database by location and job type, as well as post your curriculum vitae.

Since Sao Paulo is such a major commercial centre a popular choice for foreigners looking for work is teaching a foreign language. English, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese are the most in demand. You will be in a better position to find work and charge more for classes if you already have a teaching qualification, experience and/or a university degree.

The following links will also be of use to job hunters in Sao Paulo:

Note that any form of paid work in Brazil requires you to have a work permit (Autorização de Trabalho).Work visas can be obtained through your embassy or consulate under the authority of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

You should be aware that it’s not easy for foreigners to find a job in Brazil. Firstly there is the visa issue: it can become complicated to continuously extend your work visa in order to stay at your job. Also, there are many well educated and well trained Brazilians who cannot find a job and there are more university graduates looking for work than the job market can cater for. Locals obviously have the advantage of speaking the language fluently, and they are familiar with Brazil’s sometimes labyrinthine bureaucratic processes. In addition, Brazilians are usually ready to the job for far less money than a foreign worker.

The following tips will be of great help in your search for work in Brazil:

Besides your professional capabilities, speaking good Portuguese is important if not essential. "It isn‘t what you know, it‘s who you know" – networking is the most important element in your job search. Focus on chambers of commerce or expat societies to begin with.

Embassies and consulates can also be of help – the British Embassy, for example, has a list of British-owned companies on their web site

The ideal situation is to find work with a company in your home country and then be posted to Brazil, then the visa problem is dealt with, along with many financial considerations. Sales managers are in demand São Paulo. For this you'll need good interpersonal skills, be ready to travel, and be able to work independently. Working on the beaches of Brazil as an au pair is a popular option (similar experience and references will be required). If you’re looking at teaching English in Brazil, aim to get a recognised teaching certificate. The mining and oil exploitation industries are always in need of engineers, geologists and mining specialists.

Your CV

A job application in Brazil should include a one-page cover letter, and a CV of no more than two pages. It is not necessary to attach grade transcripts, copies of diplomas or references in the first instance. Begin your CV with your personal contact information: street address, phone and fax numbers, e-mail address.

Next, under the heading "Education," list the names and locations of your schools, colleges or universities, years of attendance, subjects studied, certificates and/or degrees obtained. Also list additional courses, periods of study or training abroad and any specialized training you may have received such as computer skills or in a foreign language.

Next list your work experience: for each position give dates of employment, the name of your employer, your title, your responsibilities and achievements. This should be in reverse chronological order, with an explanation of any gaps in employment. Promotions, awards, special recognitions should be highlighted. Then list professional affiliations that are relevant to your work, and describe your involvement within the organizations.

Mention your civil status (are you married? what is your citizenship?). At the end provide a list of previous employers or similar who could act as referees if and when required.

Many Brazilian employers will accept job applications by e-mail or fax.


When you’re eventually invited for interview be sure to have business cards available both in Portuguese and your native language. Wear well-cut, conservative clothing. Brazilians are very fashion conscious. Expect a bit of small-talk about the weather, sports, the traffic or similar before beginning the formal discussion.

Note that while most Brazilians have warm personalities, they are not extroverts: err on the modest side; appearing over-ambitious, pretentious or aggressive will not be to your advantage. Unfortunately, although treated respectfully, women do not often hold positions of responsibility in Brazil. Avoid asking questions about salary or benefits early in the process. At the end of the interview thank the interviewers for their time and consider sending a thank-you note afterwards.

Update 13/12/2010


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