The process of getting hired in France has its own etiquette, subtle signs and requirements that are unique to this side of the Atlantic or the English Channel.
However the good news is that with a little cultural awareness these barriers can be overcome.
The Local talked to recruiting agency GR International Profiles to find six crucial dos and don'ts for landing a job in France.
Clothes make the (wo)man
How you look when you show up to a job interview is important anywhere, but especially so in France where recruiters really focus on the details. Also, French bosses tend to think your personal clothing style reflects how you’ll act in the company. Thus formal yet not flashy clothes are the best. French bosses tend to prefer a corporate look. Of course, it depends on the firm, so if you want a job in design, dressing a bit more originally would be a plus.
Diploma, diploma, diploma
The main cultural difference between the Anglophone and French job market is the emphasis placed on applicants’ diplomas and credentials. It makes the market more rigid and can prove a barrier for expats who got their training outside France. However, it can also be a strength in positions where the employer is looking for someone with ties to the Anglo world.
Paint a clear picture
Firms in the Anglo world are more open to applicants who have a variety of experiences because they are seen as curious, independent and open-minded. However, in France it comes off as the mark of a person who may not very stable or reliable. Thus your French resumé must emphasize the experiences that are really important and relevant to the job you are applying for. Take out experiences that aren’t germane.
Clean up your CV
French resumés are short and concise, no more than two pages, with perfect spelling and ID photos. Your work experience section should be first and most prominent. And when translating your CV into French don’t rely on an automatic translator like Google. It’s better to have a French speaker help you translate and proofread it. Finally, don’t forget some of the most common spelling mistakes for English speakers are the genders of French nouns (la table, le verre), so take extra care with those.
Brush up on your French
Yes, you might be able to teach English or work in a bar without decent French , your ability to speak the language of Moliere will be a major factor in getting hired in France for most jobs. Even if you are applying for a position at an Anglo company, you should have a minimum fluency in writing and speaking, because every job will require contact with the general public or other companies. So get your head in the books or sign up for a course. There's no point putting it off.
A good way to break into the French market is through temporary employment agencies. A short assignment can help you get acquainted French business culture, provide practice for your language skills and give a chance to begin networking. No to mention, it’s a valuable experience to add on to your resumé for finding a longer term job.
Take the first step in your job hunt by jumping into The Local's own English-language job section here. Bonne chance.
By Léa Surugue