Job Hunting in France
For most jobs in France you will need an excellent level of spoken and written French. France has a good minimum wage level of 9.76 EURO and you will find many unionised industries where workers are supported, and protected, through their union membership. The French are firm believers in worker’s rights.
Under the new President Emmanuel Macron and with a growing economy, unemployment in France is at its lowest for a decade. French firms are hiring fast, especially in services and manufacturing.
Getting a work visa
Under EU rules, and the free movement of people, EU citizens can live and work freely in France. If you are from outside of the EU, the rules are different. For US citizens to work in France you must first have a job, so job hunting prior to your move to France is a must!
To obtain a work visa you need to have a job in France first. Your new employer will then draw up a work contract and will file an application to their local Labour Office. If it’s approved, it will be sent to the French Office of Immigration (OFII) to obtain your work permit. Once your permit is endorsed by OFII it will be sent directly to your applicable (nearest) French Consulate who will be responsible for issuing your visa.
You will need to consult the website of your nearest French Consulate in the USA for full details on the process, eligibility criteria and documents required.
As with many European countries, most of the French workforce is employed in the services sector, followed by industry and agriculture. France has some thriving technology and manufacturing centres, such as Toulouse, home to Airbus. Major industries include the aerospace and automotive industries, electronics, and industrial machinery. In the services sector, tourism is thriving.
There are job shortages in management, marketing, construction, science and engineering, agriculture, health and social work, banking, insurance and IT. There are also opportunities in healthcare, tourism and the teaching of English.
Best cities for finding work
Toulouse is a technological hub for France and is voted the second-best place in the country to work. It’s the centre of the European aerospace industry and home to the largest space centre in Europe. The Eurocentre in the North of Toulouse is a major economic hub.
Also with Airbus facilities, and benefitting from the presence of other engineering and aerospace companies who supply and support Airbus, Nantes is a thriving cultural centre. Between 6,000 and 9,000 people move to Nantes each year.
France’s third largest city and famous for its food. Lyon has 2,000 restaurants. It’s also popular for expats setting up businesses in France, and is an excellent location from which to begin exploring Europe.
The wine capital of France and within 2 hours of Paris, tourism is booming in Bordeaux and it’s set to receive a high-speed rail link in July 2017 to Paris.
The second largest city in France, Marseille is diverse and has seen many young ex-pats moving to the area who take advantage of its nightlife and social scene.
Limoges has a thriving economy but has lower than average housing and reasonable living costs, making it a popular destination for ex-pats from all over the world.
Tips for job hunting in France
Newspapers, online job boards and employment agencies are normal ways to find work in France. Without access to newspapers you need to focus on job listings on the internet and enquiring with employment agencies, particularly in the niche, or geographic area, in which you wish to work.
Presenting your CV/resume
In France it’s normal to either send a resume with a cover letter or, where possible, apply online. Cover letters (lettres de motivation) are important job hunting etiquette in France and should include why you are applying for a job and an outline of why you fit the position. The format of your resume should have your education first and be succinct at a page, or at most two if you have a lengthy career, or are applying for a more technical role.
To gain employment before you arrive in France, even if you visit for an interview, it’s likely you will need to have an online, or Skype, interview first. You should treat this like any normal interview, dress well, prepare well, and present yourself as you would in person.
As with any interview (entretien) good research on the company and the role will set you off on the right footing.
French employers tend to expect some formality, so don’t be over familiar. Even business meetings in France can see attendees seated by position.
Useful websites and job portals
Pôle Emploi – The national agency for employment
APEC – The French national agency for employment of professionals and executives (Agence pour l’Emploi de Cadres).
And a few more: