France is a popular destination for many immigrants. Foreign workers choose France due to the rich culture, famous gastronomy and countless other reasons. However, it is not as easy as arriving in France and beginning any job you want. You must first successfully overcome the job application process by writing a good CV and cover letter. You must then pass a French job interview. Finally, after all this, you have to comply with the immigration requirements that permit you to reside and work legally in France.
Read the information below to learn how to deal with all of these challenges and start a new life on French soil.
French job application
It is important to be aware of some key differences to the job application process in France:
- Usually two to four interviews are held.
- Psychological tests are frequently used in France.
- For administrative jobs, assessment centres and panel interviews are not common.
- French language skills: for almost all jobs, it's essential that you have a good understanding of French (both spoken and written).
- Most attention is paid to the personality of the candidate.
CV for France
Writing a CV for a job in France is similar to writing an English CV with some subtle, but important, differences.
How to Structure a French CV
- Renseignements Personnels (Personal Information)
You must put your name, address, telephone number and email at the top of the CV. In France you should also put your age, nationality and marital status (including number of children, if any).
- Éducation (Education)
List where you have studied, what you studied and the qualifications you received, beginning with the most recent. GCSE’s are loosely equivalent to le brevet and A- Levels to le baccalauréat. For university grades, translate the achieved degree - if you got a First, write ‘mention très honorable’ – ‘with distinction.’ For a 2:1, ‘mention bien,’ and a 2:2, ‘mention assez bien’.
- Expérience professionnelle (Professional experience)
List the dates you worked, your role and the company you worked for. For example, 'Mai 2009 – Juin 2010. Google UK. assistant(e) administratif/tive.’ Similar to education, start with the most recently held position.
- Autres Renseignements (Additional Information)
List any other languages you speak, IT competency and anything else to show an employer the range of skills you have.
Cover letter for France - Lettre de Motivation
- The cover or motivation letter should be less than one A4 page.
- Avoid translating directly from English.
- If you do not know the identity of the recipient then start the letter with ‘Messieurs’.
- Remember to include your name and address on the top left, and the date underneath.
Begin the letter by expressing your interest in the job. For example, ‘Je me réfère à votre annonce et je me permets de poser ma candidature pour le poste de…’. Briefly explain your current occupation, and then, in more detail, exactly why you want the job. You should then discuss how your personal qualities and previous work experience make you the perfect candidate for the job.
Job interview for France
Here are some tips to help you overcome the French job interview successfully:
- Behave and dress very formally in France.
- Ask for clarification or repetition if you don't understand the question.
- Don't interrupt the interviewer.
- Ask your own questions.
Job search in France
There are various resources that you should use to carry out the job search in France:
- Online job sites: Eures and Emplois Verts are two great websites that will help you find job vacancies in France.
- Another successful way to find work in France is through speculative or open applications. They show your ambition to achieve.
- Personal contacts are very useful to getting employment in France.
- French newspapers, both national and regional, offer job vacancies.
Immigration to France
To work in France it is necessary to be aware of the immigration requirements to start a new job there legally:
- European Economic Area (EEA) citizens are free to live and work anywhere in France.
- EEA citizens are permitted, but not obliged, to apply for a French residence permit (carte de séjour). The permit is issued within the first six months of your arrival, is valid for five years and can be extended upon proof of employment or sufficient financial resources.
- Contact the French embassy in your current country of residence to apply.
- Additionally, after living in France for five years or more, citizens from the EEA and Switzerland can apply for permanent French residence.
- For more information and to check what conditions and restrictions apply, see European Commission - Free Movement EU Nationals.
If you are not an EEA or Swiss citizen then you must do the following:
- Get a job offer in France.
- Obtain a French work permit.
- Obtain a visa de long séjour.
- Go to France.
- Apply for a French residence permit carte de séjour.
If you are hired by a French company, the company will do the paperwork for your work permit. You must first demonstrate that a French person could not do the job you are being imported to do.
Other ways to work legally in France
- Student visa - If you are accepted to a school in France, your chosen school will help you to obtain a student visa. Student visas allow you to apply for temporary work permits, which give you the right to work for a limited number of hours per week. One common student job in France is as an au pair.
- Marry a French citizen - marriage will facilitate your efforts to obtain French citizenship, but you will still need to apply for a carte de séjour.
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