Updated last year

For several years, France has suffered from severe unemployment and this has impacted the economic vitality of the country as well as the opportunities available to foreigners. Unless you hail from the European Union or have documentation allowing you to work in France, it is quite difficult to find employment in unskilled or semi-skilled sectors. This, however, is not true for highly skilled individuals, and France yearns for international, multi-lingual staff.

The French labour market

As far as expatriates are concerned, the French labour market can basically be broken down into two segments: highly skilled individuals, and less skilled employees. The high unemployment rates frequently mentioned in the media mostly applies to the less qualified segments and, strikingly, to the youth. Your chances of securing a job in France are therefore more realistic if you hold highly reputable academic qualifications coupled with international experience.

The international footprint of French companies is such that they require a workforce which has knowledge of international business practices as well as international languages. Thus, if you speak other languages on top of French, you can drastically increase your chances of securing employment in France. In terms of cities, Paris will often seem to be a natural choice for expatriates, however in certain industries, hubs and hotspots are sometimes far beyond the city of lights. For example, aviation professionals are in high demand in Toulouse as well as Bordeaux.

Promising fields

Some of the most promising fields in France include the automotive industry (including the automotive spare parts industry), digital technologies, information and communication technologies, trade and commerce, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, and professional services to name a few. In general, qualifications from countries other than France are recognised relatively easily, especially if you have studied at a university of international repute.

Nationals from the European Union, the European Economic Area, Switzerland and Croatia

You can stay for 6 months in France to look for a job in the country. This period can also be extended if you actively pursue your job search and have a realistic chance of securing employment in the country based on the qualifications you hold. Otherwise, you will be required to leave the country at the end of the six month period.

It is highly advisable that you register at the public employment agency (Pole Emploi) nearest to your place of residence. Once registered, you will be eligible for an unemployment allowance if you have worked in the EEA previously, based on the periods of unemployment insurance accumulated through your previous jobs. Note that you must have started a professional activity in France before your employment history in the EEA can be considered. Pole Emploi also provides a list of vacancies as well as support to jobseekers.

Nationals from other countries

Foreign nationals from outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland need to apply for a work permit, as well as a resident permit to work in France. For further details on the specific paperwork required, please consult our section on visas.

Companies seeking to recruit foreign nationals need to prove that the prospective candidate is ideal for the specific position being offered and that the skills required were not available in the European Economic Area. In general, the process for securing the necessary paperwork and authorisations is quite long, and be ready to wait many months before the process is finalised. In general, work permits are delivered on a yearly basis, and if you are employed on a long-stay visa, you will be required to attend integration sessions held by the French Immigration and Integration Office (OFII).

If you do not wish to work in a company, you may as well become a migrant worker (to be able to travel regularly from and to France), au pair, or even opt for the tourism sector or language teaching. However, bear in mind that the process of securing paperwork for these professions can be particularly stringent.

 Useful links:

Pôle Emploi www.pole-emploi.fr
Monster France www6.monster.fr
APEC – Emploi cadres
The Local

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.