Do you #work in #France?

How did you get your job, are you self-emloyed or do you have a salaried position?

What tips do you have for people looking for work in France?



Just saw the discussion and wanted to share my situation. I arrived in France many years ago, just having graduated from a degree in Modern Languages including French. I started right on the bottom rung and took a BTS (equivalent HND) as a PA at the local Chamber of Commerce as an apprentice. I was lucky to be taken on and was fortunate enough to do quite well in the course and get taken on after finishing. A few years down the line, I have managed to prove that I can perform well and have a decent job with a decent salary in a Business School - in charge of international exchanges, partnerships and foreign languages. Most of the other expats that I know are teaching.

I would definitely recommend a very good command of the French language - spoken and written and potentially a French qualification - the apprenticeship system is open to Europeans under the age of 26 I think and means that you earn something while learning. There are some specialised web sites for non-nationals such as FUSAC but mainly for jobs in Paris etc...In the provinces, higher education may be a good starter or some of the catholic private secondary schools with European sections.

I have just hired 2 non-French members of my team but their French skills were a deciding factor.

Good luck to all.

Perché no! Ma devo dirti che il mio italiano è andato in rovine molto tempo fa, non ho quasi mai la possibilità di parlare in italiano e anche se faccio sempre qualque traduzzione, non è la stessa cosa. Anch’io ho questo problema quando parlo un po’ d’italiano – è piuttosto francese che italiano!!!

I haven’t as yet worked out what to do about it, my excuse is I need to go to Italy for a while but OH and young kids aren’t too convinced! Occasionally watch a bit of RAI 1 via the internet but as you know having kids, mine are 4 and 2, there just isn’t the time!

As for separating them in your head... it was a nightmare at uni going from one language to another in the space of a 5 min break. To such an extent that a lot of students end up dropping one language, stick just to the other and doing more cultural studies to pad out their degree. I went to uni with much better Italian (that’s what I started with at evening class for holidays) and so needed to come to France in my 3rd year and from then on French took over and with languages it’s always a case of “use it or lose it” and my Italian seems to be slowly drifting away

Ciao e a presto

Allora ci possiamo parlare in italiano d'ora inavanti!! Is there a secret to separating two languages in your head? ... my spoken italian is now littered with french - really annoying.

Interesting one that Christine, I've pretty much stopped teaching English now (CCI and IUT) but still teach French to foreign students at the local IUT (thanks to a maîtrise français langue étrangère... long story). Like you I'm an AE but now mainly in the translations market but would be interested to learn more about how home teaching actually works (my PGCE is in MFL - French and Italian)

I am a qualified teacher, and in the UK I taught Geography and Physics. Here in France I am on the Auto-Entreprenneur scheme and I teach IGCSE Geography to homeschooled children, online. It is a very rewarding job - I get to work from home and am there for my children, and the children I teach have left mainstream education for a variety of reasons, but the one thing they have in common is how glad they are to have proper lessons at home. I really recommend it to any qualified teachers out there who are struggling to find teaching work. I also do home tuition online, teaching Maths to english students in French schools, where language is holding back their learning. I really love my job!

Good luck Vaucluse - UK must be a nightmare for commuting. It's the same for teaching too - I'm a qualified languages teacher PGCE, it's the equivelent to a CAPES, higher even, so I can teach English in French schools for the rest of my days... but only as a remplaçant - I have to do the concours and French CAPES to justify being a titulaire!!! You're better off looking for teaching work in Unis and CCI, plus the pay can be better. When I was at Uni in Aix-en-Provence they were looking for an anglophone to teach english - Experience has taught me that here in France, to get anywhere, you need to be pushy and go and see people face to face - write to specific people, heads of dept etc.

I hope that helps

Bonne chance !

Pop into your local hospital and ask, as Nicky said, I think your French will have to be very good and watch out for the "non respet" of European qualification harmonisation agreements - the french are a rule unto themselves and prefer to break the rules to keep french people in jobs - non french doctors get paid far less than french ones even in the same hospital doing the same job!

I work for and there are some opportunities, particularly in the Cote d'Azur and alps that are available now

I hear you, Andrew. I'm just lucky that I did hotel and catering management back home while I figured out what I wanted from life.

you're right, it's the same in construction, once you get your foot in the door, you can show them your worth, climb the ladder, and network your way to other, better, and higher paid posts. I think the same can be said for agriculture, in many cases.

My partner left school early (in Paris), to work, and she got a lot of crap from the family, people around her (you know how in Paris, EVERYONE parents your kid for you) When we got back from Australia, i sailed into a job, but, with no 3rd level school behind her, she was left out in the cold. I had to get a job first, and then pull her in, even though she IS French, and my French at the time was really not that good.

now I know enough hoteliers to get work easily in the area, and she did her formation apicole, and has started beekeeping as a business this year.

Just to make things clear "winners" refering to the sectors in which expats may find work without too much hassle - the aim of this thread if I'm not mistaken. But as we've said, every area/person/qualifications/language skills situation is different for each and every expat so it's a little bit difficult to give specific advice!

Zoe - I teach in higher education and over the half the people should have left school at 16 or 18 and started working in my opinion but french youth unemployment is so high that successive governments have tried to keep these figures under control by keeping youngsters in education. the result is what you say, if you haven't got a bac +5 then you'll be sweeping the streets. I first came across this teaching horticulture BTS students in brittany... bac+2 to work in garden centres! now I often have bac+3 students and higher who then go to work on the shop floor of local factories. every sector is different but I still think the winners are hotel/catering, construction and "services à la personne" as they're all still taking people on. yes the pay isn't always top but there's often room to advance if you're committed and good. Just my thoughts!

I'd second what Nicky said especially about the capes teaching concours - it's very tough and the joke is that no English person will ever pass the english teaching capes - you have to have learnt the language as a foreign language to understand what they want! it also means handing yourself over to the state and letting them dictate where you work at first (almost always the crappiest schools in Paris) and working for years to get enough points to move somewhere nice. Same for the post office (I have French family who have done both) they've just uped the requirements too - you now have to have a bac+4 (maîtrise) and that includes being a primary school teacher. Basically from experience the french concourts system in teaching is absolute rubbish. It takes the best candidates academically and gives them no real hands on pedagogical training in front of pupils before throwing them into the worst schools. I did my PGCE in the UK and a Maîtrise français langue étrangère in France at the same time: the diference was enormous and although my PGCE wasn't fantastic, I did spend half the time in schools teaching; being monitored and tutored. the maîtrise was 100% theoretical and the ideas were so abstract that you'd never use them unless you were later going to teach FLE at uni. and bear in mind at least a third of teachers want to get out (but don't dare leave the security) - from experience it can be a pretty shitty job - I've turned down posts in lycée/collège but that's just me, others might have jumped at the chance. as Nicky says, it's a lot of work and the results aren't always that superb - depends what you're aiming for!

Bonne chance !

Have any of you had experience in going for the 'concours', (ie entrance exams into state sector jobs, like teaching, social work etc many other areas too)If you are a mother of 3 children you are exempted from the entry requirements & can apply for the exams (in french) direct; I've thought about this but can't face going back to study again just yet. They are very selective (ie less than 20% of entrants get through) but really once you do, you can have a secure job because the point is that they train the people they need (in theory anyway) Corneille passed the concours for 'moniteur éducateur' which enables him to work with handicapped children or adults, then 2yrs PAID study and is now in permanent full time position.

I hear you Andrew, she didn't want to "dirty" her CV by putting "serveuse", or "chef du rang" on it. I had the same battle with my better half. The manager I had for the winter asked me to go work for them this summer, but told me that I would be doing everything, they'd just bought a small hotel, on Lake Annecy. I agreed, and found myself gardening, servicing bedrooms, dinner service, reception, the lot, but, it's true that on my CV, "toutes mains" looks a little odd for someone going for a manager/supervisor position.

When you think about it, if you don't have maths, they also look down on you here. A lot of people I know are so hell bent on sending their kids to those colleges where they do advanced maths. "From there" ,they say, "you can be an engineer in any field you want." "Without that", I'm told, "you're either sweeping the streets, or worse.. an artist."

ironically, I'm numerically dyslexic, but nobody noticed till I told them, and now it's just a joke. "don't let Zoe do the stocktake"etc.

i also noticed they didn't care about where I had worked, they only wanted to know what college/uni i had been to.

Very good advice Zoe for those looking for hôtel/resto work - one of the few areas that has never stopped recruting and I don't think that's likely to change for a while. What's more the pay isn't that bad - my other half is a qualified teacher but was tempted to apply for a local hotel/resto job that was paying more than her teaching salary but she's so typically French that she didn't want to risk the change and what would her family say never mind the fact that her school looks like it's going to close soon!

Qualifications come into play in a lot of jobs though - the French are obsessed by them to a far higher extent than in the UK. anglo saxon culture looks more at the person and what they're capable of while French/latin society looks at the qualifications and the person second.

For the education part, I found the opposite. People asked me what i did back home, and once I said I had the same as a "bac-pro" in hotellerie, they were falling all over me. The hotellerie here consists of service (resto), and kitchen. They like overseas workers, because we have to work in every department of the hotel before we qualify.

Nobody asked me for a CV, I was given a trial, and networked, and was offered work left,right and centre from there. As a beekeeper, my other half is a little limited, but when you're not scared to start "anywhere", and show good "volonté", you're rewarded a lot faster than at home.

One tip, don't worry about sounding cocky, but ask them to give you a trial. Most employers see this as a challenge. Either you get along fine, or not, either way, if you don't launch yourself, you're never going to land anywhere else other than the rut you're already in.

Yes, CCI is very demanding if you do it "properly" but the pay is good and I've met some excellent people/friends as stagiaires. IUT is not as rewarding/intense but is less pressure. I have done/do both to make a living not because I "need" it so I quite understand your viewpoint. also 19ecalendrierur isn't that bad outside big institutions - I was once offered 5€/hour by the rectorat de Toulouse + I would have had to travel around unpaid!!! There are also so many students trying to make a few € who have a reasonable level of English to teach kids that I've always steared clear of private work.

But there must be something good out there, brother-in-law has a farm, other BIL has a hotel and two newsagents (and more in bank repayments per month than I earn in a year!), friends have shops but it's getting it all up and running and the cost of it all!

Hang on in there Nicky, there's a single mum at the CCI where I used to teach (good hourly rates if you can get it : 29€/hr salaried vacataire and 40€/hr if you're indépendant - same rate as unis/IUTs etc) but try to get a salaried post even with the european agreements on qualifications...! I can work for the rest of my life as a remplaçant in the state system but not become a titulaire yet a capes and pgce are the same (things are changing now but I've lost the will to go on and turned down the last full time teaching job - classes of bulshy noisy teenagers for the rest of my days - I couldn't face it!

I often wonder how some survive too. company move is always a good one, the restaurant and building trades always seem to be looking for people as does 'service à la personne' and helping old folks etc... again you usually need to have done the french qualification to even be looked at!

I've worked for temping agencies whilst a (mature) student, teaching assistant whilst doing my degree. Then once qualified (languages teacher: French and Italian) and following a divorce I decided I didn't like teaching where I was in the Uk and came back to France for good and landed in the Aveyron (although I'd always wanted to go back to Aix-en-Provence but so so so expensive!). I couldn't get any work at first even though I was fluent in three languages, qualified teacher PGCE and have a French masters to teach French to foreigners... in short it's not always easy even when the language poses no problem! I turned down some extremely low paid work - less than the smic, then got an assitant's job teaching english and the odd mission for the CCI.then I set up as a freelance translator (and am still tranlsating 6 years on) I've also worked pretty much full time but freelance for th eCCI in Rodez teaching business and technical English (I've been an artistic blacksmith, naval officer, estate agent, etc... so plenty of varied life experience to offer). I also managed to land work teaching at the IUT in Figeac, English to start with and for the last 3 years I've been teaching French to Chinese students - still as a freelance worker - as I'm the only languages teacher with a maîtrise français langue étrangère to do it!

I thought about and was offered freelance estate agency work but turned it down (the company has since gone bust so the decision was a good one!). I'm still always looking for something else to do as I have no real job stability but not sure where things will take me!

Advice to others is learn the language asap and don't wait until you get here to start! Don't think it's a question of a few months or a year or two: beginner to degree level normally through school and uni takes 11 years of study and there are plenty of graduates who are still a long way off what I'd call fluent! It really is a marathon not a sprint!

If language skills aren't that brilliant then there seems to be a good network for expat business/services although I've never used it or had any feedback about it - depends where you are too!

The autoentrepreneur status has really simplified being self employed in France - it's now far cheaper with far less paperwork and hassle... BUT IT'S STILL 100 TIMES MORE PAPERWORK AND HASSLE THAN BEING SELF EMPLOYED IN THE UK - I know from experience!

One last thing to ponder... unemployment in France is as high as 20% and more in some parts of France, notably in some of the favorite expat southern towns. If very well qualified french people can't find a job what hope is there for an underqualified expat who can't speak the language... a harsh remark but it's designed to help people not to fall in to the "... we'll worry about that once we get there, something's bound to turn up" group.