What Is It Like To Work In France? (With Tips To Find A Job)

Updated 23 March 2023

Due to its large economy, France is a top destination for those looking to work overseas. The country offers numerous employee-friendly benefits like a healthy work-life balance, flexible hours, social security, insurance and high average salaries. Knowing more about the employment opportunities available for international candidates can help you decide whether relocating to France is a suitable career path. In this article, we discuss work in France, review the working hours, explore skill shortages, discover language and work permit requirements and share tips to improve your chances of finding a job there.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

What Is It Like To Work In France?

If you want to work in France, knowing more about the business environment and professional culture can help you interact and engage appropriately with your colleagues, managers and senior executives. While the organisational culture differs based on the company and industry, workplaces in France are generally quite formal. French offices tend to be hierarchical and it is common for senior managers and executives to make the final decisions. As a result, meetings are often planned well in advance and typically have a clear agenda and purpose.

France has some of the highest levels of employee benefits, such as:

  • Statutory benefits: These are mandatory benefits that all employers offer. This includes medical coverage, life insurance, work injury insurance, pension, medical examinations, profit sharing and termination indemnities.

  • Non-mandatory benefits: These are extra incentives that the employer offers to attract qualified candidates. It can include meal vouchers, public transportation reimbursement, paid relocation, supplementary health insurance, stock options, training, work-from-home options, gym memberships, flexible working hours, cash bonuses, additional days off, additional parental leave, visa sponsorship and supplementary pension.

Related: Job Opportunities After Learning The French Language In India

Working Hours In France

Most employees work 35 hours per week, divided into seven-hour days, five days a week. A typical working day is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a long unpaid lunch break in between. The actual working time varies based on the company and employment contract. In 2017, French lawmakers introduced the right to disconnect, preventing companies with over 50 employees from sending emails or contacting employees during off hours.

Employees are entitled to a minimum of five weeks of annual vacation. Depending on their profession and seniority, employees can get a yearly break of up to 10 weeks. This is in addition to the 11 public holidays available to all employees. The French labour code does not permit employees to work more than 10 hours per day or 44 hours per week unless mentioned otherwise in the agreement. When employees work beyond the legal 35 hours per week, companies offer a reduced working time of up to two days monthly to compensate for the extra hours.

Related: 10 Tips For Working Effectively And Improving Productivity

Skill Shortages

France has identified a list of mismatched priority occupations with labour surplus or shortage. Shortage occupations have limited suitable candidates and employers often find it challenging to fill these positions. In contrast, surplus occupations have plenty of qualified candidates but low demand. Here are a few fields that have a shortage of skilled candidates:

  • Engineering

  • Finance

  • Medical and allied sectors

  • Information and communication technology

  • Legal

Related: How To Make A Career Change To A Software Engineer Role

Language Requirements

While it is possible to develop a career in France knowing only English, taking the time to learn the basics of French can help you integrate within the community and develop positive relationships with your colleagues. You can try conversing in French at the workplace and in other day-to-day conversations to develop your fluency and demonstrate your willingness to learn. The French Ministry of National Education, in partnership with France Education International, offers a wide range of certificates, such as:

  • Initial diploma in French language (DILF)

  • Diploma in advanced French language studies (DALF)

  • French knowledge test (TCF)

  • Diploma in French language studies (DELF)

These diplomas test and certify the competency of candidates in French. These certificates are valid for life and help validate French skills on your resume and workplace.

Related: 5 French Language Certifications (With Helpful Tips)

Recognition Of Indian Educational Qualifications In France

The Indian government and its French counterpart have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate mutual recognition of academic qualifications. This is an excellent initiative for those looking for jobs in France, as it makes it easier to explain Indian qualifications to prospective employers. As per the MoU, the following Indian educational qualifications are recognised in France:

  • All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE) from CBSE, ICSE and state boards is similar to the French baccalaureate

  • Bachelor's degree is equivalent to a university-level licence qualification

  • Master's degree from a recognised Indian university is equivalent to master's level qualifications in France

  • PhD is equivalent to a doctorate

While French employers recognise most Indian qualifications, degrees like medicine, law and other professions regulated by a professional body are not accepted. Those in medical and legal professions require prior authorisation and they complete exams and obtain the necessary licences to practise in their fields in France.

Related: Top In-Demand Skills To Develop For Career Advancement

Types Of Work Visas In France

All non-European Union citizens require a work visa to engage in commercial activities in France. There are four main types of work visas for Indians in France, including:

  • Short-stay work visa: Valid for up to 90 days, this visa is suitable for general short-term employees such as contractors travelling to France for a specific project or business meeting. It cannot be renewed after the initial duration.

  • Temporary work visa: This is valid for six months to one year. It is suitable for employees on contractual or seasonal jobs like fashion models, creative photographers, language teachers, teaching assistants and employees transferred to the French branch of an international company.

  • Long-stay work visa: These visas are valid from one year to four years, depending on the profession and job. It is usually issued to medical professionals, senior management employees, au pairs, highly-skilled employees for in-demand occupations, academicians and other permanent employees.

  • Talent passport: This is a special work visa provided to highly-skilled professionals or entrepreneurs whose skills directly contribute to the French economy. It is valid for four years and the visa holder can bring their spouse and dependent children.

Related: Writing An International Resume Format (With Template)

Tips For Securing A Job In France

Here are a few tips to improve your chances of securing a lucrative work opportunity in France:

  • Learn French. Knowing the language can increase your employment opportunities, as most employers expect employees to have at least basic conversational French knowledge. Joining a French course or practising the language using mobile apps can help build competency.

  • Create a French CV. You can translate your resume into French or add French equivalents for job titles. For example, managers are referred to as directrice or directeur in French.

  • Mention your French competency on the resume. This helps the recruiter know your language proficiency and can increase your chances of receiving a call to interview.

  • Write a letter of motivation. It is common in France to send a letter of motivation and a CV. Also known as the application letter, this document highlights your skills and qualifications essential for succeeding in the role.

  • Consider the location of employment. France is a large country with several towns and cities that offer emerging work opportunities. Being adaptable to relocate to a region with vacancies or one aligned with your industry can improve your chances of receiving a job offer.

  • Read French news sites. Reading news about France can help you stay updated with the country's latest hiring and recruitment trends. You can also follow French multinational companies' websites and social media channels to track vacancies open to international candidates.

  • Monitor your digital reputation. Recruiters often conduct a preliminary search about potential candidates online to check if they have posted any public information that does not align with the company's values. A positive digital presence can work to your advantage during the job search.

  • Attend job fairs. French recruiters and international companies sometimes conduct in-person job fairs in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Ensure you carry multiple copies of your CV and letter of motivation to distribute to potential recruiters.

  • Build your professional network. Attending industry-related events like conferences and seminars can help you build rapport with others in your field. A diverse professional network can work to your advantage when looking for references to share with potential employers.

  • Be flexible. Unless you are moving to France as part of a transfer within your current company, chances are that the employer might offer you roles slightly lower than the last position you held. Being flexible and accepting the offered position can help you gain entry into France, understand the French way of working and move on to more senior roles as you gain experience.

  • Consider an internship. If you are an entry-level candidate, consider accepting an internship to gain practical experience in the French working style. Completing internships in your field can improve your chances of securing roles in French companies or multinationals in France.

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