Finding work and doing vocational training in France

Looking for a job in a country you didn’t grow up in can seem daunting, especially if you don’t speak the language. But with perseverance and support, it is possible to find a job or learn a new profession. 

Verified by WFWF on 31/01/2024

It can seem very difficult to start looking for a job in France, especially if you don’t speak French. 

But don’t feel discouraged: many industries are recruiting, and it’s possible to get help from professionals along the way.

While you’re looking, you can take French courses to learn the basics or improve your skills

Preparing for your job search

  • To work in France, legally, you must have a residence permit or “titre de séjour”. This “titre de séjour” will need to also authorise you to work. 

    If you do not have a “titre de séjour” or your “titre de séjour” does not authorise you to work, you may still obtain a work permit if you meet certain conditions.

    If you are unsure of the rules that apply to your “titre de séjour”, you can check them on this website.

  • Depending on your profession, it will be useful, if not necessary, to have your qualifications and/or professional experience recognised in France in order to be able to carry out your profession here.


    To have a diploma recognised, contact the department responsible for issuing diploma recognition documents in the majority of industries in France, called the “centre ENIC-NARIC”. 

    If they are not responsible for your particular qualification, they can direct you to the right service. 

    Work experience

    If you do not have qualifications but you have worked, you could ask for recognition of this experience. 

    To do this, you will need to ask for recognition of your professional experience called “Validation des Acquis de l’Expérience (VAE)”. It will enable you to obtain a level of training recognised by employers.

    You can find all the information you need on this website.

  • To apply for job vacancies, you need a document called a “Curriculum Vitae (CV)” detailing:

    • your professional experience
    • the training courses you have taken 
    • any qualifications you have obtained.

    It is not mandatory to put your photo, your age or date of birth, your marital status or the number of your children on this document. 

    Unfortunately in France, many candidates continue to include their photo and age in their “CV”, but this is thankfully becoming less and less common.

    To apply for vacancies, you will usually need to send your “CV” with a letter called a “lettre de motivation” or cover letter explaining why you are applying for the job and why you think you are a good candidate.

    You can get help writing these two documents in French. 

    In France, it is recommended that the CV and the cover letter should each be only one page long. Depending on the industry in which you work and your level of experience, the CV may sometimes be two pages.

  • Even if this is not compulsory, it is strongly recommended to register with the national support service for people without work called the “France Travail”. 

    An adviser will be able to give you information and help you with your job search and/or vocational training. 

    They can also refer you to an internship or a language training centre to improve your level of French.

    Conditions to fulfil

    You must meet certain conditions in order to register for the “France Travail”:

    • If you are a national of a Member State of the European Union, all you need is a valid identity document.
    • If you are a national of a country outside the European Union, you must have a document authorising you to stay in France, known as a “titre de séjour”, which authorises you to work. A list of accepted “titres de séjour” can be found on this page
    • If you are awaiting your final “titre de séjour”, your provisional document known as a “récépissé” may allow you to register for the “France Travail” (job centre) in certain cases. You can check this by asking the “préfecture” who sent you your “récépissé” or at a “France Travail” branch near you.

    First meeting with an adviser

    Once you have completed your registration, you will have an adviser assigned to you who will offer you an appointment at a branch near you.

    It is essential to go to this meeting to validate your registration.

    Creating an “espace candidat” (online profile)

    After registering, you will then need to create an online profile known as an “espace candidat” to apply for job vacancies easily. 

    Updating your profile 

    You will need to confirm every month that you are still looking for a job. This process is called updating or “s’actualiser”. 

    This monthly update of your profile is done online from your “espace candidat”.

  • Once you have registered for the “France Travail”, you will have free access to the online training site in French “OpenClassRooms” for three months.

    You can also search for vocational training online.

    Training courses are either free of charge or subject to a fee, depending on the case. If the one you have chosen is subject to a charge, you can ask your adviser if the “France Travail” can finance it.

    At the end of your training, you will be able to receive a document confirming that you have been trained, which is called a certificate of achievement or “certificat de réussite”. This is not a degree, but can be useful when applying for a position that requires skills related to the training.

  • If you are between the ages of 16 and 25, or under 30 if you have a disability, you could benefit from tailored government unemployment support as part of a programme called “1 jeune 1 solution”.

    Depending on your profile, you may have access to: 

    • regular one-to-one updates with a job adviser
    • joint workshops with other young people to share your experiences 
    • company internships to discover different professions 
    • qualified training courses.

Applying for jobs

  • Vacancies are usually posted online. There are many job search sites in France. 

    The “France Travail” site has many job vacancies. Even if you do not meet the conditions for registering for the “France Travail”, you can still create an “espace candidat” and view available job vacancies. 

    You can visit other sites such as Indeed, Monster, Apec, DirectEmploi, RegionsJob, Leboncoin or LinkedIn.

    You can save your search criteria and activate alerts by entering your email address. This will allow you to receive emails every time a job vacancy that matches your criteria is posted.

  • In France, it is common to send an application straight to employers you wish to work for, even if they have not advertised any job vacancies.

    If you have a specific skill that some organisations are looking for, or you know companies that work with clients who speak your language, you can send them your CV and a cover letter explaining why you would be an asset to their business.

  • Sometimes you can find a job through your network. 

    This can be difficult if you have just arrived in France and you don’t have family or friends here. But there are ways to find a community. Try not to be discouraged.

  • If you need a job very quickly, you can search in industries that hire people quickly and for which it is not always necessary to speak French fluently or have training. 

    You could sign an employment contract in just a few days.

    Fast-recruiting industries

    These industries are known to be able to hire quickly:

    • Childcare at home, either by posting an advertisement on a site such Maminou or Bébé nounou, or via a specialist company such as Kinougarde or Yoopala
    • Cleaning and household tasks for individual households or companies, either by posting an advertisement on a site such as Star of service or Lulu dans ma rue,or via a specialist company such as Wecasa or Shiva.
    • Odd jobs and household tasks, either by posting an advertisement on a site such as Lulu dans ma rue, Need help or Travaux, or via a specialist company such as TaskRabbit.
    • Delivery services or “coursiers” such as Deliveroo or Uber Eats.
    • Service in the hospitality industry, by searching for job advertisements on job sites or by going directly to restaurants and bars near you.
    • Building and construction, looking for advertisements on job sites or specialist sites such as Emploi BTP.

    Local opportunities

    Depending on where you live, there are sometimes other job opportunities, sometimes seasonal; for example, in agriculture, material handling, sports or leisure activities. 

    You can ask around or get information from the administrative authorities in your town known as the “mairie”.

    Signing an employment contract

    It is important to remember that even if you are in a hurry, it is very important to sign an employment contract with your employer before you start work. 

    Some employers in France try to take advantage of foreign nationals; for example, by having them work and then not paying them. 

    You can get help to have a professional check that your employment contract is legal, especially if you do not speak French well.

Employment discrimination

In France, employers are not allowed to refuse an application due to criteria considered as discriminatory. Examples include the person’s origin, name, health, physical appearance, gender, sexual orientation or religion.

Unfortunately, this is still common in practice.

If you think that you have received less favourable treatment in your job search due to an aspect of discrimination, there are solutions to assert your rights.

Common concerns

  • You can complete this questionnaire to find out which elements of your situation could give you residency rights in France. 

    Based on the possible “titres de séjour”, we indicate whether they allow work.

    If your current “titre de séjour” does not allow you to work, you could consider requesting a change from the “préfecture”.

  • There are childcare solutions for your children under the age of three.

  • Depending on your skills and the position you want to take up, it is not always necessary to speak fluent French to find a job. 

    If you want to learn French, there are many solutions.

Find Support

In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.

  • France Travail” helps people find employment, and can advise on business creation. They also manage French unemployment payments or “allocations de retour à l’emploi” commonly known as “chômage”.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • To use this service, you must first register with them online. You will then receive an appointment at an agency near you.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: registration is done online on their website. If you need to contact them, there are several ways:
      • you can send them an e-mail from your personal space after creating your online profile
      • you can call them on 3949, a free number available Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
      • you can visit an agency near you, in person, without an appointment in the morning.
  • Cap Emploi” prepares and supports people living with disabilities to find and retain employment. 

    • This service is free.
    • If you are living with a disability, they will give you advice and support you in anything employment related.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: you can find the contact details of the “Cap Emploi” in your area in this directory.
  • The “Centres d'Information sur les Droits des Femmes et des Familles (CIDFF)” helps the general public, especially women, in many areas such as: legal rights, health, employment searches, training, business creation, and even childcare.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • They will be able to inform you of your rights and the steps to take. Some centres can assist you with procedures and paperwork.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: you will find the contact details of the “CIDFF” in your area in this directory.
  • Each One” promotes professional inclusion of immigrants and refugees in France. They work directly with large companies to recruit and train candidates for specific positions in their area.

    • This service is free.
    • You must be authorised to work in France and have registered with “France Travail”.
    • You can then register in their pool of candidates. You will be contacted when an opportunity arises in your region in your area of expertise. 
    • In general, an A2 level of French is required, but this can vary depending on the role.
    • Languages available: French, English.
    • Contact: you can register online by filling out this form.

While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.

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