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Working in Paris

Find out How to Get a Job and Work in Paris

Working in Paris can be a great experience and get you ahead in your career. There is a large number of international companies based in the city, and the start-up scene is booming. You should only have trouble finding a job if you do not speak French at all.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

Finding a job in Paris as an expat is not impossible, but it can become quite tricky and tiresome. The job market is competitive, and there are many highly skilled domestic workers who do not need visa sponsorship from their employers, nor French lessons.

Even though the City of Lights (Ville Lumière) is home to many international companies such as Chanel, and Dior, its economy has been described as “stagnant” over the last three to four years. But the reducing of bureaucratic obstacles mean that Paris’ start-up and entrepreneur scene have been booming, replacing Berlin as Europe’s second-largest start-up hub. With a growing business and tech landscape, Paris is attracting more and more international investors, entrepreneurs, and highly skilled workers.

Nevertheless, many expats find adapting to the Parisian workplace rather difficult. The atmosphere is very formal, and appropriate office attire plays a major role in everyday life. Another stressful factor for many expats is the language barrier. Finding a job without a proficient level of French is almost impossible.

Job Market Overview

Things to Know About Working in Paris

Stagnant Economy

According to data from the 2019 Paris Region Key Figures report, one in six jobs in the Greater Paris region was created by a foreign company. France is the 5th largest economy in the world, and Paris is home to headquarters of many Global 500 companies. Its stagnant economy, however, has caused a rising unemployment rate. President Emmanuel Macron has announced a number of economic reforms to reshape the job market. As a quick overview: He wants to simplify the process of getting foreign talent into the country, as well as removing some of the obstacles to building your own business in France, in order to attract international investors, foreign companies, and entrepreneurs.

There is Always a Grève (Protest)

The famous mouvements des gilets jaunes (yellow vests protests) in Paris in late 2018 spiked international curiosity towards French protest culture. Back then, President Emmanuel Macron wanted to implement tax reforms that would mostly affect middle-class wages and fuel prices, diesel in particular. Drivers all over Paris took to the streets to protest, wearing the yellow vests that everyone has to keep in the trunk of their car by French law. The pressure from the population was so big that Macron decided not to implement a lot of the reforms he had planned. While living in Paris, you are likely to see many protests. Doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, public workers, and many more go regularly to the streets to fight for their rights. You should get used to it.

Work hours and Vacation

Would you love working a 35-hour week for a full salary? Paris has one of the shortest workweeks in the world. On top of this benefit, you get a minimum of five weeks of paid vacation and at least a dozen national holidays.

Tax Relief for Expats

In order to attract entrepreneurs and high-skilled employees, the French government offers a special tax relief for expats that is valid for up to eight years. People working in a full-time position are eligible. If you want to know more about the taxation system in France, read the Banks & Taxes section of our France guide.

Language and Cultural Skills

We cannot stress enough that expats who wish to work in Paris need to learn the language and hand gestures, as the lack thereof can otherwise lead to miscommunications on embarrassing situations. The often-used sign for OK (a circle connected by your thumb and index finger) means null in French, which translates to zero or “worthless.” Avoid using that towards your colleagues!

The French are also known for les bises (cheek kisses), which you should absolutely never do in a business setting, as it is too informal. Opt for a light handshake instead. If you want to learn more about the language, culture, and social etiquette of the French, do not hesitate to contact our experts at InterNations GO! They can set you up with native tutors in no time.

Business etiquette
  • Parisians have a very classy sense of style. This also extends into the workplace. Women wear dresses or pantsuits, and men wear suits.
  • Lunchtime is sacred. Most employees have a one- or two-hour break to eat, relax, and recharge.
  • If you are at a business lunch, remember to always keep your hands on the table, never in your lap. While only keeping your dominant hand on the table, and the non-dominant one on your lap, unless you are using it to help cut something, is the polite thing to do in a lot of cultures, in France it is considered to be the opposite.
  • Always address your superiors and people you meet for the first time with Madame (Mrs) or Monsieur (Mr) followed by their surname.

The Most Required Jobs and Skills in Demand in Paris

According to the annual Global 500 list, France consistently ranks alongside the US, and China as one of the top ten countries where the most global companies are based. Most of these companies in France are headquartered in Paris, with the city boasting a lot of employment opportunities for expats looking to join one of these companies to get ahead in their career. The most prominent sectors that offer leading high-level executive positions in the City of Lights are the IT and technology, automotive, finance, and insurance industries. Expats that prefer the creative, or retail sectors can find jobs in areas such as luxury goods, fashion, and cosmetics.

However, the positions with the highest levels of recruitment are not business managers, software engineers, or doctors. Instead, the greater Paris region, île-de-France, lacks workers in professions such as pre-school assistants, teachers, administrative assistants, customer advisors, technicians, mechanics, and personal care assistants, among many others.

Keep in mind, though, that the employment market in France is highly competitive, and employers tend to favor hiring French people, as they don’t need visa sponsorship nor French language and culture lessons.

The Key Sectors in Paris

Paris has a very diversified economic sector and expats will find jobs in industries such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, telecommunications, aerospace and automotive industries, as well as fashion retail and luxury goods, among many others.

  • Aerospace & Defense: Airbus Group, Dassault Aviation, Safran, Thales Group, Arianespace, European Space Agency, Zodiac.
  • Automotive, Logistics & Transportation: Renault, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Bosch, Continental, Air France-KLM Group, DHL, FedEx, Paris Aéroport, RATP, SNCF, Systra, Transilien, Transdev.
  • Cleantech & Energy: Air Liquide, Areva, EDF, ENGIE, Schneider Electric, Suez, Total, Veolia, Bouygues, Eiffage, Vinci.
  • Media, Film, TV & Gaming: Europacorp, Gaumont, MK2, Netflix, Paramount, Pathé, Universal, Warner Bros, UGC, Gameloft,
  • Fashion, Beauty, Design & Luxury Goods: Cartier, Chanel, Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Kering (Gucci, Yves Saint-Laurent), LVMH, L’Oréal.
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Guerbet, Lilly, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis.
  • Tech & IT: Apple, Atos, Dassault Systèmes, Facebook, Free, Fujitsu, Google, Horiba, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia France, Oracle, Orange, Philips, Safran Electronics and Defense, SAP, SFR Group, Siemens, Sony, Thales, Vivendi, ZTE.
  • Financial Services & Insurance:  BNP Paribas, BPCE Group, Crédit Agricole, La Banque Postale, Société Générale, Axa, Allianz, CNP Assurance, Generali.

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Average Salary

The average annual salary in Paris is around 46,000 EUR (50,500 USD), with 2,170 EUR (2,380 USD) being the monthly income after taxes. However, not everyone earns that much. In fact, 25% of Paris’ employees earn less than 32,000 EUR (35,100 USD) gross per year, which is still more than the minimum salary. In 2019 the minimum gross income was 1,521.22 EUR (1,670 USD) monthly.

What is a Good Salary in Paris?

As a large city that attracts many tourists, the cost of living in Paris is much higher than in the rest of France. You can expect your rent to cost on average 26 EUR (28.50 USD) more per square meter than in any other French city. Basic daily amenities also cost much more here in comparison to the rest of France, as well as other European countries. In the Economist’s annual Cost of Living Survey, Paris always ranks in the top ten most expensive cities in the world to live in. Even the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) notes that in France, the average the amount of money available to each household after taxes and transfers, is around 31,300 USD a year, lower than the OECD average of 33,600 USD. This money is free for spending on goods and services, including rent or mortgage.

So, what is a good salary to live comfortably in Paris? That depends on your circumstances. Are you single and living by yourself in the city center? Or are you a family of four in the suburbs? As a rule of thumb, your monthly net salary should be three times as high as your rent. If you are earning around the average annual income of 46,000 EUR (50,500 USD), your monthly income of about 2,170 EUR (2,380 USD) would barely cover your rent in a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Paris. To live comfortably in the City of Lights, you will need to earn above the annual average. A comfortable salary would be 50,000 EUR (55,000 USD); a good one is higher than that. A family of four would need at least twice as much.

Popular Job Salaries

Top jobs in Paris, however, are very popular, and pay much more than the average salary.

Job Title Salary (EUR) Salary (USD)
Software Engineer 43,000 47,200
Bank Manager 130,000 143,000
Project Manager 48,000 52,700
Financial Operations Manager 91,000 100,000
Head of Marketing & Sales 100,000 108,000

How to Get a Job

Wondering how to get a job in Paris? Be prepared to jump through some serious hoops, such as securing a visa and work permit while finding your way through the maze of French bureaucracy As an EU/EEA or Swiss national you will be able to work in Paris without a work permit. But if you are not from an EU/EEA member state, you will have to find an employer willing to sponsor your visa. The easiest way to go about this is to apply to a company in your home country that has a branch in Paris. You will then be able to ask for a transfer, and your employer will sponsor you and take care of whatever paperwork is required for your move.

In order to increase global competitiveness in the job market, the French government simplified the process of getting a work visa by introducing the so-called “Talent Passport,” a multi-year residence permit for high-skilled workers and self-employed people. If you want to know more about the talent passport, or about French work permits in general, read the Visa and Work Permits section of our France guide.

Finding a job as a non-French native speaker can be very difficult, as knowledge of the language is a prerequisite in this job market. A sector that does not require an advanced knowledge of the language is teaching and education. A lot of expats work as nannies, and English teachers.

Tips on How to Find a Job in Paris

Networking Events

As an expat, you will quickly realize that finding a job in Paris in your field of expertise can be complex, and time-consuming. A good way to find a job is to build a network of relevant contacts by attending networking events, either in your preferred area or for the companies you like to work for. In a large and active city such as Paris, there are plenty of events to attend. You will find such events on pages like:

  • InterNations
  • Eventful
  • Meet Up
  • Net Party
  • Professional Women Paris
Social Media

If you already have certain companies in mind, it is always worth giving them a like or follow on social media. A lot of these firms tend to post vacancies across their social networks.

Online Job boards

Before even moving to Paris, you should start browsing through job search sites. You will find that a lot of listings are online, meaning you can tackle the application process immediately.

Largest job search platforms:

  • Jobintree
  • LinkedIn
  • Monster
  • Indeed

Local job search platforms:

  • Emplois-Verts
  • The Local
  • Keljob
  • Cadre Emploi
Recruitment firms

If you don’t know where to start looking, your best bet is to get help from a recruitment agency or a headhunter. Most of these firms, including those listed below, have close relationships with the companies and know when jobs are available before they are even officially announced.

  • Adecco
  • Manpower Paris
  • Yves Marie Consultants
  • GBO Human Resources
  • APEC

What to consider when Applying for a Job

Learn French

There might be European cities you can live and work without ever really learning the language.  Paris is not one of them. The position you are applying for might never really require you to speak French. However, not having a firm grasp of the language might be the reason you are not considered for the job.

If you need help finding a suitable tutor or language course, do not hesitate to contact our experts at InterNations GO! On est enchanté (we are delighted) to help get you started with your French.

Translate your Résumé

First off, you should know that résumé in French means summary. You should avoid using that term when applying for jobs, even though you are technically presenting a summary of your academic and professional life. Use CV (short for curriculum vitae), and lettre de motivation (cover letter) instead.

Keep in mind that in France, both the cover letter and the CV should not be longer than a single page for junior positions, and a maximum of two pages for senior positions. If you need more tips on how to apply for a job as a foreigner, read our in our Working in France guide.

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship, and self-employment are common in Paris. In fact, according to Ernst & Young’s 2019 startup barometer, the City of Lights has officially pushed Berlin off its throne and is now Europe’s number two start-up city. London still remains the undisputed leader in Europe.

In 2017 Paris was named the European Capital of Innovation, winning the first prize worth 1 million EUR (1.1 million USD). President Emmanuel Macron has since set out on a quest to turn France into Europe’s leading start-up nation, with Paris as its capital. More government funding and less bureaucratic hurdles for young entrepreneurs has helped the start-up and entrepreneur sector in Paris to grow steadily over the last few years. The city has initiatives to offer financial support, workshops, co-working spaces, and networking possibilities that bring investors and founders together. Some of these initiatives are based in the tech scene and include hubs such as Station F, French Tech Visa, Viva Tech, and École 42.

If you need more information on self-employment and entrepreneurship in France, read our Working in France guide.

Popular Co-Working Spaces in Paris

In a city aiming to become Europe’s leading start-up capital, there is no shortage of coworking spaces and hubs in Paris. These places not only offer physical workspaces, but also networking events, workshops, and tips and tricks around building a company. Some of them are built in synergy with big corporations, in order to share the expertise and knowledge of both sides.

The costs of coworking spaces are very affordable. They range from 5 EUR (5.50 USD) an hour, to 20 EUR (22 USD) per day, to 100 EUR (110 USD) per month.

Some co-working spaces in the city include:

  • Station F, 5 Parvis Alan Turing, 75013 Paris
  • Schoolab, 21 rue de Cléry, 75002 Paris
  • Le Laptop, 7 rue Geoffroy L’Angevin, 75004 Paris
  • Partech Shaker, 33 rue du Mail, 75002 Paris
  • Kwerk, 29-31 Rue de Courcelles, 75008 Paris

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: June 17, 2020
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