You might think that searching for a job in France isn’t too dissimilar to looking for employment in the UK. However, there are some significant differences, not only in terms of language and culture but also in the resources available and the type of employment contracts that you may be offered.
In general, the first port of call will be to register with the local office of the national network Pole Emploi. The service is run by the unemployment agency and their job is to get the candidate a contact as soon as possible so once you register you’re only allowed to refuse a ‘reasonable job’ twice before your profile is deactivated and you have to start the registration from scratch.
The www.emploistore.fr website has lots of information and resources available to job seekers, including current job openings. Pole Emploi can also provide information on any tax or social charges breaks available to eligible candidates.
In French job descriptions you’re likely to find CDD, CDI and other acronyms, which refer to the type of contract. A Contrat à durée determinée (CDD) is a fixed-term contract used by employers when they need to replace an absence, for seasonal work or any other short-term need. There are several versions of the CDD, the most common is for a period of 18 months and renewable twice. The Contrat à durée Indéterminée (CDI) is a permanent employment contract which usually includes a trial period. French workers are generally more protected and have stronger unions than in other coutries and it is not easy for an employer to rescind a CDI, so most jobs will start off with a CDD and then work up to the holy grail of the CDI. Most jobs in France are based on a 35 hour work week. In 2003 legislation was amended to allow employees to work up to 39 hours a week (or sometimes more) for an agreed extra remuneration.
In France, a CV is a little more formal than in the UK or US, and is expected to be impeccable. In some cases, depending of the job, you can present a CV in English, although the cover letter (lettre de motivation) is alway likely to be in French and possess a formal ‘business’ format – examples can be found online.
When it comes to job interviews, it’s best to err on the conservative side. That means perhaps covering any tattoos, tying up long hair and picking your attire to reflect a professional attitude. Alway first address your potential employer with the formal ‘vous’, unless they ask you to use the familiar ‘tu’.
For odd jobs you can use the handy system of the Chéque Emploi Service Universel (CESU), which is designed to simplify the formalities for private individuals to hire cleaning of gardening help, tutors or workers for other jobs related to personal services or the home. The CESU simplifies this type of employment by deducting by Direct Debit the relevant social charges from the employer’s bank account,in proportion to the amount paid.