If you want to find a job in France, speaking French is important. If you don’t speak French, it is hard to find anything but the most menial employment, so think about taking a language course if your French is rusty or non-existent. Use this guide to find out more about the French employment market, what sort of jobs are available in France, as well as where you can search to find jobs in France.
Be prepared to be flexible when searching for a job in France. If you can’t find your ideal job at first, look at what other jobs in France are on offer and consider taking something else to get your foot in the door. Lots of jobs in France are filled through contacts, so make – and then use – as many personal and professional contacts as you can to maximize your job opportunities.
Jobs in France
This guide to jobs in France includes:
- Jobs in France: job websites, recruitment agencies, and organizations
- The French job market: unemployment, minimum wage, restrictions
- Available jobs and shortage occupations in France
- French business culture and working environment
- French work visas and permits
- Language and qualifications required
- How to apply for a job in France
Work in France
The job market in France
At the end of 2016, the French unemployment rate stood at 9.7 percent, slowly improving from the 18-year high of around 10.5 percent in 2015 (INSEE). However, unemployment continues to remain high for under 25s, of which around 23.3 percent were unemployed in 2016, among the highest rates in Europe. Against this backdrop, the majority of contracts are flexible, and permanent contracts are few. Employment levels are not predicted to rise significantly, however, there are jobs to be had especially in certain sectors (see below), although you stand a much better chance of employment if you speak French.
The minimum wage (salaire minimum interprofessional de croissance or SMIC) in 2107 was set at EUR 9.76 per hour (around EUR 1,480.27 gross per month). The SMIC is reviewed on 1 January and again in the year if the consumer price index increases by more than 2 percent of the SMIC. Read more in our guide to French minimum wage and average salary in France.
Nationals from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) and Switzerland have the same rights to employment as French citizens, except some public administration positions which require French citizenship. Most other nationalities, however, will usually only be able to get a job in France if no suitable French/EU candidate is available to do it.
Available jobs in France
The major industries in France are aerospace, motor industry, pharmaceutical, industrial machinery, metallurgy, electronics, textiles, food and drink, and tourism. According to a report by Hays, in 2015 engineering, research and development (R&D), IT and banking were the sectors exhibiting the most employment growth. Around three-quarters of the population is employed in services.
Management skills are in particular demand in sales management-level occupations, construction, and science and engineering – especially in areas outside major French cities – as well as in business marketing,
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distribution, industry (agribusiness, mechanical, electrical, metallurgy), health and social work, banking and insurance, and IT industries. The public sector, accounting for around one in five jobs in France, also reported shortages; many civil jobs are open to EU nationals in state and regional administration and healthcare.
Jobs can also be found in tourism (including hotels, restaurants, catering), care to give (home, medical, psychiatric, childcare), retail and agriculture. English-language teaching is also an option.
You can also check the French government’s list of shortage occupations in France.
If you’re a graduate, you’re most likely to find work with a multinational or large national employer that has many companies, for example, AXA, BNP Paribas, Carrefour, Crédit Agricole, EDF, L’Oréal, Michelin, Orange, PSA Peugeöt Citroen, Renault, Saint-Gobin, Sanofi, Total and Vivendi. You can also try looking for work with a company in your home country that has offices in France.
Some major hirers in 2015 included Alten, Capgemini, Castorama, Elior, Engie, Eurodisney, GSF, ISS France, Keolis, La Poste, McDonald’s France, Onet Propreté et Services, SNCF, Société Générale, Sopra, Quick, and Vinci.
Work experience is considered vital so if you’re a graduate consider an internship or stage and get some tips on how to succeed in a job interview as well as how to write a French CV and CV mistakes to avoid. Be flexible and prepared to take a job you might not consider back home to get started working in France, give you a chance to brush up your French, and allow you to make as many contacts as possible. By gaining more local experience and networks, your job opportunities in France will improve with time.
French business culture and working environment
In France, businesses have a strong hierarchy with clearly defined positions and power. Secretaries work hard to protect their bosses from disturbances so you will hardly speak directly to people in top positions. Even the seating arrangements around a meeting table will be organized according to rank.
When you’re in a meeting expect to discuss the subject rather than make a decision on it. When decisions are made every aspect will be analyzed extensively beforehand. Strategies tend to be long term and planned only by senior staff. Punctuality is important, appointments are necessary, and negotiations are calm and formal. Read more about business culture in France.
French labor laws are protective with a statutory working week of 35 hours (after which you get paid overtime), around one to two hours for lunch and a minimum of five weeks’ holiday a year. In 2014 the French government even introduced a law banning workers in the digital and consultancy sectors from answering work-related emails or phone calls outside of work hours. If you’re working for a company of more than 50 employees you’ll automatically enjoy the protection of a French employment union, even if you don’t join it.
Visas and permits to work in France
If you’re a citizen of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland you can work in France freely. Almost everyone else who wants to work in France will have to first find a job and then the prospective employer will apply for authorization for you to work. More information is provided in our guide to French work permits and visas.
Languages needed to work in France
If you want to get a job you’ll typically need to speak French to a good standard – even if a job requires you to speak your mother tongue they will probably still require some French language proficiency. If your French isn’t up to scratch you might consider a job teaching English while you study French at a language school in France.
Qualifications and references
Countries signed up to the Bologna Process will have their educational qualifications recognized in France. If you’re from anywhere else, then you can find out whether the qualifications you’ve obtained in your home country will be recognized in France through the Centre ENIC-NARIC France.