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Hi,

I have fairly recently moved to Paris, 30y.o. and work in Finance. I have been looking for anything remotely relevant to finance where English is the working language, with very little success so far!

There are quite a few positions, but generally French is still required to some extent (my French is very Basic). I think I have applied for every single position available in Paris now (obviously, working in Finance I have a spreadsheet to confirm this!). I rather foolishly thought that Paris might be an international financial centre where English is becoming the working language, but it turns out it isn't sadly. Strangly the best jobs seem to require English mother toungue but also decent French (presumably for admin etc).

I would be interested to hear from anyone else that has had a similar experience or that has actually succeeded in finding a suitable finance job in Paris (without speaking much French). What are other ppls thoughts on this? Also I would be interested in getting in touch with anyone that has recently moved to Paris and in a similar position, or looking to learn French?

Cheers,

Steve
 

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Back before I came to France to live, I worked for one of those international companies where English was supposed to be the "working language" for all offices within the company. Practically speaking what that means is that anyone hired by the local office was supposed to be able to speak English in addition to the local language. To be honest, that wasn't always the case.

The only English-only speakers in most of the international offices were short-term transferees from the US headquarters or visiting "suits" from the US.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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generally French is still required to some extent
I really can't see why you should expect anything else. Could you really envisage someone working in your old job in the UK who didn't speak any English?

This is France - they speak French here.

I'm an English trainer in business English - it's my job to speak English all day and refuse to speak French! However, I would never get any work if I was unable to survive an interview in French, to ring my students (who are often "nul" in English) to arrange the first lesson, or to pay my taxes. Admin. is in the language of the country where you choose to work.

As a 30-y-o you should have no problem learning French quickly - make that your first objective.
 

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My thoughts are that this is gonna be the issue wherever you go in the world where english isnt the nationl language. In fact I would imagine it would annoy the french if you were employed over someone who could speak the language?? I know how I would have felt in the UK if I'd ended up with a colleague who I couldnt "chat" to and who was employed over and above someone who could speak the national language, regardless of their skills. So get some lessons and emmerse yourself LOL

Jo xxx
 

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here I am

Hello!
I moved to Paris last july after having work in an investment bank Milan - based for 6 years.

I swear I sent CV eeeverywhere and never got a call. I sent 3 to London and got one call.

Are you still looking for a job?

cheers
Laura
 

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I really can't see why you should expect anything else. Could you really envisage someone working in your old job in the UK who didn't speak any English?

This is France - they speak French here.

I'm an English trainer in business English - it's my job to speak English all day and refuse to speak French! However, I would never get any work if I was unable to survive an interview in French, to ring my students (who are often "nul" in English) to arrange the first lesson, or to pay my taxes. Admin. is in the language of the country where you choose to work.

As a 30-y-o you should have no problem learning French quickly - make that your first objective.
Hey Shelagh, sorry to hijack, but I'd love to learn more about your job; I'm moving to Paris (fluent French, American national) and am a teacher/trainer by profession, this sounds like something I could do...how did you get started, what is the general pay scale, etc? (PM if you like)
 

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Hey Shelagh, sorry to hijack, but I'd love to learn more about your job; I'm moving to Paris (fluent French, American national) and am a teacher/trainer by profession, this sounds like something I could do...how did you get started, what is the general pay scale, etc? (PM if you like)
Please don't PM...we'd all like to know!! Isabelle...when do you plan your move? I am a teacher as well...I would like to get my CELTA and teach english or work in an international school. I'd love any info on this topic! Moderator...my apologies for the off topic post..feel free to move me to a separate thread.
To the original poster....you can learn french!! If I can then anyone can. I highly recommend the Rosetta Stone software. I am using it to learn Italian and my school district uses it for the ESL students...good luck and don't give up your dream. Just be a realist though. ;)
 

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Another vote for Rosetta Stone - I used it to learn Greek. It's a very good method, if expensive.

The BBC has free French lessons available on their website, and at this link

Resource: French in Action

you can find all the videos from the fabulous "French in Action" series of the 80's, free. This is my husband's primary method of learning French, and I love watching with him and frequently learn something or am reminded of a turn of phrase I had forgotten, even though I've been learning and speaking French since I was 12. It focuses heavily on idiomatic speech rather than focusing on the rules of grammar, etc.

Softouch, we are moving in Aug. - my husband's job is at a research institute and will start Sept. 15, but my daughter will need to start school Sept. 2.
 

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Another vote for Rosetta Stone - I used it to learn Greek. It's a very good method, if expensive.

The BBC has free French lessons available on their website, and at this link

Resource: French in Action

you can find all the videos from the fabulous "French in Action" series of the 80's, free. This is my husband's primary method of learning French, and I love watching with him and frequently learn something or am reminded of a turn of phrase I had forgotten, even though I've been learning and speaking French since I was 12. It focuses heavily on idiomatic speech rather than focusing on the rules of grammar, etc.

Softouch, we are moving in Aug. - my husband's job is at a research institute and will start Sept. 15, but my daughter will need to start school Sept. 2.
Isabelle! Your move must be in full swing by now. Are you excited? You didn't mention how old your daughter is? Did we ever get a response from Shelagh about her job? Keep us up to date.
 

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I-Tunes

Itunes provides free French language lessons, most probably podcasts...

Check it and download, it's free , it's legal, it's good.

Merci la Pomme.
 

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Hi Steve,

I'm glad that I found your post because I'm in a very similar situation. I'm from a Finance/Accounting background from the US and have been looking in the Paris area for a Finance position with no luck. My husband is French so I'm authorized to work here, but that doesn't seem to make a difference. I get the feeling that I get passed up as soon as they see that I'm not French. My French is intermediate and I state that in my resume/CV. If you want to discuss more, please PM me.
 

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Hi Steve,

I'm glad that I found your post because I'm in a very similar situation. I'm from a Finance/Accounting background from the US and have been looking in the Paris area for a Finance position with no luck. My husband is French so I'm authorized to work here, but that doesn't seem to make a difference. I get the feeling that I get passed up as soon as they see that I'm not French. My French is intermediate and I state that in my resume/CV. If you want to discuss more, please PM me.
You probably are getting passed over due to your nationality and your statement about your level of French on your CV. A couple of ideas:

First of all, your CV/resume should be in French and in the French style. (If it already is, you're ahead of the game.)

You need to state your nationality in the CV, but in your case, you should also state your right to work in France - you should include that you are married to a French national and the type of "titre de séjour" (just quote the part that says you have full rights to work anywhere in France). If that's not on your CV, the employers assume you're looking for an employer sponsorship for a visa. Marital status ("family situation") is a common piece of information on a European CV, but I know many Americans who don't include it.

The French think that their form of accounting and finance is vastly different from elsewhere, especially the "anglo-saxon countries." Other than the prescribed chart of accounts, that's not really true, but they will often look for some indication that you "know French accounting." You may want to consider looking into the CCIP Diplôme de Français des Affaires, which is a course and test that "certifies" that you've learned business French (and a few French business customs and practices along the way). There is information about all this here: Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie de Paris Examen (Don't be put off by the "480 hours" or "600 hours" considered necessary for these exams - that is total hours of French study, starting from 0 French at all.)

Many of the Paris language schools offer cram ("intensive") courses to prep you for the exams (level I and level II). Having either or both of those on your CV would go a long way toward overcoming any employer skepticism about your level of French. And at an "intermediate" level of all-around French, you should be able to manage at least the Level I exams with a bit of prep work.

Remember, the French are nuts about "qualifications" - and this puts a "certificate" to your claim to speak French. It could make a huge difference in your job hunt.

OTOH, one other factor is that you are a female and are assumed to be anxious to cash in on your entitlement to maternity leave. It's a real but rarely addressed issue especially for women who are looking at manager level jobs in France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hi Bev,

Thanks for your very helpful advice! About a French CV, I do have one that has been reviewed by 3 different French people.

I'll definitely look into these other points:

1) My legal status - On my CV, I put down that I'm authorized to work in France, but I might as well put that I'm married to a French person.

2) I did take the TEF (Test d'Evaluation de Francais) administered by the Chambre de commerce d'industrie de Paris, but never thought about putting it on my CV. That's a good idea. The test result was that I'm at level 4 or [email protected] out of a 6 level scale so I'm at an advanced intermediate level. All I put on my CV was that I'm intermediate, but I should put down that I'm certified to be at that level. Do you think the DFA exam level 1 is something I should pursue or is the TEF enough?

Sadly, I'm also a CPA and put that on my CV but most people seem to not know what it is. For example, my French brother-in-law is an accountant but didn't even know what it is. :(
 

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Hi Bev,

Thanks for your very helpful advice! About a French CV, I do have one that has been reviewed by 3 different French people.

I'll definitely look into these other points:

1) My legal status - On my CV, I put down that I'm authorized to work in France, but I might as well put that I'm married to a French person.

2) I did take the TEF (Test d'Evaluation de Francais) administered by the Chambre de commerce d'industrie de Paris, but never thought about putting it on my CV. That's a good idea. The test result was that I'm at level 4 or [email protected] out of a 6 level scale so I'm at an advanced intermediate level. All I put on my CV was that I'm intermediate, but I should put down that I'm certified to be at that level. Do you think the DFA exam level 1 is something I should pursue or is the TEF enough?

Sadly, I'm also a CPA and put that on my CV but most people seem to not know what it is. For example, my French brother-in-law is an accountant but didn't even know what it is. :(
OK - just thought I'd ask about the French CV. I admit to having done my job hunting here in Europe with an English CV, but there were different circumstances back when I was looking.

1. The "family situation" item often includes whether or not you have children (and how many) but I think including the kids is falling out of fashion these days. Mentioning you're married to a French national does help in subtle ways.

2. They've changed all the French language exams around since I did my language courses. From what I can tell, the TEF is just a general evaluation of your French. The DFA I and II are specifically business oriented and would certainly give you an advantage over other non-native speakers of French.

3. No, the French don't know what a CPA is - but you can always put the explanation that it's the American version of the Expert Comptable. When I looked into it a long time ago, you're eligible to become an expert comptable here, though you still have to sit the exams (in French, of course). The accounting community here accepts that a CPA is the equivalent of an Expert Comptable, so it never hurts to spell it out on your CV. It's not so frequent here, though, to qualify as an expert comptable and then take your expertise to the private sector (most experts comptables work in a cabinet of experts comptable or set up their own shop), so be prepared to explain how things work in the US.

Most French don't know what an MBA is, either, so you have to spell it out for them, too. (Discovered this when I went for my French nationality.)

Unfortunately, you're up against some tough issues here: foreign credentials, a tough job market even for the locals with French credentials and, being a woman looking for a manager level job. You might want to look into temping through an interim agency like Robert Half (which exists here in France) or any other one that focuses on financial personnel. Granted, they'll send you out on some groady jobs, but you might get enough "street cred" by having worked a few places to at least be able to say that you've "proven" your French ability since your arrival.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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