How to find work in France as an English speaker
Living in France is the dream for many people around the world, which is not surprising when you consider all that the country has to offer. City slickers can explore the streets of Paris, visiting world-class museums and shopping in designer boutiques, while those dreaming of a quiet life can stay in the idyllic French countryside, where they can enjoy the beautiful landscape.
However, life isn’t all croissants and coffee. The reality is that most of us have to work for a living, so in order to live in France, we need to be able to work in France. So, how exactly can we do that?
To get a job in France, it will help immensely if you know French; at least enough to communicate on a basic level with colleagues and customers. Before you go, you should get the basics down (“hello”, “please”, “thank you”, “where is the bathroom?”, etc), but you’ll probably find that you pick up a lot while there through immersion in the language and culture.
If you aren’t fluent in French, don’t let that put you off;there are plenty of jobs that don’t require you to know French, you just need to be clever about looking for them.
How to find English speaking jobs in France
You may find that the type of job you had at home is not available to non-French speakers, so seek out other areas of employment that are more suited to English speakers, like bar work, teaching English as a second language, or retail work in tourist areas. This will allow you to earn whilst working on your French, should you wish to go back to your original line of work. Also remember to target seasonal jobs as they are likely to come with fewer required (language) skills.
French-ify your resume
French resumes are more concise than you might be used to,with two pages maximum for senior roles. Many companies also still expect a photograph to be attached. Best practice is a professional picture with a smile.
Look in the right place
When you’re looking through any French joblisting site, narrow down the results with the website’s filter to find those openings that don’t require French. Another good tip is to keep an eye on the LinkedIn page of companies that you like, as that can be a great way find a job opening before everyone else and make an impression on the hiring manager. Joining ex-pat groups on Facebook is also a great place to start, as this gives you direct access to a network of people who have already established themselves in the region you wish to live in.
As a general rule, French businesspeople like to be shown respect, which means a firm handshake and a professional attitude, especially during initial interviews. Getting too friendly too fast will seem rude. Pay attention to using “vous” rather than “tu” to assure you get your interview off on a great start.
Create your own job
If you can’t find a job that you love, then why not create one? You could be your own boss, choose your own hours, and even work from home. You might want to start a hotel that serves as a piece of Blighty in Brittany for other English speakers, become a freelance writer/designer/photographer, or even teach English to French students.
If you’re interested in teaching English in France, but don’t have a teaching qualification, companies like Daily English will accept you as a host family, providing that you have a university degree and children living with you. The idea is that you host a French student for between two days and four weeks during the school break so that they can learn English from interacting with you and your family. One short lesson a day is required, but you can get help to prepare them according to the child’s age and ability.
Keep calm and carry on
While it’s never easy to find a job in a foreign country without speaking the language, especially in a language-oriented culture such as France, it’s not impossible and you can find English speaking jobs in Paris, Lyon, Brittany, or anywhere else in France. So persevere and you will prosper.
Hopefully, this article has given you the tips you need to prepare for your job search in France and you’ll find your dream job soon enough. We wish you the best of luck with your career.