06 October 2013

Becoming A Working French Lady - Part 2

If you missed part 1 check it out here.

If you already have the right to work in France:

(you lucky duck)

Good news! You have a much wider range of job options than the average American. Bad news: Your diploma's probably won't count for much here, unless you were smart and majored in something like computer science or engineering.

Note: I am by no means an expert on this subject. I'm just sharing some anecdotal advice, but I sure as heck had a hard time finding any while I was job searching. There are many, many job finding methods that I'm not covering here. Furthermore, I'm not going into much detail about any of them. I'm just sharing the methods I used and hope to give a few readers an idea of different ways to start your search if you feel like you've hit a dead end. 

I was turned down for a lot of jobs because I was American. That's not just how I was interpreting things. People would come right out and say it. They were afraid that I couldn't really work in France. "But I have a carte de séjour and am married to a French man!" This was true and gave me the right to work, but a lot of people weren't interested enough to verify it.

After a few months, I started aiming much lower. The only job requirement would be "high school diploma", and they would call me back to let me know that because I got my high school diploma in America, they weren't sure it would be as valid as a French high school diploma. I wasn't qualified enough for the position, despite having a four year bachelor's degree. I'd even attended French university for year, but all of that made me less qualified than someone who'd only gotten a high school diploma in France.

It was really frustrating, and quite frankly insulting.  Luckily though, as Belinda reminded me, you only need one "Yes". You just need some one who accepts you and your Americaness. After that, things get better.

A few ideas to get you started on your search:

1. Teaching English
If you're a native English speaker and willing to teach English to adults, you can get a job in France - even if you have zero experience. Granted, you might not get paid much unless you get creative with your approach (i.e. open up your own English learning business or work for a really innovative company).

2. Pole Emploi
This is the largest job posting website/organization in France and it's run by the government. People here have really mixed feelings on it - many of them negative. But it's the best resource I've found so far. If nothing else, you can find out what qualifications employers are looking for in a specific post.

3. Use the fact that you speak English to your advantage
Because if you don't, there are many cases where your accent/lack of perfect French might work against you. Try to use your native language as a selling point.

4. Connections
I'm pretty sure that this is the best tried and true method for finding a good job in any country. There is no shame in asking your friends/family if they have any leads for you.

5. Google
Just give up on the whole system, type your ideal job into Google and randomly send out your resume/CV to that company even if their website says they're not hiring. That's how I got my current job.

Moral of the story: Never underestimate the power of dumb luck. 


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I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. If you have any other tips for finding a job while abroad, please, please feel free to share them in the comments! I know that this list just touched the tip of the iceberg.

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