Greetings from a still sunny, albeit chillier South of France. I’ve started pulling a few of my sweaters out of storage and also looking around town for the latest fall trends…mainly scarves, scarves, & more scarves. So far, no big surprises heading into the fall season (my wallet is happy).
I’ve also started a new job, moving from part-time to full-time work, which has left me with less time for blogging but with more money in la banque. I’ve still got lots of time for traveling around on the weekends, and especially looking forward to the fall festivals coming next month – can already smell those roasted chestnuts in Collobrieres.
And if you happen to follow other France blogs, you may or may not have picked-up on the fact that finding a job in the South of France is not easy – for expats and locals alike. Frankly, I love living in the South of France & we made the decision (quite a while back) not to move to Paris (where the job market is understandably larger) for cost-of-living and convenience issues. I think our “big city” days are a bit behind us and I find myself dreaming of lounging lazily on the terrasse instead of zipping around on the Metro. Although that’s kinda awesome too.
Plus we live in the land of the TGV – the parfums of Paris are roughly four hours away by train. Mais oui….
So, if you’re anything like me, with a passion for Provence but in need of a way to finance it, here’s a few tips for “living your dream” in this very special job market.
It probably goes without saying that you should pick-up a French course or two (in my case, more like 5) before hitting the job market. Although not all employers will require you to be fluent immediately, it will of course give you a “leg-up” on the competition. Another factor to keep in mind is, as a foreigner, the special “skills” you have to offer. Be it in language-teaching, tourism, or a particular way of looking at business, we all bring something unique to the table as expats.
Depending on your location and how large your city is, it may or may not be easy to access an “expat network”. In any case, try to get hooked into one as soon as possible. These networks are where you will find out about unadvertised positions or someone may simply pass his or her work on to you. Also, be ready to pound the pavement and visit companies with your CV in hand. I found face-to-face contact generated many more leads than email alone.
Present Yourself Well
The French are quite impressed with diplomas, certificates, and any extra training you might have done in your field. Remember to include everything of relevance on your CV and be prepared to discuss your qualifications and really “prove” yourself in an interview. It can be a real “testing ground”, and more than a little intimidating, but it seems like the French-style of hiring (quite different from the U.S. version) really focuses on testing the candidate’s credentials. Thankfully, once you’re “in”, it’s a different story.
Have (a lot of) Patience
If you come to the South without a job-contract awaiting you, be prepared (in many cases) for a long job search. There are usually part-time opportunities in teaching English or seasonal work (tourism and/or agriculture), and everyone’s work situation is different, but it’s a good idea to be realistic vis-à-vis financial responsibilities. Granted, it’s not as expensive as Paris, but there’s still all that cheese and Rosé to pay for!
Viola, just a few of my thoughts on finding a job in le bel South. I’m now quite concentrated on this weekend and the time we’ll get to spend at the Fête de la Gastronomie (can’t wait…) A très bientôt!