While the French job market is a little different to the British one, and might seem a little hard to navigate successfully, with a little preparation and cultural awareness there’s no reason you can’t overcome any of the obstacles in your way. With that in mind, here are five of our top tips for how to secure yourself a job in France.
Talk the talk
Although there are jobs in France that do not require you to have total French fluency these are unlikely to be the higher-skilled positions that you might want to aim for. As a result, it’s highly advised to make sure you have at least some grasp of the French language, not least because this will also benefit you in your life outside of work.
Being able to speak French demonstrates a greater commitment to both the country and the job you’re applying for; something which a prospective employer is likely to view quite favourably. These days it is easier than ever to get started on learning a language so there is really little excuse not to.
Translate your CV
Ensuring that your CV makes the cut is naturally a big part of easing your path into the job, either in France or anywhere else in the world. A particular feature of the French CV, however, is its relative brevity. Applications for senior positions are only seen to merit two, or possibly three, pages, and junior roles just one. Due to this you have to make sure that your CV is as focused as possible, cutting out anything that isn’t vital to the role.
Depending on the language of the advert you are responding to you may well find yourself having to submit a CV in French rather than English. This creates a much greater potential for the sort of typos or mistakes that could see your CV dismissed out of hand, so be sure to run it past a native French speaker before you send it off.
Focus your experience
Although employers in the UK can look favourably on a candidate with experience across a variety of fields the same is not usually true in France. Companies tend to view a more eclectic CV as evidence of potential unreliability in a candidate, putting you at a disadvantage before you even reach the interview stage.
With that in mind, try to focus primarily on your most relevant and important experience while keeping reference to less significant roles to a minimum.
Mind your manners
Prospective bosses in France will want to be shown a high degree of respect, particularly if they are your senior. As a result you should be sure to never address an interviewer by ‘tu’, the more informal and familiar form of ‘you’, and instead stick exclusively to the more respectful ‘vous’.
Similarly, do not expect to greet a potential employer with a kiss on the cheek – a good handshake will do more than well enough at this stage. With the French interview system taking a more formal approach than that of the UK you also aren’t likely to encounter much in the way of small talk.
Be prepared for compromise
Unless you have a strong grasp of French the chances of walking straight into a job of the same calibre as your current role may not be entirely realistic. Thus, it’s important to be a little bit flexible and keep your mind open in order to make sure you can get your foot in the door. Patience is a virtue and, if you’re willing to put in the extra effort, then you are sure to find your perfect job in the end.
Much like any other job market in the world, with a little preparation and knowhow you can easily improve your chances of landing a job in France. So long as you keep in mind the different expectations of potential French employers and do your best to mitigate these, it may not be so very long before you find yourself starting in a fresh foreign workplace.