Updated 3 years ago

Moving to Portugal means adapting to a new lifestyle and a new working environment. Here is an overview of the country's labor market.

In January 2014, Portugal's unemployment rate stood at 15.3% while its population amounted to 10,477,800 inhabitants. In fact, 15% of men and 15.7% of women were unemployed. Figures are even more alarming regarding youth unemployment. According to official statistics, 34.7% of youth were unemployed during the same period.

However, some sectors in Portugal remain quite dynamic in spite of the high unemployment rate. The world economic crisis has not affected the whole labor market. Hence, you still have some chances of finding a job in the country, provided you have the required qualifications and skills.

Foreigners are advised to start their job search in Lisbon, Portugal's capital city, as well as in neighboring cities. In fact, most expatriates have settled there due to the opportunities which are available in these regions.


If you wish to settle in Portugal for more than three months and work there, you will have to obtain an authorization of stay. You should inquire with the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate in your home country before proceeding. Note that conditions may vary for:

  • European Union citizens who are in the Schengen space
  • European Union citizens who are not in the Schengen space
  • non-European Union citizens.

Labor market

Some sectors still require foreign expertise despite the world economic crisis. It is better to inquire on the labor market's requirements, unless you have been transferred to your company's Portuguese branch. The most dynamic and recruiting sectors are call centers, health care, information and communication technology, tourism and hospitality and agriculture.

Indeed, call centers, contact centers and shared service centers are constantly recruiting bilingual, trilingual and multilingual young professionals. You can apply for a job if you have a good command of more than two foreign languages. The same also applies to the tourism, hospitality and catering field. A good command of the Portuguese languages, as well as other foreign languages, is an advantage. You are likely to be hired as a barman, cook, waiter, etc., particularly during peak seasons.

Many jobs are also available for experienced and skilled professionals in the information and communication technology and engineering fields. Moreover, hospitals and clinics are understaffed. There are constantly in need of qualified nurses, general and specialized doctors. However, you must have a good command of the Portuguese language to be hired in the health care field so as to better communicate with the public.

Finally, you can also find a job in the agricultural sector, including horticultural products and fruit picking.

Applying for a job


Before applying for a job, it is important to prepare a detailed and updated resume. It is best to update your resume according to Portuguese norms so as to hook up employers. You resume must be in English or in Portuguese, divided into a maximum of four parts over not more than two pages if you have 10 years professional experience and not more than three pages if you have 10 to 20 years of experience. The resume has to be typewritten, without any spelling or grammar mistake and may be printed.

Your resume's first paragraph must contain your civil status details while the second paragraph will mention your strengths and your objectives. The third part, dedicated to the “Formação” will give details on your qualifications and skills. Note that the Portuguese labor market seeks highly qualified and competent candidates. Finally, the “Experiência professional” will list your professional experience with details. Do not hesitate to also write a bit about your personal details such as your hobbies, etc.

Cover letter

The Portuguese cover letter is quite standard, unlike in many other countries, and it is not as important. The cover letter is generally short, mentioning the candidate's name and his motivation to apply for the offered job. Note that it is not compulsory. However, if you still wish to send a cover letter, it should be clearly handwritten on not more than a page.

Labor conditions

Working hours

Workers are legally entitled to a maximum of 48 hours working week and a maximum of 10 hours working day. Night shifts generally start as from 9 pm to end at 6 am the next morning. You may work on Saturdays but Sundays are considered to be an official weekly holiday.


Once you have completed a year's employment, you will be entitled to 22 paid holidays per year. Those who have been more regular in their work with a low absenteeism rate may be eligible to three additional holidays per year.

Note that there are 13 public holidays in Portugal plus two optional holidays.


The retirement age in Portugal has been fixed at 65 years. You are legally authorized to work as from 16 years.

Cost of living

The Portuguese minimum wage is lower compared to other European and foreign countries. The latter is fixed at 485 euros. You will then have to calculate your monthly expenses in terms of rent, bills, transport, etc. However, the cost of living in Portugal is more affordable than in many surrounding countries.

 Useful links:

Expat.com www.expat.com/en/jobs
Indeed Portugal www.indeed.pt
Expressoemprego expressoemprego.pt
Empregos online www.empregosonline.pt
Net Emprego www.netemprego.gov.pt
Teleperformance Portugal www.teleperformance.pt
Eures – Portugal ec.europa.eu
IEFP – Professional Training Institute www.iefp.pt
Ministry of Solidarity, Employment and Social Security www.portugal.gov.pt

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.