Six surefire ways to further your career in France in 2020

Make 2020 the year that you take the next step in your international career with these six moves that will help you to rise the ranks in France (and beyond).

Published: Fri 3 Jan 2020 06:00 CEST
Six surefire ways to further your career in France in 2020
Photo: ESSEC

No matter how high up you were in your career ‘back home’, it can feel like you’re starting from scratch when you move to a new country. This is especially true in France, where the rigid job market can be tough to crack if you haven’t followed the traditional French career path.

That’s not to say you can’t quickly rise the ranks with a few tweaks to your CV and a couple of professional add-ons. The Local has partnered with prestigious Paris-based business school ESSEC to bring you the following essential tips for furthering your international career. 

Top up your professional qualifications

Few things top having studied at a school that the hiring manager recognises and admires. Seeing a qualification from a respected French institution on your CV can help you to stand out from other international job seekers.

ESSEC, which came seventh in the Financial Times European Business School rankings 2019, offers a range of full-time general and specialised MBAs and part-time Executive MBAs to help you unlock the next career level, whether you plan to stay in France or move elsewhere following your studies. 

Open Day at ESSEC. Photo: ESSEC

Head along to ESSEC’s Open Day in Paris on February 1st to speak with alumni and programme directors and find out what you can get out of the programme. It’s your chance to discuss your career objectives and find an MBA programme that helps you to meet them. 

If you can’t attend in person, you can always join the Digital Open Week in March where you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions in real-time during live webinar sessions.

Learn French

This one really goes without saying, but did you know that French is also one of the world's most important business languages? So whether you plan on working in France for the foreseeable future or moving onto another country further down the line, you never know what doors speaking French can open for you. Better start learning to parler français...

Whip your CV into shape in French and English

Photo: ESSEC

It’s common sense to write your CV in French if you’re applying for jobs in France but don’t archive your English CV just yet. Many international companies in France have HR teams based around the world and so you never know where your CV will end up once you fire it off. Cover yourself by submitting it in both languages and remember to keep it short -- the French like concise CVs so stick to two pages, or one if you’re a junior. 

Whether you're applying for jobs in France or elsewhere in Europe, it's best practice to submit your CV in the local language (unless the job is solely in English). It's always a good idea to speak to a local recruiter to find out how CVs are typically presented in that country and format yours similarly. 

Highlight your education

Perhaps more so than in other countries, your educational achievements matter in France. Companies will scrutinise your studies and qualifications (and probably check up on them too, so don’t be tempted to tell any tall tales just because you’re abroad!). It may help to list the original degree or diploma result as well as the French equivalent. For example, a British 2:1 is the equivalent of a mention bien in French. 

An MBA from ESSEC will elevate your CV whether you plan to stay in France or relocate after your studies. The highly-ranked business school has an excellent reputation around the world that will instantly set you head and shoulders apart from other applicants. 

Build your profile

Get yourself on the radar of recruiters and companies by saving your CV on jobs boards or sharing it with hiring managers or recruitment agencies. But try not to hide behind the keyboard: put yourself out there and be bold, go out and meet people so they can put a face to a name.

Social networking site Meetup lists plenty of networking events where you can meet other English-speaking professionals. Get to know the places where other international residents congregate; often, you’ll find, they are keen to lend a helping hand to others in the same boat. Meetup is a global platform so is a handy resource wherever you decide to pursue your career; likewise, Facebook often has expat groups you can join to meet other international professionals.

Photo: ESSEC

Once you’re enrolled at ESSEC, you’ll have access to the business school’s extensive network of partner companies in Europe, so you can begin building your profile in and outside of France. There’s also a 60,000-strong global network of alumni who you can connect with for advice or to enhance your future career prospects.

Do your homework

Professional decorum differs everywhere and familiarising yourself with the way of operating in the country you hope to work in should be high up on your agenda. For example, interview etiquette is important and France has its own set of rules to remember such as not kissing the interviewer on the cheek and sticking with the formal vous if you’re speaking French, as well as referring to your interviewer/s as Madame or Monsieur until they invite you to do otherwise.

MBA participants at ESSEC can take advantage of personalised mentoring to help them understand the industry they want to enter as well as the market. The career services department supports participants to develop the skills to become stand-out candidates for world-class recruiters. It’s the cherry on top of a rigorous programme that will prime you to take the next step in your career, be it in France or beyond.

Business etiquette may differ but one thing doesn’t: MBA demand around the world is high.


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