France is one of the most popular destinations in the world to start your career, but this popularity also leads to a highly competitive job market. In this article, we try to give you some good pointers as to how you can navigate this job-jungle successfully.
Job search in France
Firstly is the job search, most students and graduates start their career in France by being interns or “stagiaires”. Always start off your search by looking at job search engines such as Graduateland, but also ask your university and your contacts if they are aware of any career opportunities for you in France. It is a great idea to check French jobs through Le Monde, Les Echos, and La Tribune.
The best chance you can give yourself for landing a job in France is speaking the language: French. This is a requirement for most companies, as French is the business language. The general level required is B2 at CEFR competency.
Even though this might be intimidating for many, this can really make you shine! Grab the bull by its horns and use the many opportunities for learning the language, such as private tutors, summer courses, apps, books - or just GO to France, the best way to rapidly learn a language is to be surrounded by it. Learning another language makes you a very competitive applicant, not just in France but in the rest of the world - so it is time well spent!
When applying for a job in France
When you have found the job you want to apply for, a big question arises: How to make a good application? In France they have many small rules and preferences, and here is a quick guide to what you need for a great CV and motivational letter:
- You must build your CV the French way, which means that you need to:
Make your CV concise, for junior positions max. 1 page and for senior positions max. 2 pages.
Add a passport picture on the CV, and make it normal! No drinks in your hand or too many filters.
Do not get too personal about yourself.
In France students study towards a career, so make sure your work experience, and if possible you education, are aimed at the industry you are applying to.
Translate it! Not just the written language, but also find the equivalent of your education and experience in French so the employers will better understand your qualifications.
Do not add references, but take them along to the interview
- For your motivational letter, there are not as many requirements. It is very similar to the western style, just remember to keep it formal and have set phrases, such as the sign-off phrase “Yours Sincerely” or in French “Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, l’expression de mes respectueuses salutations”.
- One of the best things to do is to find someone in your network that can help you with the language and the translation if you do not feel comfortable with it yet.
You got the interview, what now?
The best thing you can do before your interview is to prepare! Read up on the company, the position, the industry and the current news that might affect the company. This shows your dedication and that you have done your homework. Remember that you are not the only one applying for this job, and you want to leave a good impression.
The interview might be conducted in French, if that is the case immerse yourself in the language by practicing sentences, listening to the radio, and seeing French movies. It might also be a good idea to make small flashcards, or rehearse useful phrases that give you time to think during the interview.
To show respect to your interviewer address them as “Monsieur” or “Madam”, do not interrupt them, or talk badly about your previous employers.
Many interviews in France are also conducted through Skype, so make sure to test that your connection, video and sound work! Always dress professionally and be presentable for a job interview at any company, even if it is through Skype.
Working in France
A great thing about working in France is the great working conditions and social security coverage, as France has very strict employment laws.
The working week is 35-hours, with averagely two hours for lunch and a minimum of five weeks vacation a year, though these conditions might be different with an internship. You will also automatically enjoy the protection of the French employment union if you are working for a company of more than 50 employees.
If you are interning in France for more than two months you are entitled to a minimum salary of around €430 per month, even though some companies pay more, the minimum salary is the norm.