Find a job in France, like in any other country, is not an easy task. Obviously, the level of difficulty varies according to the type of job you are looking for. It is not the same to look for a student job, which are generally unskilled jobs and offer is higher, than a job as a professional where the offer is scarcer, and companies are more selective. It will also be much easier if you are already in France, and if you did your studies here, as I explain in this post.
I have heard that, on average, it takes a person 6 months to get a qualified job in France, which I can confirm with examples of my entourage. The French labor market is not very dynamic in my opinion, compared to other markets such as the US or even some countries in Latin America. The French labor code is very good about working conditions for employees, but that also makes it less flexible, social charges are also quite high, so it is not that easy for a small or medium-sized company to create a job and the contractual conditions make the companies very selective in their hiring. This is, I repeat my opinion, but I will make another post on employment contracts and working conditions in France to explain that in detail.
In this post I explain which are, from my experience after almost 10 years of living in France, the best ways to look for a job, or the ones that in my opinion can prove more effective to find a job in France.
Through your university
The easiest way, if you studied in France, is through your school or university, especially if it is a private school or “Grande école”. Private schools generally need to show good employability figures for their graduates and have business relations offices that help place their students after graduation.
Another way, to me the best one, is through an internship. Depending on your field of study, it is very likely that you will have to do an internship to validate your degree. In my case, it was not compulsory to do an internship, but I asked the university to allow me to do it and this is how I got into the company where I work until today.
An internship allows you to set foot in the company and be able to show your skills. For the company it is also like a “trial period” to see if your skills and your profile are a fit to what they are looking for in a long-term job.
For this reason, it is also important that the choice of your internship is made with a long-term vision, choosing a company or a position in which you can see yourself in the long term.
This option, quite effective too, is the most difficult for us foreigners, since we come to France without knowing anyone.
Some universities or schools have active alumni offices that can refer you for a vacancy at the companies they work for. You may wonder why would they refer you if they do not know you, in some cases maybe they won’t, but it is possible that it is someone who understands the importance of networking and also the importance that more alumni of their university / school are in the workplace, since this improves the reputation of the school and may open more doors in the future. It could also be possible that it is a foreigner who already had to go through the same process and knows that it is not easy to find a job in France. Some large companies have co-opting programs in which an employee receives a bonus or some benefit if a person they refer is hired, so it is an option worth exploring.
When you have been in France for several years and have had time to build a network, when you want to change jobs it is quite useful to ask in your entourage if there is any opportunity to which your profile may correspond in the companies they work for.
Websites and online job boards
The other option is the classic and traditional internet search. This option is the one that 90% of people use to find a job, and obviously requires spending a lot of time and sending several applications before receiving a call.
As many people are applying for the same position, companies have automatic filters that filter candidates according to the criteria defined by the recruiting company, so consistency and perseverance is key.
Below I list the websites that in my opinion are the most effective and with the largest number of job offers:
- Indeed: This is the job search engine par excellence, it is a search engine that groups job offers from different sources, so there is a wide variety of offers. It is quite intuitive and easy to use;
- Linkedin: Increasingly used by companies for recruitment purposes, it is a powerful tool since it allows you to send your CV directly to the recruiters, so you have more opportunities for your application to be seen. If you have a premium account, you have more possibilities. I have never had a premium account so I cannot comment, but I have heard good comments;
- APEC: This website is the version of pole emploi (the French employment agency) for “executives” i.e. qualified jobs (License level or above). It is also worth creating an account, since some offers will redirect you to the company’s website, but a significant number can also be sent directly from APEC’s website or mobile application, which makes the process faster.
- Headhunters / recruitment agencies: Recruitment agencies or headhunters are also a good source of offers. Personally, I recommend Hays and Michael Page, they are two of the most recognized and the offers they publish are very interesting.
Another option worth exploring is unsollicited applications, i.e. sending your CV and motivation letter to the company without a published job offer.
On most companies’ websites, in the careers section, there is an option to send an unsolicited application or an email address where you can send it.
Personally, I think that this strategy is more effective in small or medium-sized companies, since in a large company your CV will be lost among the other thousands of CVs they receive each week.
Advices and recommendations
As I already mentioned, this is not an easy task, even more so considering the fact of being a foreigner, in some cases not speaking the language perfectly and not having a network of contacts. On top of this, French educational system, paradoxically, is an elitist system and this is reflected in the labor market, so the place where you study also influences your chances of getting a job in France, but I will talk more about this in another post.
The key to success is consistency and discipline, not to be discouraged if some time goes by without hearing back from companies, in the end all that work, and time will be rewarded.
To conclude, I just want to leave you with some advices and recommendations that could be useful from my own experience:
- Anticipation: As I said before, this process can take several months, so it is important to start searching early. If you are still studying, you can start months before finishing, this will also give you an idea of the job market in your field;
- Create alerts: Create alerts with the keywords of your search on the websites I already mentioned, so you will receive a notification each time there is a new opening that matches your search;
- Define search criteria according to your skills: For companies it will always be easier to hire a French citizen, and there are many qualified people in the market looking for a job, so I recommend looking for jobs in which your skills, be it language, specific skills or knowledge of foreign markets may be useful for the company and differentiate you from other candidates;
- Consistency: Set a goal and spend time sending applications either once or twice a week or, better yet, every day. In some cases, it takes hundreds of applications to land the first interview, so consistency is vital;
- Expand your search: Obviously Paris, being the capital, concentrates most of the companies and headquarters of large groups, however, in other smaller or intermediate cities there are also employment opportunities and sometimes with a better quality of life and reduced cost of living.
- Work on your French: If it’s not already the case, I’d recommend you start working on your French. Although it is possible to find jobs in which speaking French is not required, it definitely narrows your possibilities a lot, so speaking French is very important to increase your chances of finding a job.
Once you received the long-awaited job offer, another key moment comes, which is the salary negotiation, but I will talk about that in another post.
Do not hesitate to leave your questions below. If you are already working in France and have more tips to share on how to find a job in France, do not hesitate to do so.