Needed - Jobs in France

Hi. We are looking to move to France, my partner is worrying about employment. He is currently an engineer in the UK for caterpillar (large construction machinery), he has lots of experience on all sorts of other machinery including agriculture machinery. Is there anyone out there with ideas or company’s to talk to. He is very worried his French is currently limited but eager to learn French.

Thank you in advance

Hi Jodie, I don’t want to put a downer on your plans but unemployment is high in France amongst French nationals, trying to find a job without fluent French as a non-national without French training and qualifications is even harder. It will also dictate where you locate to in France. To be honest, if you need a job I would try and get the job first then move. If you have an area in mind then traul the yellow pages and write/phone/call into possible companies/businesses. If his skills are very specific then target those companies at a national level. Or a “plan B” could be to move and for him to set himself up self employed and try and build up a business (which may be rather difficult with little French). I’m sure others will chip-in with more advice. Bonne chance ! :wink:

I have to agree with Andrew. If you need to work in France you should get a job before coming here. The unemployment levels in France are astronomic and it’s difficult enough for French nationals to get jobs and they will nearly always be given priority. Your partner will almost certainly need to speak fluent French to be even considered for a job. He will need to understand, and be understood, during an interview at the very least.

You also need to check that any qualifications will be accepted by French companies. I’m a Certified Accountant and a Chartered Tax Adviser, both highly regarded in the UK but irrelevant in France. I was told straight away that these hard earned qualifications were not transferable.

I don’t mean to put you off and, of course, there are many British people working successfully in France but your partner is very correct to be concerned. Best of luck to you both, I hope it works out for you.

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Hi there…

As everyone says… get to grips with the language…

but, just thinking about when I worked in UK… our company had links with many other countries…and some of the workforce got jobs abroad through these links.

Is this an avenue your husband can try…??

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Hi Jodie,

Your husband probably knows this, but Caterpillar have a business in France, based in Grenoble, which advertises jobs via Pôle Emploi (the French National Job Centre) :

Caterpillar France Recruitment

Perhaps there are internal avenues that might be explored via HR within Caterpillar itself, unless of course, he no longer wishes to work for them.

As an engineer, he would likely be considered for a job as a “cadre” - this is a form of socio-economic status which is both a help and a hindrance - trying to apply for a less qualified post will be incredibly difficult, and to the converse, looking for jobs as a “cadre” will reduce the number of jobs available, but if your husband doesn’t speak French will be even more difficult (not impossible, just difficult).

By law, job vacancies within most (all?) French firms have to be posted with the national job centre system at least for a while, but as I have found in my own personal experience, when I was briefly unemployed before setting up my own business, are essentially useless. It is a system where one, as an individual, is confined to a box with a specific “label” - the job centre will only call you or contact you when they have a job offer that exactly matches the “label” they have determined for you…

Your husband might be better off searching for a job on a specialized website, such as the APEC (link), or CadrEmploi (link)

Alternatively, services like Monster recruitment or LinkedIn Jobs Search might bring up something.

Unless the job posting is with an international company specifically looking for an English speaker, expect the interview and all dealings with HR or a recruiting agency to be in French. Even though many French mechanical engineering firms can and do use English as a medium for international business dealings, the common language used internally will still be French (this is actually the law in France, despite some firms having attempted to impose all-English communication).

Good luck with your searching !


Forgot to add that, as an EU member, a UK job seeker is entitled to request that his/her employment contract be drawn up in English, in addition to French. Not many people know this, but I can imagine that asking for this straight off the bat might not go down too well with your future employer.

Some companies that might be of interest:

Kuhn (agricultural machines)

Parker Hannifin France

Ingersoll Rand


Those are just a few…

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Thank you all for input. Lots more for us to research. I maybe back with more questions.

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I think Caterpillar have a plant in Grenoble. Worth a try.

To work in France the first requirements are to be able not only to speak French but to be able to read,write and understand it as well. UK degrees and qualifications may not be acceptable either as I found out very quickly and you may find yourself working as a cleaner or on a factory production line. Get a job lined up before you burn your bridges, rent a house rather than buy to start as you may need to move and keep enough money to be able to live for a year without a steady job.

Hello folks,
First, if you want a job as an English native speaker, you can aim at the jobs where English proficiency is needed. But, but… trust me, you will rarely feel a part of it (except rare companies) if you can’t afford a B2 level in French, so work it ! It will take you maybe 2 hours A DAY to achieve this level IN TWO YEARS. Recommended tricks to learn French :slightly_smiling_face:

  • Learn oldschool French Rap* songs, they are mostly well written (avoid violent ones) Classics are IAM, Akenaton, Mc Solaar, Hocus pocus, etc… Figure out each word IN THE DICTIONARY, not inthetranslatemylyricsbecauseimlazy’.com
  • Go to the french “centre culturel” in your country or in French embassy to ask where to take real French courses with real French people. They are really open-minded and nice.
  • Get rid of your accent.
  • Duolinguo - Website and app.
  • Bescherelle for verbs. (important)
  • Bled for grammar. (important)
  • Watch funny french things (TV programs like les guignols de l’info, Gad El Maleh, Groland, French youtubers like Norman fait des vidéos, etc)
    feel free to watch it with FR subtitles.
  • You can do some HelpX in France if you can take a month off par ci par là.
  • Use dictionnaries, google translate, and UNDERSTAND how French works.
  • Taste French cheese :wink: or more seriously learn about the culture, you’ll love it!

Other and also important :slight_smile:
Get yourself a real French degree. That will exponentially give you opportunities in : France, Quebec, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Senegal and french speaking countries. YOU CAN GET IT WITH MOOCS OR DISTANT LEARNING. You also can take TCF EXAM (recommended before starting).
In your case Mrs Osborne, your husband can check in for an industrial purchasing degree in distant learning (2 years).
There are jobs in France in need of people to fill the empty positions. Don’t forget that.

  • : Rap because of the density of the texts. I gave you quality reference. 1 song a month. Keep your earplugs 24/24.
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20 years ago i applied for a transfer with my company which is German to the Toulouse depot as an engineer the transfer hinged on the depot manager excepting me ,he refused, regardless of my ability and recommendations from UK office or my ability to speak French while i was offered the chance to apply to other areas Toulouse was the depot closest where we had our house so further afield would have been impracticable .Have you applied to Cat for a transfer would they assist as my company did which was Still while finding work isn’t impossible its going to be difficult

I’m an engineer working in France for the previous 4 years. Location is important. I work in Toulouse and there are currently 8000+ open engineering positions in all areas of the aerospace industry. Dont be afraid to apply, ASSYSTEM, SOGETI, LATECOERE and a host of other suppliers are currently looking for engineers and technical staff in many areas. Fluency in English is a must. Fluency in french is important but will come with time and lessons. Good luck!


I hope you are taking heart from the many suggestions… it seems to me that, in the meantime, you and OH should be doing everything you can to improve your language skills… (bearing in mind that fluency will come with use…) :relaxed:

good luck

Another option might be to consider self-employment - in Brittany at least there are many farms and smallholdings that are owned by English-speakers, as well as other businesses and homes with large gardens that have some machinery - there are many people that earn a living here trading primarily with the English-speaking community, and there is help if you need it with the French paperwork side of self-employment.

He has to get that right first, then go looking for a job.

But France is a major agricultural producer so the likelihood that he could find a job are pretty good. First thing, he translates his “CV”* into French, which could get him in the door for an interview …

*CV = Curriculum Vitae (but nobody calls it that)