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Job Market in France

So, you’re making the big move over to la belle France, and now it’s time to start the job search. Before you can land the job of your dreams, there are going to be a few obstacles along the way. But with this overview to the French Job Market, and our job seeker top tips, you should hold yourself in good stead to secure yourself a job in France.

Job Market Overview

Just under half of employees in France are in the private tertiary sector, with just under a third (32.2%) of jobs in the public tertiary sector. 13.5% of jobs in France are in industry and agriculture, the majority of which are based in Northern and Eastern France.

The best chances of finding a job for expats is in Paris and the nearby suburbs, with 1 in 4 jobs based in the Ile-de-France region. Most jobs requiring bilingual or native English speakers are in Paris, but there is an increasing demand for language skills elsewhere in France.

Despite industry representing a small proportion of jobs in France, France is one of the biggest industrial countries in the world. The industry sector’s activity has slowed, due to the economic crisis, but it remains a prominent player in industries such as the aeronautical, automobile, pharmaceutical, nuclear energy, and cosmetic sectors. Corporate giants such as L’Oréal, Sanofi and PSA Peugeot Citroën are testament to this industrial prowess.

Given France is the most visited country in the world by foreign tourists, the tourism industry creates a significant amount of jobs in France, employing just over 1 million workers. The three main regions for the tourism industry are Ile-de-France, Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côtes-d’Azur.

Unemployment has been gradually on the rise since the global recession, averaging 10.4% at the end of 2014. According to Insee (the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies), economic activity is slowly on the up in the Eurozone. This should hopefully help the job market to open up again in France.

Visa Requirements

Before you can even contemplate working in France, you need to know about France’s work visa requirements.

If you’re an EU/EEA citizen or from Switzerland, you can work freely without needing a work permit. Croatian citizens are the one exception to the rule. Croatians will have to obtain a work permit before working, unless they have a qualification equivalent to a Master’s.

Outside of the EU/EEA, you will need a work permit (carte de séjour). In order to be eligible for the work permit, you need a job offer with your future employer willing to sponsor you and you will need to earn at least 2186.27€ gross per month. Depending on the length of your contract, your work permit will be valid for 1-3 years. Once in France, the work permit is renewable, provided you are still in employment and satisfy the work visa requirements at the time of renewal.

Additionally, freelance and independent workers can apply for a work visa. To satisfy the independent contractor visa requirements, the original visa application has to be done in your country of residence and you must earn at least 1,457.52€ gross monthly. Freelance employee visas are valid for a year and are renewable once living in France.

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The Job Search

Now, it’s time to start the job search.

APEC is the most comprehensive job website, offering one of the best selection of jobs on the French job market. Additionally, Monster and Indeed are two of the most popular job search sites, advertising vacancies throughout France. Expat forums and magazines such as FUSAC or the American University of Paris are good sources to begin the job search too.

For jobs which are ideally suited to expats, using a bilingual recruitment agency such as Michael Page, Team RH or TMI Paris could better your chances of finding a job. Most jobs requiring native English speakers will be based in Paris but there are limited vacancies elsewhere in France.

If you’re looking to au pair or teach English in France, recent graduates can take part in the language assistant programme such as the British Council Language Assistant Scheme for British graduates. Au pairing jobs and English tutor jobs can be found at BabyLangues or AuPairWorld amongst many other sites.

Whilst a lot of social media networking is done via the traditional channels, France’s go-to professional networking site is in fact Viadeo instead of LinkedIn. Of course, most international corporations based in France have a presence on LinkedIn, but boost your job search prospects by having an active account on both.

Networking in France, on the whole, still takes a traditional approach with the majority of networking being done face-to-face. Find networking events on MeetUp or via expat forums, print off lots of business cards and put your best professional self forward. Making contacts will aid your job search efforts greatly in France.

The French CV

To heighten your chances of securing an interview, you’ll need to modify your CV. Whilst many employers recruiting native English speakers will accept Anglophone CVs, it’s best to have a French CV too. French CVs tend to be more concise and briefer than Anglophone CVs. Even those with vast professional experience should keep it to a two page maximum.

It’s common practise to put a photo on the CV, although it’s not obligatory. If you decide to attach a photo, ensure it presents you in a positive, professional manner. This will be the recruiter’s first impression of you – make it count.

It’s also customary, after giving your personal information, to have a projet professionnel. This is your opportunity to summarise the role you’re looking for and your main strengths and skills. A projet professionnel is similar to a professional mission statement.

Job experience is formatted in a reverse-chronological order with the most recent job at the top of the list. You should try as much as possible to find a French equivalent for your job title. The job description and the responsibilities should be kept to three bullet points maximum. Unlike Anglophone CVs, French CVs describe responsibilities using nouns instead of verbs ie. “encadrement d'une équipe de cinq personnes” would be the translation for “led a team of 5 people”.

Education is taken seriously on French CVs. In this section, recruiters are interested in seeing your area of study and grades, which once again you’ll need to find a French equivalent. For example, the equivalent of a 2:1 grade for a British Bachelor’s degree would be a mention bien.

Interests and hobbies are included on French CVs, but keep it brief. Mention your main hobbies in one or two lines, so that recruiters have an insight into your life outside of work.

A French cover letter (lettre de motivation) follows similar principles to English cover letters – tailor it to the job description, give the recruiters clear examples of why you’re suitable for the job, and most of all, show your passion. This is the only insight recruiters will have to your professional persona, so show it off.

Before you send your CV and cover letter off to prospective employers, get a native speaker to look through them. If there’s any sure-fire way to ensure your application goes straight in the bin, it’s spelling and grammatical mistakes, which can be easily avoided.

Looking for a job in France is no easy feat. It requires a lot of research, networking and perseverance, and you may have to overcome the language barrier too. But if you put the time, effort and preparation in, it’ll only be a matter of time before you get that elusive job offer. Bon courage!