Ten tips for finding work in France

As part of the first installment of The Local's Job Talk series we have put together, with the help of some expert advice, ten tips to help people find work in France. We will be examining some of the points in more detail throughout the series.

Ten tips for finding work in France
An advert at a Pôle Emploi (job centre) in Paris. Photo: The Local

It might be to fulfil a lifelong dream or it might even be for love. It might be to fulfil a longstanding desire to learn French or there may no real explanation at all. Whatever the motive is thousands of foreigners continue to come to France each year in the hope of starting a new life.

Unless you are retired or rich beyond belief then finding work will be top of the list when it comes to priorities when you first get here.

As part of its Job Talk series The Local has compiled a list of tips that hopefully can help you find that elusive job. It has been put together with the help of Megan Ascione, a Paris based senior consultant from recruitment agency Euro London Appointments.

This list is obviously not exhaustive so feel free to add your own tips in the comment section below.

1.       The language – learn it!

Sorry. It has to be number one in the list. Not speaking French might not stop you from working in a pub but it will close many other doors for you.

We get clients contacting us who don’t speak a word of French and it will be really hard for them to find work,” Ascione tells The Local. “Occasionally companies will request 'English mother tongue' employees, which means the level of French might not be that important. But I think last year I recruited for about two jobs out of 50 that did not require French.”

So get on it. There are plenty of language courses that can help you get a start, such as those on offer at the Académie Française. You can also find private language tutors on websites like Leboncoin or various expat websites. Arrange to meet French people socially, watch French TV, listen to French radio, lock yourself in a room with a French grammar book or do your best to meet a French lover, whatever it just do whatever it takes to learn the language. It will help.  

2.       Be flexible

If the language is an issue – and it almost always is – then you'll have to be prepared to be flexible in your approach to finding work. Don’t expect to walk into the same high-powered job you had back home. This is where working in a pub or teaching English gives you a great advantage. Both jobs will give you the chance to earn some money while improving your French, after which you might be able to get that career back on track. On the other hand, if you do have a set of impressive qualifications and an impressive career behind you then it’s probably not the best idea to deviate from that, as the French like consistency, i.e. they like your qualifications to match up with your work experience on your CV. Speaking of which…

3.       Do your CV the French way.

“CV’s in France tend to be a lot more concise. If you've had a senior position, then two pages, maximum. For junior roles, just the one page will be enough,”says Ascione.

There’s also the question of whether to put a photo on your CV, as a lot of French companies still expect applicants to do this.

“If you are going to put a photo on then make sure it's a normal one. We've seen pictures of people doing cheesy business-like handshakes or even ones of them holding a drink in one hand. Brush your hair and don’t go over the top with the make-up. No bright orange lipstick!”says Ascione.

4.       Know where to look for openings

The American University of Paris has been a good place for people to find jobs, Ascione says. There is also FUSAC magazine, which features plenty of job adverts. Obviously, all the recruitment agencies – many of which can be found with the help of a quick Google search – are worth checking out, depending on what type of work you are looking for. “In terms of websites, Monster is the one that most companies will use. LinkedIn and Facebook are also good ways of getting in contact with people and companies,” says Ascione.

Here are a few of the main ones to get you going:,,,

And there is of course The Local's own jam-packed job section, which you can visit by clicking here.

 5.       Vous not Tu!

When meeting potential employers, whether it’s in an interview or simply for a coffee, be careful not to get too ‘matey’ with them. French bosses like to be shown respect, especially if they're older than you. It’s probably not a good idea to dive in and try to kiss them on the cheek on the first meeting. A firm handshake will suffice. Interviews will be a bit more formal here so don’t expect to be put at ease by a calming joke or two at the beginning. And remember your French grammar: “Always use the 'vous' form of the verb. If you use 'tu' you will come across as rude,” says Ascione.

6.       Do your homework

The French employment and tax system can be fairly complicated, so it's a decent idea to try and do some homework, particularly on the difference between CDIs (permanent contracts) and CDDs (temporary contracts), and cadres (management) and non-cadres (non-management) positions.

7.       Make contacts

Signing on at agencies and sending off as many CVs as you can is all well and good, but don’t forget to do the basics. Go out and meet people. Many jobs for foreigners in France will be handed out by foreigners themselves, and often not after an interview, but over a pint in a pub. Make a list of all ex-pat pubs and organise your own pub crawl. Keep an eye out for any ex-pat events too, whether a pub quiz to an organised meet-up. These are an easy way in to get to know people.

“Making contacts is all part of it, so join social networks and go for a drink in places where ex-pats hang out,”says Ascione.

8.       Check out your rivals

If you are following a partner to France or have designs on coming here and cannot get a transfer from your current employers to a French branch then look to your rivals, says Euro London’s Ascione. “There will be people who have a skill set relevant for that sector so those people should contact direct competitors,” she said.

9.       Get your paperwork in order

It might not sound like the most important thing in a job hunt, but in France, where red tape can be thicker than anywhere else on earth, getting your paperwork in order early will help reduce stress levels when searching for jobs. Make sure you carry around a file containing photocopies of passports, old payslips, your carte vitale (health card), working papers, visas, household bills – in fact, any piece of paper you can think of including, of course, your CV. 

10.   Be patient

Finding a job in France, like in any foreign country, is not particularly easy. Thankfully, though, it's not impossible, despite what some would have you believe. Patience may just be the key to landing that dream job.

FIND A JOB: Browse thousands of English-language vacancies in France 

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How to get a summer job in France

As the summer holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers - so if you're looking for a summer job, here's how to go about it.

How to get a summer job in France

There are thousands of employment offers in France – a simple internet search for jobs d’été came up with numerous jobs boards offering work in France, while the government-backed Centre d’Information et de Documentation pour la Jeunesse (CIDJ) offers advice and information on all aspects of life for young people in France, including finding seasonal work and summer placements.

Sectors including agriculture, hospitality and tourism are always recruiting in the summer, seeking fruit-pickers, holiday camp workers and serving/hotel staff.

But what are the rules for people seeking summer jobs?

READ ALSO Vendange: What you really sign up for when you agree to help with the French wine harvest


Children from the age of 16 (under certain circumstances, the age limit drops to 14) who are legally resident in France can work as long as they have written authorisation from their parents or legal guardians. A model authorisation letter is available here

Those under the age of 18 cannot undertake certain jobs for health and safety reasons.

In the following circumstances, children as young as 14 or 15 can work during school holidays.

  • The holidays must last at least 14 days;
  • The child must work no more than half the days of the holiday – so, if a vacation period is two weeks, they can work for no more than one of those weeks;
  • The child is given ‘light duties’ that offer no risk to their safety, health, or development;
  • From the age of 15 and if the child has completed their troisieme education, a minor can register for an apprenticeship. 


Salary is usually paid monthly and will have a payslip. For those aged 18 and over, pay will be at least equal to the minimum wage.

 For those aged 14 to 17, who have less than six months’ professional experience, the minimum allowed rate is 80 percent of the minimum wage. For those aged 17 to 18, the rate rises to a minimum of 90 percent of France’s minimum wage.

  • The minimum wage in France is currently €10.85 gross per hour (€1,645.58 gross per month based on a 35-hour week);
  • the employment contract is fixed-term and can take different forms (fixed-term contract, seasonal employment contract, temporary employment contract, etc);
  • Seasonal employees are subject to the same obligations as the other employees of the company and have access to the same benefits (canteens, breaks, etc.).

Under 18s have certain additional protections:

  • between the ages of 14 and 16, during school holidays, employees on any contract cannot work more than 35 hours per week nor more than 7 hours per day;
  • They cannot work at night;
  • Those aged 14 to under 16 working during their school holidays can only be assigned to work which is not likely to harm their safety, their health or development.

Right to work in France

If you’re a French citizen or hold permanent residency in France then you have the right to work, but for foreigners there are extra restrictions.

Anyone who holds the passport of a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, is free to work in France or to travel to France seeking work without needing a visa or work permit.

Most other people will need permission to work in France – even if it’s only for a short period or for casual work such as grape-picking. Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa – everything you need to know about that is here.

In addition to the visa, you may also need a work permit, which is the responsibility of the employer.  To employ anyone in France for less than 90 days, an employer must get a temporary work permit – before the prospective employee applies for a short stay visa. This permit is then sent to the embassy at which the employee is applying for a visa.

If you come from countries including the UK, USA and Canada you can spend up to 90 days in France without a visa – but you may still need a work (convention d’accueil) if you want to work while you are here.

READ ALSO Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Certain countries have specific ‘seasonal worker’ visas on offer, for certain sectors which allows – for example – Canadians to come to France and work the ski season. 

Cash-in-hand jobs

Certain sectors which have a lot of casual workers – for example seasonal fruit-picking – do have cash-in-hand jobs, known in France as marché noir (black market) or simply travail au black (working on the black, or working illegally). 

This is of course illegal and working this way carries risks – as well as the possibility of losing your job if labour inspectors turn up you are also in a vulnerable position. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, or make unexpected deductions from your wages, there is very little you can do about it since you won’t have any kind of work contract.