Finding work in Paris for English speaking graduates is in many ways different than it it is for French speaking talents. Because of the rich, beautiful and strong culture of France breathing in its population, businesses in the country are not untouched with the uniqueness it brings about. In this post, we will look into the employment scenario of France in general, the official requirements based on citizenship and prospects in different industries and roles.
Employment scenario in France
While other major economies like the UK and Germany have shown an improvement in the unemployment rate since 2010, France has more or less remained unchanged. France is nevertheless consistently one of the top three economies of Europe. Its GDP (nominal) stands third in the continent. Many prominent French firms are one of the biggest in the world in their respective industries.
From the perspective of graduates, this article will focus on full-time jobs, internships or trainee-ships relevant to various degree programs.
Given the country's attractive culture, economic foothold and membership of the European Union, the job market sees the French, the other EU nationals and non-EU nationals compete in their best capacity.
Officially, the working hours in France are supposed to be 35 per week. However, working beyond 35 hours is to be considered for overtime payment (not applicable for managers).
Business activities and hence the workforce of France is concentrated in the capital region - the Paris Area also known as Île-de-France. It is Europe's largest purpose built Business District. 30 of the Fortune 500 companies are Headquartered at La Defense. Undoubtedly, it is the center of economic activity in France.
Visa Sponsorship Requirements for full-time contracts for Students
Students willing to work in France can be classified into two broad categories - EU/EEA & Swiss citizens and all other nationalities. The former does not require a sponsorship to work in France. In the case of the other nationalities, mandatory internships (required to be validated by the educational institution in order to complete the degree program) do not require sponsorship by the hiring company. The institute, in this case, provides a document proving that the internship would be a mandatory part of the program that the candidate is enrolled in. In other long term contracts (CDI and CDD in France), the company must sponsor the Visa.
Work in France - Role of Language
Of course, importance of knowing French depends on the clientele of a business. Companies with significant international dealings will be more open to English speaking candidates. French B2B companies are likely to require French as well as English because a typical French Business client will most probably be served better in French.
However, the importance of French fluency also depends on particular job positions. Therefore, before applying to work in Paris or the rest of France, deciding a target job profile in advance is even more important for English speakers.
Communications is a broad term. Corporate communication, management communication, internal communication and strategic communication are some classifications. In general, these seem to have a considerable percentage of English jobs and internships in France; specially internal communication. Speaking of internal operations, companies with the motive to hire the best international talents create a work environment which is internally less dependent on the local language, irrespective of their external aspects. Smaller companies are more likely to do so. Therefore, English speaking candidates for internal operations and control are significantly likely to be hired.
Digital Marketing has been evolving to become more technical and beyond advertisement banners and digital content. As a result, non-French speaking candidates with a skill set at par the ongoing digital marketing trends are often welcomed. In the field of Data Analysis also the employment scenario for non-French speaking candidates is optimistic. English speakers talented in working with numbers are likely to be welcomed by companies to work in Paris or anywhere in France.
One of the highest acceptance to English speakers willing to work in Paris is in IT and software. The languages that matter more in this field are neither English nor French, but SQL, Java, Php and so on. Surprisingly, there are significant openings for non French speaking candidates in the field of sales. However, these are more concentrated in internships as is the case with most other fields.
In consulting, chances are extremely slim that things will work without French proficiency. In the education sector as well, the knowledge of French stays important, which is comprehensible. Similarly, since the French legal system works in the local language, French proficiency is required to understand and work with complex legal documents. Audit and accounting, though dominated by numbers, are yet to open considerably to English speakers. Understandably, Public Relations and Customer Service also require French proficiency.
Candidates in Human resources are often expected to be fluent in both French and English. This is so that they are able to recruit people for different job profiles that have been discussed so far. A major takeaway is that majority of jobs and internships for English speakers in France are in the Paris region. This capital region of France, known as Île-de-France consists of Paris and nearby communes, including the Business District La Défense.
Profile Building - Work in Paris or the rest of France
Now that you have an overview of the options available to you, building a focused profile is easier. Therefore, the sooner the options are explored, the better. Profile building does not happen in a couple of months. A good strategy to be ready to get your foot in the door on time will take at least around 2 years.
The timeline of your professional endeavors should be like a trail leading where you want it to. Acquisition of relevant skills, experiences and proven achievements & dedication over time are the ingredients of a good profile.
If this was not the case for you, the remaining part of the candidature has to be handled with double the efforts, and the results will be comparatively humble.
Talent with no interview calls
A very large number of students and recent graduates ask us -
I have a good GPA
I have proved myself in extracurricular
I even have some work experience
Why do I not even get a call for an interview?
We solve it by eliminating the extraneous factors. The recruiter has never met the candidate in person before the interview. So, the rejections could not be based on the candidate's personality or communication skills. The recruiter has also not tested the candidate's problem solving skills, nor has an idea about the candidate's fit in the respective team.
The only abstract information the recruiter has about a candidate before an interview is via the documents submitted by the candidate. At most, by going to professional/social networking sites and looking for the candidate. Usually, the candidate has already provided the link to their professional network profile. Unless something with their social media account is clearly wrong, the recruiter does not care about the details of the candidate's personal life. In fact, the candidate has the right to separate her or his professional life from their personal without the need to hide anything.
Therefore, the problem lies in the submitted documents if you are getting no interviews despite a good profile.
The employment scenario in France is highly competitive. There are a number of professionals and graduates willing to work in Paris, or anywhere in France. As a result, the required quality of application documents is higher than many countries. So, working without compromise on the application documents is essential.
A Strong Portfolio to Work in Paris
Output of Profile Building
- Good CV
- Good Motivation Letter
- Good Reference Letter
Output of Profile & Personality Building
- Good interview
While it looks similar to applying for jobs in other countries, the structure and content of these documents have country specific guidelines.
Creating a professional CV takes time and expertise. Candidates willing to work in Paris or anywhere else in France have to create a French CV. It does not mean that the contents of the CV have to be in French, but the layout and the content must follow the French CV guidelines. What information is relevant, what should be the length of the CV etc. are some questions that must be consulted with your educational institute or a professional in your network.