Home Working in France Employment Basics FAQs on recruiting in France
Last update on November 12, 2019
Written by Nannette Ripmeester

Our Expatica HR expert explains how the recruitment process works in France, and what to expect from French business culture when looking for a job in France.

Recruiting in another country seems simple. Okay, people most likely speak another language and have slightly different habits and, after all, it’s all about hiring the best person for the job. However, if you have ever attempted to recruit in another country, you will know that the process isn’t that simple.

The European labour market is full of unexpected hurdles, especially because national differences between the countries of Europe manifest themselves not only in different languages but also in different recruitment practices.

Recruiting in another country definitely entails more than reading CVs in another language. It starts by understanding what motivates people in certain countries.

Recruiting in France

In France, it is important to understand the significance of hierarchy. In French organisations, positions and the corresponding power levels are clearly defined. Most communication lies underneath the surface and is a complex network of personal ties and alliances that help people to accomplish matters.

French communication expert Yvon Laret also stresses the importance of personal networks: “For the French, knowing and comprehending each other’s background is essential. Doing business without knowing the person opposite you is out of the question.”

If you want to hire the right person for the job, it is crucial to find some common ground.

For instance, the number one mistake would be deleting all hand-written application letters from your record of candidates. Don’t be surprised at how many you receive. Around 75 percent of French employers request a hand-written application letter.

Graphology is still one of the selection tools used in the application process in France. Most commonly, it is used to confirm another psychological testing. So be prepared to receive a handwritten application letter of about 15 to 20 lines, which focuses on the applicant’s most recent activities and demonstrates with examples why they consider themselves the right person for the job.

A French application

The standard French CV is either in a reversed chronological order or clustered by function. The CV, often with a photograph attached, is brief, maximum two pages. The personal details include the candidate’s name, their address and telephone number, their nationality, civil status, age and place of birth.

Usually, only the highest education is mentioned. Job experience and responsibilities are described in detail along with language skills.

On the other hand, hobbies and extra-curricular activities get less attention. Often, a French CV contains a ‘projet professionel’: in a maximum of five lines, the candidate describes their educational background and where making use of their strongest skills, they see themselves professionally in 5 to 10 years time. This is usually placed below the personal details.

References and copies of diplomas are not included, but candidates bring these to the application interview.