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The 10-point checklist: What to do to get that job in France

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The 10-point checklist: What to do to get that job in France
People walk through the La Defense business district, on the outskirts of Paris. Photo: AFP
14:14 CEST+02:00
If you want to find a job in France, you should really make sure you’re ticking all these boxes. Here’s how.

It’s not easy to find a job in France.

There’s a fairly rigid job market that often makes it tough to either move between positions or indeed convince a French company to take you on if you haven't followed the classic French career path.

And while the unemployment rate is falling, it’s still hovering around 9 percent. 

And consider that while it may be tricky for French people to find jobs, it’s especially tough for foreigners - many of whom have the disadvantage of not speaking fluent French. 

And before we even get started - speaking French is essentially the top way to increase your chances of getting a job here. But you hopefully knew that already. 

Photo: Pixabay

To take it a step beyond just learning French, we’ve called on Megan Collins, a Senior Consultant at recruitment agency Euro London Appointments in Paris, to highlight some important points to consider when seeking a job in France.

She says that the trickiest part of finding a job is finding the right role for your profile. But with a fairly consistent job market in France that's been steady for a few years, she says it's the perfect time to get those CVs out. 

Let's get started.

1. Write your CV in French AND English 

While it might sound obvious to write your CV in French, that doesn’t mean you should forget about English, says Megan Collins.

“You don’t know whose hands your CV will fall into,” she tells The Local. 

“We have lots of international clients in France, but where the HR team is based out of London. So with that in mind, your CV may travel via London even for a job in France.”

She adds that many international organisations in France may have recruiters who prefer to read in English - so why sell yourself short?

“It’s better to cover yourself, have the CV in both languages. And it should go without saying, make sure you pay massive attention to the details.”

2. Keep your CV to two pages

Your CV should never be more than two pages in France, says Collins, and no more than one page for a junior. 

“The French are more concise with their CVs, so make sure you do the same thing,” Collins says. 

Instead of going on and on about every job you've ever had, highlight your educational achievements, which are taken very seriously in France. 

If you've studied in France, companies will look into it. And if you have studied French courses then make sure you mention the school, the course and the result.

Remember: Translating degree or diploma results can be hazardous as the French have a very different marking system. You should really consider putting grades in both English and French if possible.

Read a full guide on writing a French CV here.

Photo: Nguyen Vu Hung/Flickr

3. Don't stray from the topic

Outside of France, firms may be 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 the rest.

If you're lucky enough to the get to the interview stage, keeping on topic is especially relevant too. A typical job interview abroad can often start with some simple small-talk and ice-breakers. “How was your weekend?” “Any plans for the summer?” and so on…

Not in France. You'll be expected to talk about how well-suited you are to the job at hand, and why. And that's it.

Launch into your best inter-railing anecdote, or get started on how it's the humidity, not the heat that bothers you, and you will be perceived as unprofessional, and not a serious candidate, rather than as a friendly individual.

By contrast, if you get hired, expect your colleagues and your bosses to invite you for a glass of wine on a regular basis. That's the perfect time to get personal.

4. Focus on LinkedIn

After writing your CV, your LinkedIn account is the number one thing to focus on, says Collins. 

“It’s essential, everyone in France is all over it and there are so many organisations advertising jobs and recruiters looking for people.”

Your LinkedIn account should be fully completed with a current picture, and information under all your past job titles.

“Then connect with others as much as you can,” Collins adds. 

Photo: AFP

5. Maximise your profile in France

Register with a number of different recruitment agencies relevant to your field and save your CV on job boards wherever you can find the. 

“You need to put yourself out there and maximise your profile in France, you never know where the next job offer will come from,” Collins says. 

Here are some good recruitment agencies to start your search: www.monster.frwww.keljob.comwww.recrut.comwww.cadreemploi.fr

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

Photo: Pixabay

6. Consider sending an introduction email

One way to make a recruiter remember you is to send an extra email with your application. 

“If there’s an email address on the application, it can help to send a short message to the recruiter too,” Collins says.

“I personally have more of a tendency to respond to these ones because the applicant has gone to the extra trouble. Just make sure you don’t waffle on.”

She adds that sometimes recruiters won’t add any email addresses to their adverts, so making the extra effort won’t always be an option. 

7. Don't hide behind the keyboard

It's quite easy to stay home online, but don't forget 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.

Get to know the places where fellow Anglos hang out and head there yourself. Keep an eye out for any expat meet-up events too, anything from a a pub quiz to an organised meet-up. These are an easy way in to get to know people.

A screenshot from Meetups in Paris. Photo: Meetup.com

8. Be prepared to wait

So you've lodged your application and now it's time to wait. And wait. And wait, apparently. But don't be discouraged. 

"You have to accept that the recruitment process can typically take longer in France, it just does, and you have to be prepared," says Collins. 

Indeed, anyone who has done any form of French admin won't be surprised to hear that job admin is also a lengthy process. 

But, crucially, the waiting game is the very last part. And if you feel you've got nothing else to do, go back to point four and start again. 

9. Don't kiss your interviewers

All the usual advice applies in France, of course: be punctual, research the job, know your CV and know how to relates it to the position, smile, be positive, and be ready to ask questions.

But there are France-specific things to consider too. For example: Even though it's probably your first time meeting the interviewers, you shouldn't kiss them on the cheek, as you perhaps would with everyone else. A warm, firm handshake with eye contact and a smile is as appropriate in Lyon as it is in Leeds or Los Angeles.

And no matter what, stick with the formal vous if you're speaking French, and refer to your interviewers as Madame or Monsieur until you're invited to do otherwise. 

READ ALSO: Vital tips for a successful job interview in France

Photo: Amtec Staffing/Flickr

10. Don't hand your notice in until you've signed your new contract

Well done, you've got the job! Or at least that's what they've told you. But as you've probably figured out in France, nothing means anything without the correct paperwork. 

In other words, you might not actually have the job yet. So with that in mind, don't resign from your current job (if you have one) until you've put your name on the dotted line for the new position.

We've heard tales of promised jobs vanishing into thin air in France, even after salary negotiations and pension plans have been agreed upon. Just remember: A job isn't a job until it's on paper. 

 

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