The Complete Anatomy of Pôle Emploi: Understanding The French National Employment Agency

The Complete Anatomy of Pôle Emploi: Understanding The French National Employment Agency

A few days before we got hacked, we had written a few extensive guides about The French Income Tax, The French Healthcare and the must-know Things about Rentals in Paris. This time, I’m excited to welcome you on board for yet another epic journey into the land of Bureaucracy. This time we’ll be talking about the Pôle Emploi;  the French governmental agency that registers unemployed people (expats included), helps them find jobs and provides them with financial aid.

So now you’re in France. You have your apartment, carte vitale, and you’ve made friends with the neighbors and are besties with the owner of the patisserie on your block. Bon! But you’re probably having a hard time finding work or knowing where to look. Sure, you can use online websites such as;;;;; or You can even search classifieds and local newspapers. But that’s not necessarily a guarantee of a job offer, and you’re doing this all by yourself. It’s complicated, yes?

Also, you may not speak the language very well, if at all, and that makes things all the more difficult. No need to despair, however. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Stretch your fingers, open your laptop, and let’s get started.

Please note: This is for informational purposes only. Should you need help with using Pôle Emploi, please go to the local agency for assistance.

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The Pôle Emploi, the French National Job Agency, is designed with job-seekers like yourself in mind. It is a government organization that assists the unemployed with finding jobs and financial assistance. It also helps companies meet their recruitment quota. It was formed out of a merger in 2008 of two other government groups that provided specific services: ANPE (an employment agency) and UNEDIC (social / financial benefits for the jobless).

UNEDIC changed its focus and became an independent organization under a different logo. Its current mission includes:

● Proper enforcement of unemployment insurance benefits.
● Managing the finances of the unemployment insurance fund to guarantee the continuity of unemployment compensation and management autonomy.
● Evaluating social partners in the conduct of their work and their decisions.
● Monitoring and auditing services to ensure compliance and performance for unemployment insurance benefits.

The merger’s aim is to reduce the unemployment rate and improve the efficiency of public services provided to the unemployed.

The main website for Pôle Emploi is  Branches of the agency can be found in pretty much any French city or town. It specializes in helping someone like yourself match up with job offers in your field of interest, and provides advice and services to help you succeed. You will be assigned someone to assist you on your journey to finding employment. To register, you must be actively seeking work and be a legal resident (proof is required).

Pôle Emploi aims to help the chronically unemployed, the young, seniors and those on welfare.

Things to bear in mind when looking for a job.


Whether or not you use Pôle Emploi, here are some important things to consider when job-hunting in France.

  ● Learn the language.
French companies tend to prefer employees who speak the language. Unless you’re applying for an English-language position, this point is non-negotiable. It might be best to take some classes in order to improve your chances, since you’ll be competing against French-born (and speaking) job-seekers. Pôle Emploi can help with this.

  ● Know the terms.
Become familiar with what the French consider full time, part time and temporary jobs. What do contracts entail? What are the hours? What about taxes? Know what you’re getting into. Pôle Emploi can help you understand how such things work and what to expect on the job.

  ● Your CV. It must be in French.
Yes, and you may need a titre de séjour which is designed particularly for non-European professionals who have special skills. If a French company wants to hire you, they will need to file the necessary legal paperwork to sponsor your employment with them, based on your skills and proof of education, as well as residency status. When you finally get an interview, remember it’s “vous” not “tu.” Be respectful and polite with your potential employer. Don’t overdo it. Take your cues from them. Pôle Emploi can give you tips on social customs and what is expected at interviews.
 ● Network. Don’t underestimate the power of networking.
Someone you meet at a bar or an expat event could end up leading you to that perfect job. Get out there and meet more people like yourself and by doing so, widen your chances of finding what you want. Pôle Emploi encourages its applicants to network as much as possible.

 ● Be prepared.
France and bureaucratic red tape tend to go hand in hand, from my experience. Wherever you go, make sure you have copies of your bank statements, passports, your carte vitale, CV, carte de sejour, anything along those lines that might be needed to prove your identity, right to live in the country, where you live in the city, and so forth.

Pôle Emploi: How it works.


To register with the Pôle Emploi, you must be seeking work and have proof of residency. These questions will be verified either online or in person if you chose to go to a local agency. As everything is in French, unless you speak the language, you will need to have someone with you who can translate. Whether you visit a local center or use the website to fill in your application, you need to have your social security card, a CV in French and bank account information on hand, at the very least.

Pôle Emploi will ask for your work availability, name and address, when you were last employed, previous earnings, knowledge and training, and the type of job you are looking for. Once this information is entered, an interview will be scheduled. You will receive confirmation, along with forms to be filled out, signed and brought in with certain documents including your passport, an attestation Pôle Emploi from your last employer (if you were employed previously in France), a photocopy of your carte vitale and your bank information (RIB).

On the date of your interview with the Pôle Emploi representative, you will need to bring the documents mentioned above, along with your proof of education (certificates, diplomas, payslips from your former employer, etc). The representative will look at your qualifications, experience and the job market and help you put together a plan for the kind of job you’re seeking, where you’d like to work, the kind of pay you want, and what you’ll do to find a job. It is reevaluated every three months, and the agency itself will recommend jobs fitting your criteria. If you haven’t found anything in three months, you will be moved to a follow-up every month, and your representative may suggest training sessions, testing, and other things that might aid you in finding a job.

According to one source: If you refuse a “reasonable job offer” twice, you must unregister from Pôle Emploi. When you first start out looking for work, and you find something within six months, it should pay at least 95% of your previous earnings and match your qualifications; If you find a job after six months but in less than a year, the job should match 85% of your previous salary and you should accept any job with up to an hour’s commute, whether or not it matches your preferred area. After a year of searching, the job you find should correspond to your qualifications and pay at least as much as your unemployment benefits, with the same distance criteria. You are not obliged to accept a job at a salary lower than that usual in the region for the job type, a part-time job, or a temporary one, if you are looking for a permanent one. Check with your representative and make sure you understand how everything works.

You become eligible for unemployment benefits once you’ve registered as a job-seeker, but only after paying into social security for at least 122 days (or have done at least 610 hours of work) in the 28 months before the end of the last job in France (for those under the age of 50) or 36 months (for those aged 50 or above); or be unemployed involuntarily, and be under state retirement age. Even if you’re not eligible for benefits, you can still register and likely benefit from various training opportunities as well as job-seeking help.

The disabled


According to its website, Pôle Emploi is committed to offering all applicants, no matter their disability, the opportunity to find employment. At the time of recruitment and throughout their career, Pôle Emploi undertakes to adapt the working space and environment of employees recognized as being disabled. Handipass agencies support people registered as "disabled workers.” This type of agency has all the services of a standard Pôle Emploi agency, as well as a medical-social centre. Interpreters for the deaf or hard of hearing are always available to facilitate registration and access to interviews with agency advisers. Handipass agencies also help people wishing to set up their own business, offering guidance and directing them towards the relevant structures.

Social responsibility.


Pôle Emploi takes social responsibility seriously. Its strategic plan is:

 ● To develop environmentally-friendly operating methods and behavior—watching energy consumption, reducing paper waste, increase recycling and add more environmental clauses to purchasing contracts.
 ● To do more for those in need—focused on the green economy sector, and developing tools and opportunities for jobseekers interested in eco-friendly occupations.
 ● To place trust at the heart of the process—promoting equality and combating discrimination, externally and internally.

Pôle Emploi has a network of more than 900 local agencies, including 141 specific service offices and more than 73 service platforms.

Pôle Emploi International


Screenshot of Pôle Emploi international’s homepage

Pôle Emploi International provides services to applicants and employers in the fields of employment and European and international mobility. Advisers offer guidance to applicants seeking mobility, supporting them through the application processes. Pôle Emploi International provides information relating to working and living conditions in foreign countries, advice for putting together a CV and techniques to employ when seeking a job in various countries. Job-seekers needing French language training can also find help through Pôle Emploi.

Video Kiosks


The video kiosk system consists of a network of video conferencing facilities, set up in rural and isolated communities. The system allows job-seekers living in these areas to gain access to Pôle Emploi services via a video link to an adviser.

Pôle Emploi is a very useful tool. A jobseeker should take full advantage of its services. Your perfect job could be right around the corner.

What do you think?

Have you found a job in Paris? What was your experience with the job search? Did you use a translator? How long did it take? How did it compare with getting a job in your own country? Please share your insights in the comment section below. Let’s start a discussion! 

Disclaimer: Please note that this guide is published for informational purposes only. Contact a consultant or visit the nearest Pôle Emploi agency in your arrondissement for detailed help with any job-related questions.



Last modified onMonday, 14 September 2020 09:58
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