Expats planning to work in São Paulo should prepare for tough competition in the workplace. Increasing numbers of young and highly educated professionals are looking to Brazil for promising new job opportunities. Established multinational businesses are also seeing investment opportunities in São Paulo, which is well placed when it comes to serving the South American markets. Expats looking for a job in the city will need to have sought-after skills and experience to make them stand out from other applicants.

Job market in São Paulo

The most important requirement for finding a job in São Paulo is having a working knowledge of Portuguese. Jobs that do not require some level of Portuguese knowledge are rare. So having a knowledge of the language will automatically improve an expat's chances of finding employment.

The majority of people working in São Paulo are employed in the service, finance and technology sectors. Multinational companies with branches or headquarters in São Paulo include Volkswagen, Carrefour, Nestlé and Google. Many expats working at these multinational companies are transferred to São Paulo from their home countries. 

Finding a job in São Paulo

Increasing numbers of expats are lured to São Paulo because of its diverse economy and exciting job opportunities. However, unless expats are highly skilled or are transferred to São Paulo from their company’s offices abroad, job opportunities for foreigners are not always easy to come by.

Expats with sought-after skills in fields such as engineering, IT and finance are the most likely to be successful in finding a job in São Paulo. A working knowledge of the local language will certainly improve an expat's chances of being hired. As such, learning Portuguese should be a priority for any expat moving to São Paulo for work.

Large numbers of expats who struggle to find work in their original field opt for teaching English as a way of earning money. As salaries for English teachers in São Paulo are low, these types of jobs are best suited for younger expats who are travelling through South America or spending their gap year in Brazil, rather than those looking to establish a career or settle down in the long term.

Work culture in São Paulo

The business culture in São Paulo is considerably more formal than in many other Brazilian cities. Locals will expect expats to present themselves well and dress in appropriate business attire. 

Despite the formality of the city’s business culture, São Paulo locals tend to be relationship-focused. Expats should focus on networking and building relationships with their colleagues if they hope to have a positive experience of working in Brazil. Making an effort to learn the local language will also go a long way with Brazilian colleagues.