A large number of foreigners move to France for work. Some may relocate on a job transfer, while others may relocate after securing employment. There are also those who hope to find a suitable job once they arrive in the country. If you’re among the latter, here are some job-hunting tips that may come in handy.
Learn the language
Learning French can open many doors for job seekers. Although there are some companies who hire employees regardless of their knowledge of French, others may insist on fluency.Learning a new language is not as hard as it seems. There are language courses available at several different schools and academies in France. You can even find a private language tutor on some websites or expat forums. Another great way to learn French is to tune into some French television programs or movies. Whichever method you choose; be patient and stick to the process because it will benefit you, especially if you plan on staying in the country for a longer period.
Have realistic expectations
Many expats who come to France have no knowledge of French at all. This is not a problem in itself, as there are plenty of ways to learn the language. But it means that you may not find a job of your choice at once. It is common for foreigners to take up English teaching jobs in the meantime.
Brush up your CV
French employers prefer CVSs that are more concise – perhaps just a page for junior positions and a couple of pages for senior ones. Many companies also expect CVs to have a photograph of the applicant.
Other important documents
Red tape is almost a way of life in France and therefore it’s highly important to start getting your paperwork in order well in advance. With this out of the way, you can then focus on the actual job search. Keep all your important documents in a file with you. Apart from the CV, other essential documents include photocopies of your passport, visas, work permit, health insurance card (Carte Vitale) and previous pay slips.
Look in the right places
Job websites are one of the best places to look for jobs that match your qualifications, skills and requirements. People from the EU can check the job mobility portal called EURES, which is run by the European Commission. Apart from job listings, it also enables you to upload your CV and provides information on the legal and administrative aspects of working in France. Pôle Emploi is the French national employment agency, which has listings for various types of jobs across France. You can even sign on with recruitment agencies, whose details are available in the Yellow Pages (Pages Jaunes).
Job interviews in France tend to be a lot more formal and therefore it’s advisable not to get too friendly. Older individuals especially expect to be shown respect. Also remember to say ‘vous’ and not ‘tu’ when required, as the latter may seem slightly rude. Dress appropriately and be prepared to answer questions confidently, even if they are about your age or marital status. Avoid sending thank you notes or emails after the interview, as this is not a common practice in France.
Do your research
It’s a good idea to do some research on the different types of employment contracts in France. There are specific contracts depending on whether the job position is a part-time or full-time one. Contracts for management and non-management positions are also different. It’s also important to learn about the French taxation system since those who intend to stay in the country permanently are required to pay taxes as soon as they arrive in France.
Networking is an excellent way to get the word out that you’re looking for a job, and expat forums are great places to do this. Also visit expat haunts and events in your area. Joining an expat club or association is also a good way to network with other expats in France. Many employers in France are foreigners themselves and frequenting such places may help you meet the right people and you may be the first person they contact when they hear of a suitable opening.