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Top 10 Recruitment Sectors for Expats in France

Top 10 Recruitment Sectors for Expats in France

Finding employment, whether in your home country or elsewhere, can be a challenge. 

Availability depends on the state of the economy, the rate of unemployment and jobs in the system, and it can seem as though there are hundreds of applicants for just one position, no matter the pay grade.

It’s always a good idea to get an idea of what your target city or country is all about before you move there or try to find a job. What sectors are the most vibrant, the best performing? 

France has a thriving economic sector and Paris in particular has one of the highest GDPs in the world. France’s major industries include shipbuilding, telecommunications, civil engineering, textiles and automobile production. 

According to Wikipedia, “France experienced stagnant growth between 2012 and 2014, with the economy expanding by 0.8% in 2013 and 0.2% in 2014, though growth picked up in 2015 with a growth of 1.2% and a forecasted growth of 1.5% for 2016, and 1.7% for 2017.

For 2015, France ranked 4th in the Fortune Global 500, with over 30 of the biggest companies in the world. AXA, Air France and L’Oréal are among the largest (if not the largest) companies in their field. 

Also for 2015, growth was found in many sectors, including IT, banking, research and development. 

According to a source, “the major industries in France are aerospace, motor industry, pharmaceutical, industrial machinery, metallurgy, electronics, textiles, food and drink, and tourism. According to a report by Hays, in 2015 engineering, research and development (R&D), IT and banking were the sectors exhibiting the most employment growth. Around three quarters of the population are employed in services.


If you have management skills, there is demand in sales, construction, engineering, business marketing, industrial sectors, IT, to name a few areas for consideration. These skills seem to be particularly needed outside of major French cities, too, so you don’t have to limit yourself to job-hunting in Paris, for example.

Also consider that, with the recent terror attacks in France and the current state of emergency, tensions are high and there is increased demand for personnel in all areas pertaining to national and private security.

Robust growth demands an adequate workforce.  Given the growth trends over the past year, it is likely that an expat would be able to find job opportunities in the following ten areas: 

1. Engineering / R&D

Merriam-Webster defines engineering as “the work of designing and creating large structures (such as roads and bridges) or new products or systems by using scientific methods.” 

One source states, “Research and Development (R&D), also known as research and technical (or technological) development (RTD) is a general term for activities in connection with corporate or governmental innovation. Research and development is a component of Innovation and is situated at the front end of the Innovation life cycle. Innovation builds on R&D and includes commercialization phases.

Engineering and R&D tend to go hand in hand.

2. IT

According to Wikipedia, information technology (IT) is the application of computers and internet to store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data, or information, often in the context of a business or other enterprise. The term is commonly used as a synonym for computers and computer networks, but can be applied to other areas, too. Industries such as computer hardware, software, electronics, semiconductors, internet, telecom equipment, engineering, healthcare, e-commerce, and computer services are often associated with IT. 

This is one of the top recruiting sectors in France.

3. Banking

We all use banks for one reason or another, though I wish I could find a way to just “wish” more money into my account, but I digress... Banking is varied and can include personal, private, corporate, investment, insurance, consumer finance, transactions, trading: foreign exchange, commodities, equities, future, and money market trading. There are a lot of Jobs for provision in this sector in France.

4. Civil jobs

Working in this sector means you have a job with a government agency. Health, employment, social services, social security are among the areas where you would be employed. The French education ministry recruited massively in the last past few years. This trend might, however, change with a new government after the upcoming presidential elections.

5. Tourism

The business of providing services and activities for tourists, whether it be tours, information about events and places to visit, working at a hotel, restaurant or business in an area well-trafficked by visitors. There are plenty of opportunities in this sector, especially in Paris (still the most visited city in the world despite recent terror attacks)

6. National & Private Security

To give a brief definition, national security has to do with a government protecting its citizens against threats or a national crisis that may arise, including terroristic concerns. Together with private security, the national security sector is recruiting.

7. Caregiving

This involves taking care of others, one-on-one. It could be children, very ill individuals, the elderly, to name a few areas. Such a person might be involved in home care, or doing daily visits. They may also work in a hospice environment for the terminally ill.

8. Retail 

The retail sector involves the sale of goods or commodities in small quantities directly to consumers. Think bookstores, patisseries, grocery stores, little shops on the corner…you get the idea.

9. Agriculture

The French agricultural sector is all about producing crops, raising livestock and all involved in that process. You could work in the fields, getting your hands dirty, or work in a lab to make things better for those in the fields.

10. English language teaching

ESL stands for English as a second language. Many businesses and students in France are interested in learning English because it opens up lots of opportunities for growth, and it has global appeal. Many expats choose this option since being an ESL teacher is one of the easiest ways to find work in France (without having to know the local language).


Take note, however, that a French citizen will be looked at first for the open position before an expat. France wants to make sure the locals have access to the job first, and that positions are being given to someone who is French and qualified. If there is no such person, then an expat can come into play.

One good way, as an expat, to get a job in France, no matter the sector, is to go through a company that has a branch in the country. Perhaps you work for a firm in your hometown that has a presence in France. Look into how to get a transfer, perhaps. Now, you won’t be the only one to have thought of this, and the lines are probably long to get on that coveted list, but if you do, then it’s up to the company to take care of your paperwork, and all you have to do is get your visa and other immigration paperwork in line.

If you’re already in France and just starting your job search, you can find assistance with the Pôle Emploi

The website is  There are branches everywhere as well as video kiosks. The agency specializes in matching job seekers with job offers in their field of interest. To register, you must be actively seeking work and be a legal resident (proof is required). 

Pôle Emploi can help you learn about what customs and living conditions are like in many different countries. They can help you put together your CV, and even provide French language training to interested applicants. 

The site is in French, so you may need to get someone to help you navigate it.

It almost goes without saying that being able to speak the local language will go a long way to helping you find that coveted opportunity, unless the position you are seeking is in a multinational company that needs your English-speaking skills, or something like that. 

Being part of an expat community can help you build your skills, too. There are events, classes and other opportunities you can look into in order to improve your French. 

Also, perhaps getting with an ESL job, or working in the tourist industry would be a place to start. The interest worldwide in learning English has skyrocketed, and there will always be an opportunity to help others master that language. It would at least give you the time to learn French while you search for the job you really want. And if you already enjoy what you do, then kudos to you!

Other things to consider while job-hunting are the terms you’ll encounter. You should know what the French deem full time, part time and temporary jobs. Find out what a contract involves, the hours you are expected work, taxes, dress code. Remember, you are competing against locals who grew up here and speak the language.

As for your résumé or CV, here is some information from another blog post we shared with you: It needs to be in French, and non-European professionals with special skills may need a titre de séjour. Also, in an interview, it’s “vous” not “tu” if you’re a French speaker. 

Remember earlier when we mentioned being a part of an expat group? Networking can go a long way to helping you find work. You can start with the contacts you make at expat events. Ask other long-term expats what they’ve done, or how they’ve found jobs. Use the forum, classifieds on the group’s website and read blogs—you never know what you will find.

If you don’t work for a company with a branch in France through which you can find employment there, or are not already in the country with a thriving network as a resource and access to forums, classifieds and Pôle Emploi, start the job hunt from where you are in your home country. Check job boards, check out expat communities online and join one or two. 

They are very welcoming and informative. 

Other websites to consider:;;;;; or 

A few more tips from Rachael HELPS.

You can even start your own business, if you like, though that has its own challenges.

One final note:

Make sure your paperwork is in order. You won’t get anywhere fast unless you can show proof of your visa status and residency

Don’t forget to apply for your carte vitale, either. It’s required of all residents in France, citizen or not.

Is it worth all the effort, you may wonder? Well, think of what you’ll experience and have access to while working in France.  A chance to learn the language, enjoy the culture and sights, eat great food, make wonderful friends and discover that adventurous part of your personality that you never knew existed. You’ll meet others just like you, intrepid souls leaving what was comfortable and known to venture into something entirely new.

Whatever your reason for wanting to work in France, living there is an experience not to be missed or taken for granted. If you have the chance to do so, make the most of it. 

Over to you!

Did you enjoy this article? 

Do you know of any other sectors that are recruiting in France? 

Feel free to leave your comments below, and thanks for reading!


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Last modified onTuesday, 25 October 2016 08:02
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