En cherchant du boulot…

Over the last year or so I have always heard the same things regarding employment in France. It is mostly a negative outlook that you could say is bordering on pessimism. But sadly much is true. 

When I say employment, I mean not only expats like myself but also French people. Generally it is already difficult for the “natives” to find work – but then of course it means it’s then harder for “us”
What does this mean for expats?

Well in general it means that a French employer will employ someone French first – even if they are looking for someone who can speak English. But for everyone it also means that much of the work available earns the SMIC – which although is better than nothing, it is not a good wage level for the future. Oh and if you find a job you are generally lucky if it’s a contract CDI.

Now who have I heard this all from? Well, French friends, other expats on the net, my ex French teacher, the woman who conducted my bilan de competance last Autumn and from my own experiences. I’d say that from all this evidence finding work is a problem, and also sealed by the fact many French people depart to the UK to find work!

There are also so many wannabe expats who move to France and walk straight into a closed door. They come to France expecting to jump straight into a job that they’ll like and make a life in France.

Well that’s OK if you want to work in restaurants, on building sites or become a cleaner. These are the work areas much in demand in France, precisely because no one wants to work in these areas.
It all depends what you are expecting to do.

But another major problem for everyone, is that if you want to stay in France, wherever you are from – to be able to work in France you need to prove you can support yourself while living here. So coming here with nothing and expecting to get a job within the 3 months limit you can stay in France legally, really isn’t realistic. Especially if you cannot speak an acceptable level of French.

Like many I live with someone who is French and who has had to do a lot to support me because I chose to drop everything in the UK and move here to live with her. I’m quick to realise that I am very grateful. But I’m also quick to realise that if we are in the real world, the only way that someone can truly move to France is if either they have a job ready to move into, or if they fall in love with someone French and chose to move here to live with them. Even the latter is far from easy and can put an extreme pressure on a relationship. I am lucky because Thumpah has been wonderful in our 10 years together.

However, I am still very quick to take a negative attitude to all those wannabes who think they can move to France under their own steam, with very little money, not being able to speak French and realise some romantic dream they had from a holiday here. I’m sorry, but I’ll never change there despite people saying that it’s not the same for everyone and that everyone is different. Based on what I know in my 9 years here I will always try and discourage such people from moving to France, wherever they are coming from (and I know it’s a lot more difficult for people from outside the EU).

The sad fact is that France has it’s own way of doing things – their system is still very stubborn and employers are very much on the borderline, purely because they have so many unemployed people out there to chose from.

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Technorati Tags: job, work, employment, boulot, emploi, travailler, France, Paris, expats, french, SMIC

0 Replies to “En cherchant du boulot…”

  1. John, Great blog, but I want to know about starting a business in France. What types, ie services, labor, etc. Costs associated?

    Merci, Denise

  2. Hi Denise,

    Most of the English speakers I’ve known, who have their own small business have them registered in London. This is because the UK is more “user friendly” to small businesses than France is. Over here the taxes and small business charges are just too expensive – you really need a lump sum to start up.

    I’ve not really looked into it all in great detail because I’m just “odd jobbing” doing the occasional translation project for the moment.

    But if I were to start a small business I would be inclined to register it in the UK, and pay my taxes over there.


  3. i was wondering contract work for IT. how are the opportunities for Oracle Professionals?

    Just figuratively speaking

  4. Hi John, thank you for addressing reality vs. dreams. Could you clarify also about the 3 months stay and about work permits? It is my impression that EU citizens do not have a limit on how long they can stay in another EU country. Also, most EU citizens have the right to work in other EU countries. So, their challenge, if I understand it correctly, is to find a job. While Americans and citizens from outside the EU are the ones who can only stay three months and do not even have a work permit to boot; what can they do?

  5. Hi Aniela,

    When I first moved to France in 1997 this was the case for EU citizens. We had the right to stay in France for 3 months while we sought a Carte de Séjour. Perhaps this has changed now, because there was talk about abolishing the C de S for EU citizens.
    However, that said – as for non EU citizens: you need to provide proof that you will not be a “drain” on the French economy by living in France. That’s to say, you have a pemanent address of residence, you have financial backing or a job to come to or that you are a student.

    I was one of those that arrived in France without a job, because I had left my employment in the UK to move here and live with my French girlfriend. I wouldn’t advise everyone to do that by themselves, from the EU or not.
    Even now that would put yourself in a very precarious situation. Luckily I had my girlfriend to help.

    As it stands – non EU citizens have to have a Carte de Séjour, and to my knowledge there is still that 3 month stay limit for anyone without one.

    Having a job to come to helps (company transfer from an English or American company) because the company you intend to work for will usually do the C de S paperwork for you and provide you with temporary place to live.

    So unless you come to live in France illegally there isn’t really a way round it.

    The main snag about getting the C de S is the timescale. It varies from region to region in France. You might end up waiting longer for the applicaton to be processed in one region than in another. Something that you will not know until you apply, obviously.

    It goes without saying that if you know where you are planning to live in France and have the money to live off while here and looking for a job, it’s usually best to try and contact either the French Chamber of Commerce in the country you reside (UK or US), or write directly to the Prefecture in France (in French) where your application is to be processed BEFORE leaving the US/UK; to ask how the process of obtaining a C de S will work for you.

    Arriving in France without employment expecting everything to be handed to you on a plate is not a reality. Even for EU citizens.



  6. I am going to retire in France with a US retirement check and a military retirement check. Total approx 5.ooo dollars a month .It that enough?.

  7. Great Blog. Yes, it is difficult, especially the language. I’m in Chicago, Illinois trying to learn the French language unsuccessfully. What would you recommend, private tutor, Berlitz,…..I’ve done the college route. merci, rose

  8. I would suggest you take classes in a group so you can interact with other people. Unfortunately there is no magic formula for learning French as it varies from person to person. But what you do need is lots of perseverance.

    I’ve been living in France for 9 years now and there’s still stuff I do not know. You are learning all the time.

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