How to get a job in Rio de Janeiro: 8 steps

12.10.17
9 minute read
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Rio de Janeiro is one of the richest cities in Latin America, with a diverse economy covering finance, manufacturing and tourism among its developed sectors. As well as benefiting from rich natural resources, Brazil also has a large population, making businesses truly scaleable. On top of this, Rio in particular is still basking in its role hosting the 2014 football world cup, and 2016 olympics, which boosted the tourist sector to nearly 10% of local GDP.

What’s possibly most impressive about Rio is the pace of economic growth, which was one of the arguments in favour of the city hosting the recent Olympics. Having been the capital of Brazil for centuries before the title was transferred to Brasilia in 1960, Rio is home to many long established local and global companies who support the city’s economic growth and relative stability.

Like all of the large cities in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro has a large expat population, which is well catered for socially and in terms of career opportunities. If you’re thinking of a move to Brazil, for the lifestyle or to give your career a boost, then check this guide to getting a job in Rio.

1. Make sure you’re eligible to work in Rio de Janeiro

Before you start to look for a job in Rio de Janeiro, check if there are any steps you need to take before you're able to work legally there.

Brazil has reciprocal arrangements with many countries (with the notable exception of America), which allow visa free entry for short term tourist visits. However, in most cases, in order to work legally you'll need both a residence permit and a work visa, which have to be applied for through your local Brazilian embassy.

Usually you'll need to have a solid job offer before you can apply for the work visa, but you can arrange your residence permit first, and then move onto the work permit once your job is confirmed. Your employer will have to start the process with the Ministry of Labour, and you can track the progress of your visa application online through the visa portal.

In some cases you might need to leave and then re-enter the country to validate your new permits. For example, this applies if you were in Brazil on a tourist visa and wish to change it to a work visa. The process is relatively complex, so taking the advice of your local embassy (and considering employing the services of an immigration attorney or agent) is advisable.

2. Consider the types of available jobs

It's a good idea to research the local economy in Rio, to get a sense for the types of jobs that might be available for you.

Mining, oil and Gas are large industries in Rio, meaning that there are jobs in these sectors including engineering and the support functions of large businesses. GE Global Research has a facility in Rio de Janeiro and recruit roles across various functions, and Petrobras is also a prominent feature in Rio.

Rio jobs in finance can be found through a specialist recruiter, or a specific search on a popular job board. Because there are so many large international companies with a presence in Rio, finance jobs in a corporate environment are commonly available at a range of different levels.

Education is a good place to look for jobs for English speakers in Brazil. There are opportunities to work in established schools or as a private teacher or tutor in Rio de Janeiro. Your chances are boosted if you have a relevant qualification, experience, or are a native English speaker.

Otherwise, if you're wanting to work while you explore the city, looking for a job at a hotel, hostel, or bed and breakfast is a good idea. Rio has a developed tourist industry, so there are often hospitality sector vacancies and fluency in different languages is a bonus.

Of course, you’ll want to know more about the salaries and costs of living in Brazil, and specifically Rio de Janeiro. If you have a company or role in mind, Glassdoor can be a great way of gaining insight into the company culture and likely salary ranges on offer. For cost of living information compared to your current home, try Numbeo, where you can compare costs of rent, groceries, utilities and other daily expenses.

3. Look online

When it comes to job hunting, the internet is your friend. Aside from the most popular job sites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster which cover more or less the entire globe, there are also lots of local sites to choose from.

If you’re applying from abroad, make sure you state in your application whether you're available for an interview locally, and when you think you'll arrive in Brazil. It’s worth also specifying your visa status so the employer can take that into account.

Try these Rio de Janeiro specific job sites as a starting point:

  • For English speaking jobs in Rio, try the Jobs in Rio site, which offers a great range of positions
  • If language isn’t an issue (or if you have a friendly translator on hand), try Catho
  • Craigslist is a popular place for ads for jobs, including great jobs for Americans in Brazil, in teaching and education, for example. Be warned - there are also plenty of scammers to be found here
  • People consulting is another option for jobs in the IT sector specifically.

4. Find a recruiter to help with your job hunt

Big companies in Rio De Janeiro fight for top talent, and recruitment agencies help them connect with the job seekers that are right for them. If you're looking for a job as a foreigner in Brazil - and especially if you want a more senior role, talking to an agent can really help to boost your search.

Some of the larger and more popular agents in Rio de Janeiro include:

  • Michael Page is a global recruitment firm working in Rio. They’ve experience working with Americans and other expat clients, and cover a broad range of sectors.
  • Similarly, Amrop has offices in both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and cover many parts of the globe. They’re well established in Brazil.
  • Mercuri Urval have a 40 year history for working in recruitment and executive search, and know the local Rio market well. They can give advice to new arrivals as well as supporting the job search process.

Although there are lots of great recruitment firms in Rio, there are also those who would happily rip you off - be wary of people who say they can deliver extraordinary results. It’s a good idea to check out the credentials of any agency you choose to use, and you shouldn’t ever hand over cash to simply be put in touch with an employer.

5. Do some networking

Like in many other places who you know, is every bit as important as what you know, in Rio. It's worth putting extra effort into finding some local contacts, even before you arrive. A huge number of jobs are filled through word of mouth, meaning your network is your most important tool when you’re looking for a new position. This can feel like a challenge when you’re also moving to a new city, but don’t panic. Start by building your network online, joining groups active in your field in Rio de Janeiro on professional sites like LinkedIn.

Depending on your work area, you might also benefit from joining a local chamber of commerce or business networking group. Look for Chambers which are designed to promote trade and cooperation between your home country and Brazil, such as the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce. They’re likely to have local connections that they can link you with, as well as running networking and information sharing events.

Check out sites like Meetup that specialise in bringing like-minded people together for ideas, or look for relevant groups depending on your professional interest, like this group for startup founders in Rio. You can also find a good list of various leisure and work based clubs and associations for expats in Rio de Janeiro.

6. Get your CV Rio de Janeiro ready

Having a stand out CV is crucial when you’re looking for a new job. Make sure it’s up to date, error free, and easy to read, or busy recruiters will likely put you to the bottom of their call pile. Getting a job in Rio de Janeiro is a competitive affair, so make sure you invest the time upfront.

There's a difference between the document known as a CV in Europe, and that known as a curriculum vitae or CV in America. The CV you'll need for a job in Rio de Janeiro should be no more than two to three pages and provide a concise summary of your work, education and extracurricular activities, and how they relate to the job you’re applying for. This is much more like what's known as a resume in the United States.

It's normal to present your CV in both English and Portuguese. Because small spelling and grammar mistakes can really frustrate a recruiter, it's worth having a native speaker read over your resume before you submit it. Whichever language you prepare your documents in, make sure you record clearly the languages you speak, and the level to which you can comfortably use them.

When you mention education and qualifications, if you're talking about professional development courses, or qualifications in language, for example, it's a good idea to specify the course duration in hours. This gives a sense of scope for the reader.

In many countries it's normal to state ‘references on request’ rather than giving the details of your referees upfront. For your Rio CV, it’s normal to give the specifics of your referees on the initial document. Personal relations are taken very seriously, so the recommendation of someone well respected will be worth something to the recruiter. References are likely to be followed up, so make sure anyone you include on your CV is aware that you've done so, as they’ll likely get a call from your interviewers.

7. Get prepared for your job interview

For most of us, job interviews can be pretty stressful - not least when your prospective employer might be the other side of the globe. When recruiting long distance, it’s not uncommon for first interviews to be held over the phone or on a video call. This approach presents many different challenges to a face-to-face meeting, so it’s worth planning in advance and thinking about how to build rapport with your interviewer while you’re not even in the same room. Asking relevant questions, using humour, and even smiling while you speak, can make for a friendly conversation which can help you get through to the next round.

If you’re called in for an interview, it pays to be well prepared. Make sure you have plenty of time, as it's possible you'll be asked to stay to complete testing, or meet other managers after your main meeting. Depending on the level of role and type of company, you might need to complete numerical and verbal reasoning, or psychometric testing.

Dress in Rio tends to be more formal, so make sure you’re well presented for your interview. It’s possible that your interviewer will arrive late, but don’t be put off. You’re likely to start the meeting with some small talk to build rapport, so expect to talk a little about yourself, your journey, or the weather - and avoid anything controversial!

After the meeting, it's worth following up with a thank you email or phonecall. This shows you're serious and is taken as a good sign by the employer.

8. Get ready to move

If you've got your job offer agreed, you're ready to start thinking in more detail about the move to Rio. The website of the Presidency of Brazil is a good place to look for information about settling in Brazil, and questions about legal or process matters.

Once you arrive in Brazil you should apply for a Foreigner’s Identity Card, known as a CIE. Your new boss might help you, but if you're on your own, don't panic, you must simply complete the application form, and make a payment at any bank or post office.

Another priority will be getting some cash to get you started in Brazil - so you may be wondering how to go about converting your money to the local currency. If you plan to open a bank account in Brazil, or know someone with an account there, consider using TransferWise to send your money to and from Rio de Janeiro.

There’s a small transparent fee, and the real exchange rate is applied to convert from one currency to another - the same one you can find on Google. In addition to that, TransferWise receives and sends money via local bank transfers instead of internationally, which saves you even more money by eliminating international transfer fees.

Once your visas and currency exchange are in order, you’re ready to move to Rio de Janeiro!

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