Start with startups: How to find a graduate job in France

Paris-based graduate and job hunter Ellie O'Driscoll offers some sound advice on how to land employment in France after finishing university. You can start with start-ups, she says.

Start with startups: How to find a graduate job in France
Paris is home to plenty of job fairs, all worth checking out if you're a graduate. Photo: AFP

Everyone knows the graduate careers market is already saturated, but what happens when you’re a graduate with French language skills who is looking to enter the French job market?

As someone in exactly that position, trying to see the wood through the (French) trees, here are some top tips on looking for graduate jobs in France as a jeune diplômé

Look to start-ups

Paris is becoming a major haven for start-up companies which can provide you with a whole new source of job opportunities. If it works out, you'll grow as the company grows too. 

Blablacar is the most notable recent French start-up success story, but there is a serious growth in this area and fresh ideas and language skills will always be attractive to such companies.

Thomas Thorburn, a graduate who studied literature at the University of Warwick, now works at ‘Weblib’ – a Paris-based start-up which provides tablets and Wi-Fi for shops and restaurants.

“The best thing about working for a start-up in Paris is that it seems there are hundreds of them, for pretty much every field imaginable,” Thorburn told The Local.

“I got my job through LinkedIn, which is good for sales and technology jobs. Start-ups all seem to want people with native English, and a bit of experience can go along way.”

Marie Cosnard from French start-up Happn, the dating app that is taking on Tinder, told The Local the industry is an opportunity for young foreign workers to find a job in Paris.

“Like other start-ups, something we really value is language, because we are looking to expand internationally and that’s the case with a lot of new companies,” she said.

“English is extremely important, but we hire many people from different countries, some of whom can barely speak French,” she added.

Although she warned potential recruits they would need plenty of drive and endurance to cope with ever-changing rhythms and long hours of working with a country trying to establish itself.

Check out the Paris Start-up Job Fair for a list of graduate-seeking start-ups.

Cast the net wide

Job portals such as and, (not to mention are also excellent tools to start your job search. is quite right to say one of your best bets of finding work is with multinational or major national employers so look for the French equivalent of a company you would like to work for in your home country.

For example, if you are looking to work in real estate, Leggett Immobilier is the largest estate agents for English clients in France, so seek them out.

Well-known multi-national companies such as the L’Oreal Group, Orange or Societé Général which have branches worldwide are always on the lookout for fresh graduate talent and often provide handsomely-paid graduate schemes where you could earn up to €2,000 a month.

BUT, be specific and thorough in your search

Track down the contact details of the person who is really in charge and contact them. It is common in France to actually pick up the phone to speak to someone in charge, or even show up in person, CV in hand, to talk to people directly and get a straight answer.

Do your homework about job terms in French too, for example get to grips with the rules around a CDD (temporary) contract and a CDI (permanent).

Don’t get disheartened by the red tape

Rules about stagiaires (interns) and the convention de stage, sometimes state that you must be enrolled at a university to get an internship at a company, which can be an impossible hurdle to overcome.

There are however ways to get around officialdom, and schemes such as Erasmus+ and AIESEC can help you get break in to many industries, so don’t be afraid to try different avenues.

SEE ALSO: The good and the bad of internships in France

Keep your eyes peeled

It is very important in France to always have your ear to the ground when out and about.

Not all information or jobs can be found on websites or on Facebook posts, as seems the case these days.

Some employers in France still prefer the more traditional shop window display or even just word of mouth.

There are often posters for jobs fairs and events plastered around the Metro, and the American University of Paris and British Council office have notice boards with plenty of job offers.

Use English language channels

There are two ways your native language skills can come in handy in your job search: by being an asset to most jobs you’ll apply for and by providing you with a ready-made network of expats through which you can find tip offs and make friends which may eventually lead to a job.

Also, look at British organisations in France (such as the British Council or the British Embassy), companies with an international presence (such as Airbnb or and of course there are certain industries where English will always be beneficial, for example tourism, fashion, estate agency, logistics and of course, teaching English as a foreign language. 

Remember to play up your language skills on your CV to show that it’s one of your best assets.

Finally, be official and get organised 

As you will probably know if you’ve ever done a Business French module at university, the French love formality, especially in professional settings.

So make sure your CV and cover letters are a gleaming example of French grammar perfection, and refer to your old textbooks to check how to structure a formal letter.

Even on the phone, treat people as though you’re talking to the president’s grandmother and remember that interviews tend to be extremely formal affairs, too, so keep the small talk to a minimum and be sure to use ‘vous’ instead of ‘tu’.

Keep a folder of all your paperwork handy (including a photocopy of your passports, bills, health insurance, and of course your CV) and try to translate every section of your CV so your experience is as clear as possible to the employer.

Make sure it’s clear what sector you have worked in if a direct translation isn’t possible, and never lie about your past experience, as they WILL check.

Happy job hunting!

Websites to look at:



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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.