Topic 3 How to write CV and cover letters, tips on job applications, validation process of previous degrees

While some multinational businesses and companies based in Portugal use English as a working language and accept CV’s in foreign languages, this is not always the norm. In order to get the best results, you should be prepared to create a version of your document in the Portuguese language itself.

This will be non be a big problem if you already possess a high level in the language. However, if your level of spoken and written Portuguese is more basic this may take a different approach.

Avoid the temptation of using Google translate or other related tools to get the job done. If you’re really serious about your job search in a foreign country it’s best to use a slightly more thorough method to write your Portuguese curriculum. One approach is to hire a professional translator to do the job for you, although this can be quite expensive. Another is to use a resume generator with a professional Portuguese resume template. This will help you lay out the sections in the language perfectly and also give you examples of the information and format to use for the main sections.

Start the resume with your name as the title header. Don’t simply title it with Curriculum Vitae

Creative resumes and specially designed resumes may look amazing, however, most hiring managers in Portugal or Brazil prefer a standard chronological resume.

Do your research before you apply for a job. Get a good idea of what the culture, values and working. practices of the organization are before you start. This can offer clues for how to structure your resume and what information you should include.

Keep your resume to the point. Cut out any extraneous information that doesn’t apply to the role you’re targetting.

Avoid spelling and grammar errors at all costs.

Do not lie on your CV.

Unlike the US where a single page is the recommended length for your profile, a Portuguese resume can extend to more pages. For example, a document of 2-3 letter pages is not unusual. When you start creating your curriculum it’s best to start out with a strong introduction in the form of a resume objective. This will allow you to quickly catch the eye of a recruiter with a few key details about yourself and your most employable features.

When it comes to designing and formatting your document be sure to keep the text easily readable and the design organized. Where possible try to be concise, however, don’t be afraid to add a little more detail than you might when applying for a job in the US.

The length of the CV should be no more than 3 letter pages (8.5” x 11”)

Keep the text at a consistent size throughout the document

Mark each section clearly out with larger size headers and subheaders

Create your document as a PDF so it’s easier to submit online

In the case of a resume optimized for the Portuguese speaking job market, your contact information section will be known as your informação pessoal (personal information). The personal information you include on a Portuguese resume is quite different to what you would normally include on a resume for a job in America.

Unlike examples in the US, it is quite common in countries like Brazil to include personal information such as your date of birth (data de nascimento), marital status (estado civil), and your religion. Some of these elements are becoming more optional, and at the very least only a date of birth is an expected requirement. However, adding this more personal information is generally still the norm for most people in Portugal.

Most American candidates don’t add photos to their resumes as 88% of recruiters will reject your document. However, in Portuguese speaking countries profile photos are normally expected by employers. Now, this is changing in recent times and the inclusion of a photo is becoming less and less important. Yet it is still normal practice for people applying for jobs in these countries.

If you decide to add a profile picture, choose a professional picture showing your head and shoulders. Your face and features should clearly decipherable and where possible aim to have a neutral background. The size of the photo you affix should be passport-sized (2” x 2”) and placed in the top right corner of the page.

In your experiência profissional (the Portuguese name for the work experience section) you will need to give a good and scannable impression of your work history so far. This should be tailored to the position you’re aiming for and presented in reverse chronological order so that your most recent experience shows up first. When you present your previous positions on the page set out each entry in the following format:

  • The name of the company and the dates of employment
  • Your job title in the organization
  • The key duties that you undertook in your role at the company

Your skills section (or competências in Portuguese) is a great opportunity to give the recruiter a broad overview of your abilities. This should be presented as a bullet point list and should include both your hard skills and soft skills. However, whilst your skills will help you sell yourself for the job in question, make sure these abilities are backed up well with examples of how you used them in the work experience section.

The education section or your “educação” section may appear a little different depending on which country you’re applying for jobs in. This is because both countries have their own separate education systems with different names for the key qualifications. This can be seen in the table below.

When detailing information about degrees that you’ve earned, always include the subject you majored in. Additionally, take advantage of this section to detail any further studies you’ve done in professional subjects and any additional certifications.

The language (Idiomas) section of your Portuguese language resume is an essential feature if you’re a native speaker in another language. You will at the very least have to indicate your fluency in the Portuguese language itself. As a foreign language speaker, you should also indicate your level of ability in the other languages you speak as well. This can be done using the following adjectives:


This will be necessary whether you are joining a company where the majority language is Portuguese or a company where the main spoken language is English. This, of course, is especially crucial if you’re targetting a position where you will need to communicate with other speakers of these languages.

Writing a cover letter

When it comes to writing a cover letter or an email for a vaga de emprego (job opening), it is essential that you know how and what to write. So here are a few ideas, tips and vocabulary that will help you write your formal email for a job:

Make sure you are clear and direct

Ex. Candidato à vaga de secretário (candidate for the position of secretary), CV para a vaga de TI (résumé for the IT position)

When you know the name of the person you are sending the email to – Ex. Sr. João Silva (Mr. João Silva)

When you know they are either a doctor, a lawyer or if they have a PhD – Ex. Dr. João Silva (male), Dra. Susana Matos (female)

When you know whether it is man or a woman but you do not know the name – Prezado Senhor (Dear Sir)/ Prezada Senhora (Dear Madam)

When you do not know if you a dealing with a male or female – Prezados Senhores (Dear Sirs)

Always begin telling them why you are writing the email:

I am writing to apply for the position of Secretary offered by [name of the company)

Talk about yourself and your qualifications, be concise and direct. Long texts are usually not read fully, so stick to the main points. Some useful sentences to use:

  • Penso que eu seria a escolha certa para fazer parte do time da/do [nome da empresa] pois… (I believe I would be the right choice to become part of the [name of the company] team) because..
  • Tenho x anos de experiência nesta área (I have x years experience working in this área).
  • tive a oportunidade de trabalhar com/como(I have had to opportunity working with/as)
  • Tenho verdadeira paixão por… (I am truly passionate about…)
  • Acredito que trabalhar em equipe me faz crescer e prosperar (I believe working as a team makes me grow and prosper)
  • Segue em anexo o meu currículo (find my résumé attached)
  • Agradeço desde já pela oportunidade (I thank you in advance for the opportunity)
  •  Atenciosamente (Sincerely)
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Recognition of Foreign Qualifications

The academic recognition is the process by which a foreign academic qualification is compared to a Portuguese qualification concerning the level, duration and program content. The professional recognition is the authorization by a competent authority (Ministry, Association, etc) to practice a certain profession or regulated professional activity.

The equivalence is regulated under the Decree-Law Nr. 283/84, dated 21st.June, and is the procedure by which a foreign academic qualification is compared to a Portuguese qualification, concerning the level, duration and program content, being also fixed the scientific area of the granted equivalence.

The recognition is the procedure by which a foreign academic qualification is compared to a Portuguese qualification merely on level and is ruled by the Decree-Law Nr. 283/83, dated 21st. June.

The registration is a new recognition regime of foreign academic level degrees, with objectives and nature identical to the university graduate, master and doctor, awarded Portuguese Higher Education Institutions, conferring to their owners all the rights inherent to these academic degrees. This new recognition regime is ruled under the Decree-Law Nr. 341/2007, dated 12.October.

This system is solely applied if the academic degree in question is included in the list of degrees fixed in the general deliberations issued by the Commission for the Recognition of Foreign Degrees and duly published on the 2nd Serie of Diário da República, available for consultation at

If you are the owner of a foreign higher degree and wish to request the equivalence/recognition, you must go to a Portuguese Higher Education Institution that offers courses in the same area or suchlike, where a scientific evaluation of the presented formation will be made.

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