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The prospect of working in France holds great appeal for expats, particularly in a post-Covid world. While many of Europe's largest economies, including Germany, Spain and Italy, have declined considerably, France (the second-largest economy in Europe) has shown surprising resilience and positive numbers in spite of the pandemic. As such, there are still opportunities for talented individuals to find a job in France.
Expats are often attracted by the perks of the French working world, which include a 35-hour workweek, plenty of holiday time and early retirement. Finding a job in France is notoriously difficult for foreigners, though. Most expats who manage to find one do so through intra-company transfers or opportunities within large multinational organisations.
Job market in France
Expats may be disappointed to discover that most of the jobs available in France aren't in the celebrated south or even bustling, romantic Paris. The top hiring regions are actually Auvergne, Bretagne, Limousin and Pays de la Loire. Expats willing to move to these less attractive destinations will find many opportunities, even though the area surrounding Paris claims one of the continent’s wealthiest and largest regional economies.
Salaries in France are on the lower end of the spectrum compared to other areas of the world that attract expats, such as the US, the Middle East and Asia.
Finding a job in France
Expats looking for employment in France will benefit greatly from speaking French, as fluency is a requirement for most positions. Expats should note that education levels are given priority over experience and accomplishments and that the French generally prefer to do business with acquaintances and friends. Many people find employment through networking and alumni organisations, so fostering connections is a crucial part of the job hunt.
The most prominent industry sectors in France are hospitality, telecommunications, aerospace and defence, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, construction and civil engineering, chemicals, automobile production and banking. Expats looking to work in France will need a valid work permit.
Work culture in France
Expats working in France will find that French business culture tends to be hierarchical and reserved, with little socialising across hierarchical lines. In addition to this, appearances are important to the French. Expats would do well to invest a little bit extra in their work wardrobe.
Those working in France will also need to take a flexible approach to time and punctuality. Work culture in France is heavily influenced by bureaucracy, and as such, simple tasks may take longer than expected. That said, expats in France will also enjoy a 35-hour workweek as well as substantial holiday time throughout the year. This free time will allow expats to make the most of working in the country and embrace the French way of life.
►Learn more about business etiquette in Doing Business in France
"As a teacher, I found my current job by researching schools and submitting my resume before they were advertising on job boards. The hustle is real. I know many teachers who hold multiple jobs, or work with speaking agencies (online or in-person) as their in-between while searching for more permanent work." Read more about Canadian expat Dorian's experiences in Paris.
Are you an expat living in France?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to France. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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