With 64.1 million people, one of the world’s largest economies, and a foremost power in the European landscape, France can be a natural market for prospective employers to tap into; though the extensive labour laws & regulations, and relative low English proficiency compared to neighboring countries can pose some obstacles to new-entrants to the French labour market. This article lays out some of the key information to bear in mind when considering to grow your operations in France.
The market at a glance
Size of workforce
Those who work for pay or profit for at least one hour a week, or who have a job but are temporarily not at work due to illness, leave or industrial action
The ratio of the employed to the working age
% of population (25-44 yrs old) with tertiary graduation rates
Cost of labour
English proficiency index (world)
The world's largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills
English proficiency index (Europe)
Europe's largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills
Finding the right talent
All companies must report job vacancies to the Pôle Emploi - government employment service - but beyond that there are no strict rules around recruitment in France.
Local networking and personal connections are still the most common avenues to employment in France, but job boards and LinkedIn are also used. Indeed.fr, Monster.fr, and The Local fr are great resources for posting English-speaking roles, and there are a host of other sites by industry for more specific positions.
Things to keep in mind
There are several points to keep in mind when setting up operations in France. Of paramount importance is recognizing and understanding the French Labour Code, which affords French workers a wide range of rights. The Code du Travail, first started in 1896, is over 3,000 pages of rules and laws that govern the French labour market - outlining everything from work wages to regulating temporary work to full-time work hours and holidays. The regulations are enforced by local work inspectors (inspecteur du travail) and the Direction Départmentale du Travail et de l’Emploi et de la Formation Professionnelle (DDTEFP), and the Code applies to foreign workers in France the same as it does to French citizens.
Additionally, it is considered standard for French companies to ask for hand-written application letters which explain one’s recent work and why one would be a fit for the role, so do not be surprised to receive a number of hand-written letters when recruiting.
Finally, even if a job is primarily conducted in a language other than French, there is an expectation to have a solid command of the French language prior to employment, or to be enrolled in language courses at time of employment.