Finding a Job, CVs, Interviews and Etiquette for Expats in Brazil

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: February 2015

Finding a Job

Brazil’s leading cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, are the two best places to look for work. With the aid of online job portals, you can start your job search before you leave your home country. They also enable you to filter your search according to job function, industry, salary and location, or search for keywords. English-language Brazilian job portals include:

Portuguese-only job portals are more common, and include:

In addition, the government's job search website is the Sistema Nacional de Emprego (SINE, ‘National Employment System’). SINE has drop-in centres in all Brazilian cities and large towns. Another national website for job seekers is the Banco Nacional de Empregos (‘National Job Bank’), which is also only available in Portuguese.

As you may have gathered, it is important to have a good command of Portuguese to get a job in Brazil. Speaking Spanish will help to some degree as it is very similar to Portuguese and some locals speak it. Other locals do speak languages such as German and Japanese, but fluency in English, though increasing, is rather rare.

Jobseekers can also turn to private recruitment agencies. Before committing yourself, you should check that the agency is accredited and look at some online reviews. For a comprehensive list of recruitment agencies in Brazil, see the Employment Agencies website.

Once you have arrived in Brazil, you can also look in newspapers and browse notice boards in shops. As in most countries, networking is very important, and if you do have any connections, you should not hesitate to make use of them. Lastly, keep an eye out for career fairs and exhibitions, and look at ‘Vacancies’ sections on the websites of organisations that interest you. You might also want to make speculative applications to these organisations. For more information on job prospects in Brazil, see Work Culture and Labour Market.



As your curriculum vitae or CV (Portuguese currículo) is an introduction to a potential employer, it is essential to make it strong, highlighting your academic qualifications and professional experience. Unless it is expressly stated otherwise, you should write your CV in Portuguese. A Brazilian CV needs to be concise at one or two pages long; there should be no extraneous details. You should attach a recent photograph at the top right.

The CV must be well structured. You should first list your personal details: your name, date of birth, telephone number and email address. The main body of your CV should contain sections on Employment History (or Work Experience), Education and Training, IT Skills, Language Skills, Voluntary Work, Scholarships and Interests as appropriate.

Arrange education and employment history sections in reverse chronological order, accounting for any gaps. You can leave out early education and focus on the qualifications that are relevant to the job. Include dates attended, the name of the educational institution, study programme, degree obtained and your study subject. Employment history should include start and end dates, job title and name of the organisation you worked for. Include brief details of primary responsibilities in your recent jobs.

In all correspondence with your prospective employer, check that your spelling and grammar are correct, avoid using informal language and explain any abbreviations used. There is additional information on writing CVs in Brazil on the Live in Brazil site.


Cover Letters

Brazilian employers often require a cover letter. This should be drawn up as a formal business letter and no longer than one A4 page long. The letter should explain your motivation for applying for the position, demonstrate how your skills and qualifications match the employer’s requirements and highlight what you will bring to that particular role. When writing cover letters, pay attention to the requirements mentioned in the job advertisement and demonstrate how you fulfil them.



When preparing for a job interview, it is crucial to show that you understand how the organisation operates, what its objectives are and how you could contribute to its success. Though most interviews take place in person, in recent years, telephone and Skype interviews have become common, especially when the candidate is abroad at the time of interview.

Interviews in Brazil vary in length, interviewing technique and size of the panel though there are some common features. The Brazilians are famously relaxed and their interviewing style usually reflects this. Personal skills are considered very important in Brazil, sometimes even more important than qualifications. Despite this more personable interviewing style, you will need to remain on the ball. Naturally, the relaxed attitude does not extend to the dress code, which is as formal as elsewhere.

In many interviews, the first question is ldquo;Tell me about yourself”, after which they expect you to give a brief summary of your background and current situation. The questions that follow will test how your skills match the interviewers’ requirements. This gives you the opportunity to show your motivation and argue why you are a good candidate for the position. To help with this, it is important to know the technical terms for your position in Portuguese. Note that interviewers may ask cunning questions that probe your ability to think on the spot. Finally, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions about your potential future role.

Some Brazil-based international companies and large domestic companies use assessment centres for recruiting purposes. These assessments last a day or two and include tasks that test your suitability for the position, such as presentations, group activities and written tests. For more information on interviewing techniques and sample interview questions, see this Just Brazil webpage.



When attending a job interview, remember that punctuality is key! It is better to arrive a few minutes early than keep your potential employer waiting. Another important rule is to dress appropriately. Even if the organisation does not have a specific dress code, it is still best to choose business-wear in discreet colours. Women should avoid using eye-catching jewellery or heavy make-up. Throughout the interview, make sure to sit up straight and make appropriate eye contact with the interviewers. Show that you are professional and do not forget that a smile can take you a long way!

Once you have successfully obtained a job, you may be eligible for a work permit and residence visa. For more information on how to apply for work permits, see Expats Working in our Immigration section.