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How to find a job in France

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

When moving to France or just generally abroad, we all face the same challenges: finding a job and integrating into the new culture/life.

Sojoourn is on your side at every step of the way. We want to support expats and French people, who are coming home, and help them find a job, find their new home and connect them with their new friends.

Before giving you some tips on looking for a job, we have to point out that France is a country that is very proud to its language.

It’s not easy to find an English speaking job in France if you do not speak any French.

Of course, you can work in English at a bigger multinational company, but most of the informal conversation that happens at the coffee machine for example, or during lunch or even sometimes in a meeting will be in French. It's really necessary to speak some French to be able to integrate with your colleagues. Our advice to you is to show your future employer that you’re willing to learn the French language and you are super motivated to invest your time and energy to integrate better to the society.

1. Learn French

First things first, learning French. If you want to be more confident and reduce anxiety during the interviews, we highly recommend you to reach a B1-B2 level in French. This is the average level most of the employers are looking for, but it also means that you are able to maintain a good level of conversation with your future colleagues. There are plenty of language courses in Lyon that can help you get started. At Sojoourn we also offer conversational French courses in small groups or more intensive private classes. Try to meet French people socially, join our next ApéroFrancais event, watch French TV, listen to French radio, or take on a French lover. Invest in yourself and do whatever it takes to learn the language, if you plan to stay in France!

You can find more information about the Sojoourn French courses on our website, and look for our upcoming events to meet other expats who are in the same situation as you, or French people who want to be in an international environment.

2. Look at dedicated websites

Our second tip is to refine your job search by using websites dedicated to employment in France or even in Lyon for a specific sector.

Pôle emploi - the national agency for employment has a large number of offices across the country. Amongst others, both manual and unskilled labor jobs are listed.

APEC - the French national agency for the employment of professionals and executives (Agence pour l'Emploi des Cadres).

LinkedIn - try writing in the search bar "English speaking jobs in France" (or international or Europe or EMEA-Europe Middle East and Africa). Even if the job description is French you can apply if it says "anglais nécessaire", "anglais impératif", "langue de travail anglais", "maitrise de l’anglais".

3. Search for the headquarter of French companies

You can target big international French companies that have headquarters in France. Have a look at the CAC 40 list. It’s the 40 biggest private companies and big multinational groups that are on the stock market. You can also target other companies in France with an international presence.

4. Governmental organisations, embassies, NGO, UNESCO

Expand your search pool. Look up job openings at embassies, consulates and other governmental and non-governmental organisations, the UNESCO. These organisations often require a high level in multiple languages, which might be an advantage for you. Just remember you still need to be able to speak French for the office gossip.

It’s always better to double check their websites beside the job search engines, in case they didn't list everything. 

5. Become a freelancer and work wherever you like! 

There are a lot of websites where you can find opportunities to work independently, but you need to be registered as a freelancer. In France it is the "autoentrepreneur/ microentrepreneur" status. Depending on what field you want to work in, it is quite easy to register yourself at Urssaff. We have recently created a very useful guidebook with the most important informations.

We have collected some websites for you about remote working possibilities:

7. Work for yourself (microentreprise status)

You can do almost anything as a consultant/ coach/ counselor and you could provide services targeting English-speaking communities in France. If it's not possible for you to work for a French organisation, because you are still learning the language, why not use English for your advantage. If you have an interest, a skill, a passion for something, why not give it a go? Moving to a new country could be a good opportunity to reinvent yourself! If you like cooking, for example, you could provide workshops for French kids who want to learn English. French parents will love it because they want their kids to be able to speak English.

If you need any advice about starting your activity in France, feel free to contact us. We would be happy to give you with some tips.

Have a look at our blogpost about starting a freelance business in France.

8. Translate your resume/CV

Having a French CV is nearly a must if you are applying to any jobs in France. You can always lie a little bit but don't exaggerate too much, it could set you up for embarrassment during the interview process and could hurt your chances for future opportunities at the company.

For regulated professions, you need to get an academic and professional recognition of your qualifications from ENIC-NARIC. You may be required to take additional courses to be able to work in France. In some cases, your degrees or experience may not be recognized at all, which can be extremely frustrating.

9. Network, network and network!

Around 80% of the French job market is hidden, which means that most of the job openings are not advertised publicly. A lot of people get their jobs through networking. Why? Because here in France employees have many rights while employed. It is nearly impossible to fire somebody with a CDI working contract, so companies think twice before hiring someone. They want to be as sure as possible that the candidate is the perfect fit. If somebody can recommend you, it will reassure the company and give you an extra push. It's all about trust.

To network effectively in France, you should be very clear about your qualifications, what you want to do and speak to everyone you meet. It’s not easy and for sure not always comfortable but it works.

Never pass on an opportunity to go to networking events where professionals come together to share their experiences and learn more about the professional environment.

Even if you don't meet someone in your exact field, you may meet someone who can introduce you to others (and being introduced is the best you can ask for). Also, one contact often leads to another and you never know when you'll meet someone who is looking for the same thing you are offering.

Sojoourn has its own network with a community of around 1,500 expats. We regularly host networking events, like our famous ApéroExpats. It’s a casual after-work drink that brings together people from all around the world who are currently living in Lyon. It's an opportunity you shouldn't miss!

We launched Sojoourn Club in 2020 to offer you a safe space to connect on a new platform, because we know you deserve more than just a Facebook group. With our regular and members-only events (physical or online) you can start building meaningful relationships.

As a member you can benefit exclusive discounts, a personalised assistance for your administrative procedures, direct contact to English speaking experts and many more!

Finding a job in France can be really tough and most of the time it takes more than 6 months. Another possibility is to study in an English speaking master’s program and get an internship at the end of your program. After the internship you have better chances to enter the job market.

Be brave and remember networking is the key to succeed. Good luck!

The Sojoourn Team


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