By Stephen Thompson
If you are one of the increasing number of English-speaking people with a Brazilian partner who is thinking of coming to Brazil to look for work, read this carefully.
Getting well-paid, secure employment in Brazil is hard.
There are a number of points you need to be aware of:
1. The best paid jobs in Brazil are in the public sector, and only Brazilian passport holders are allowed to apply for these and sit the exams called "concourso publico". A foreigners RNE is not enough.
2. Dont assume that that because wages are low, the cost of living will also be low as well. Unfortunately it doesnt work like that. Although accommodation, food and alcohol are relatively cheap, a lot of things are actually more expensive, in particular cars, telephones/cellphones and electronic goods. And you need a car in Brazil, because public transport is poor. Ditto public health care. Assume that you will get nothing for free, and that you will have to pay a lot of services and charges. There are also lots of other "hidden costs" and taxes.
3. Make sure you have good contacts. Most work in Brazil is arranged through the grapevine, rather than official sources. If you dont have good contacts, you going to have to do a lot of networking.
4. Evaluate your skills. Unless you are a telecoms engineer or international banker, your most valuable skill in the Brazilian job market is probably your English fluency, and your knowledge of English speaking culture. But be aware that it is a premium service you are offering - dont compete with Brazilian English teachers. Target the top end of the English teaching/translation market. Try contacting the universities and large companies and avoid most English schools as the pay is too low; as low as R$8/hour. Look for business English teaching and focus on the best schools such Alumni. Remember for Brazilian schools the year starts in February, which is the best time to look for private students, but schools will be contracting earlier.
5. Dont assume that you can teach English better than Brazilians just because youre a native speaker. You need to know a lot of grammar as well, and Brazilian teachers have an advantage in that theyve learnt English the hard way.
6. Be aware that private students will cancel their classes in December and return only after Carnival. Ask for one months payment in advance, and try to get them to sign a contract. Explain to them that is not acceptable to cancel classes at the last minute, or they will do this and assume they do not have to pay. Dont expect your students to be punctual for a class. Explain that its important they turn up on time, as you have other commitments and work.
7. Be aware that it takes longer to get things done in Brazil. And dont expect much to happen in January or July or during Carnaval.
8. The Brazilian business day runs from nine to five, with a two-hour lunch break between midday and 2:30 p.m. Dont bother calling outside these times. Be patient and persistent.
9. Be aware of bank holidays, and expect people to take the whole week off.
10. Dont expect Brazilians to answer their cell phones, especially in the evening or at the weekend.
11. Dont expect to find work on the Internet. If the person youre e-mailing doesnt reply, visit them in person. Ditto phone calls.
12. If youre working freelance, get registered as an "autonomo" (self-employed) at your local Prefeitura. Otherwise, you will have difficulty getting paid. Brazilian companies require a "nota fiscal" from a registered company before they can pay you.
13. It takes several months to open a company in Brazil (and several years to close one).
14. Dont expect to receive all the benefits you are entitled to by law. It is usual, especially in smaller companies, to record a worker on a small salary in order to reduce employers social security, holiday and other obligations. The rest of your money will be paid in cash under the table ("caixa dois" in Portuguese).
15. Dont imagine because you have work you can get credit. And if you are offered credit, refuse it. Brazilian interest rates are absurdly high.
16. If you are living in Brazil and married to a Brazilian, but dont have a work permit, dont assume that its illegal to work. The Brazilian law is contradictory. You have a legal requirement to support your spouse.
17. Dont always take Brazilian job offers seriously. Sometimes Brazilians say things without meaning them.
18. Dont be surprised if your Brazilian job gets cancelled at the last minute.
19. Dont assume that things are going to get better, on the contrary, prepare for the worst-currency devaluation, an energy crisis, and government confiscation of your bank account - these have all happened in recent years! The Brazilian economy is not going anywhere, and Brazil has 3 or 4 million more hungry mouths to feed every year.
20. Finally, relax and enjoy it! No matter how hard things are, there is always another public holiday around the corner when you can go to the beach with your partner, who hopefully is making more money then you are!
Stephen Thompson runs "O Gaucho", a snack bar serving breakfast, juices, smoothies, sandwiches. Galeria 2001, 2001 Avenida Paulista, São Paulo. For an English menu contact email@example.com
To read previous articles by Stephen click the links below:
Acquiring and Running a Small Business in Brazil
Brazil: To Free Or Not To Free
Brazil: Trail Biking in Chapada Diamantinha
Brazil: So Near, but So Far Apart
How to Get Into University in Brazil
The Pleasure of Driving a Car in Brazil
Brazil: The Bairro of Flamengo in Río de Janeiro
Brazil: The Information Technology Law
Managing a Brazilian bank account
Brazil's Middle Class Ruled By Political Apathy