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Finding a job

How to apply for a job


Application letters, either in response to an advertisement or presenting an unsolicited application, are normally short and simple and never more than or equivalent to one A4 page. The content should highlight (by means of key words, for example) how your experience, qualifications and expectations correspond to the professional profile sought by the employer. A curriculum vitae (CV) should also be attached. These letters are increasingly being replaced by the text in the email to which the CV is attached.

Copies of qualification certificates are not required until later, upon actual recruitment. On average, the recruitment process may take close to 1 to 2 months (depending on the complexity of the job and the urgency in filling the vacancy).

Application forms are widely used for applicants with or without qualifications, and come in many varieties (increasingly in an online format). Some are fairly standardised, while others focus mainly on previous professional experience and invite open-ended replies. Standard questions cover personal information, education, experience and knowledge of languages. 

A Portuguese CV is generally presented in reverse chronological order (starting with experience and qualifications acquired more recently), and has one or two pages. The functional model (for professionals with broad experience) and the infographic model (on one page, particularly for young people with less professional experience) are also increasingly used. The inclusion of a photograph is very often appreciated. 

The following points should be mentioned on a CV: 1. Personal details (address – city and country, telephone or mobile number, email address, LinkedIn page, Skype address, etc.); 2. Professional experience; 3. Education (highest level of schooling); 4. Vocational training (different category from initial education; list training courses and internships, and mention a professional card / memberships of professional associations where applicable ); 5. Other skills (foreign language and IT skills, driving licence where applicable, particularly when it is a requirement of the offer); 6. Leisure activities / personal interests (optional).

After applying for a job (by email, application form or letter), the next step is the interview, which is the main selection technique. Interviewers place most value on professional experience, vocational training, knowledge of the company and its main sector of activity and your skills (technical, organisational, social). You can take certain documents to the interview, i.e. diplomas, evidence of prior experience (work certificates), recommendations from former employers and other documents which you believe will support you – but you should only present them when asked by the interviewer.

Care with your personal appearance (clothes, haircut, etc.) can be important at interviews. Avoid showing any piercings, for example, and be careful with the visibility of tattoos.

The use of personality tests is common in Portugal, particularly in large companies or when recruitment is carried out by recruitment agencies or selection and recruitment consultants.

Aptitude and psychometric tests are normally used for middle management applicants. Graphology is sometimes used (prior permission of the applicant is not required).

Medical examinations may be requested for some jobs before a candidate is taken on. Only the doctor concerned can declare whether the candidate meets the medical requirements for the work to be undertaken.


Text last edited on: 10/2020