Oct 172011

The company that wants to hire me in France is hiring me in part because I have a Master’s degree (aka, high school plus 6 years of study). It’s not only because they want an educated person working there. Apparently there is a different path for getting a visa for people with more education. I think the idea is that they want to encourage people to get visas by making it easier.

As part of the process I sent the company a copy and translation of my Master’s degree. The translation has to be “official” of course, meaning it’s notarized and has an apostille (a stamp by the Secretary of State). Here is the problem.

The translation of the word “Master” on my degree was translated into “Maîtrise.” Fine, right? translate.google.com says that’s right, and so do lots of other places. Unfortunately, “Maîtrise” means high school plus 4 years of study. So the company contacted me to let me know that the translation was not acceptable. They could plainly see that the original degree says “Master” and that the translation says Maîtrise. Naturally, I contacted the translation service I used to request a more accurate translation. The response?

That is the correct translation. The word “Master” doesn’t exist in French dictionaries.

Technically they’re right about the dictionary. “Master” doesn’t appear in many French dictionaries online. Unfortunately, the word they used in the translation does have a different meaning than the original word. A simple search for French diploma equivalencies reveals that they do use the word “Master.” Apparently a google search wasn’t good enough for the translator. He eventually agreed to “not translate that part of the degree.”

This “translation” was apparently good enough for the company that wants to hire me. We’ll see if it actually works out that way.

Later I discovered that the word “Master” is in French dictionaries. It’s spelled “Mastère.” Needless to say, I am very displeased with my official translation.

For the record, here are some American and French diploma equivalents (roughly).

United States France
High School Diploma / GED Baccalauréat (aka “le bac”)
La licence (+3)
Bachelor’s Degree (+4) Maîtrise (+4)
Master / Mastère (+5)
Master’s Degree (+6)

To get a “certificate of comparability” of your degree,  which is probably better than a translation, visit http://www.ciep.fr/enic-naricfr/equivalence.php. Start early though, the process is supposed to take two to three months.

Sep 142011

I found a company that wants to hire me, so getting a visa should be easier right? Well, I guess. The French company does handle the first request for the visa. They have to provide proof that the position has been posted for a certain amount of time and has not been filled by a French citizen. They’ve also asked me to provide a birth certificate, photos (head-shots), and the typical copy of my passport. Some documents must be “officially” translated. After this I’ve heard I will still have to go to the appropriate french consulate in person to “apply” yet again. Then after arrival, of course, I will probably have to stop by the prefecture to actually get the document that I need to legally work there. What about my family?

What’s necessary for the family to come with you depends on who you ask. The Consul Général de Los Angeles says the following.

[…] it is imperative that the procedure of “accompanying family member” be started by the employer through the OFII along with the employee’s file

Thus, it’s implied that family members can receive a visa along with you, as long as they apply at the same time and are included in the initial request. It also says to the OFII (Office of Immigration and Integration) is who the request will go through. The OFII website says the following.

 Workers may submit an application for family members (spouse and minor children) under the family reunification procedure as soon as they can document 18 months of presence in France […]

So per the OFII website, it’s impossible to bring your family with you until you’ve already lived in France for 18 months. My future employer, however, says that they called the prefecture directly and that generally the application is done for the family members immediately and generally there is no reason that the application would not be approved. I assume this is the right answer, since I believe it’s actually the prefecture that makes the decisions, and since I imagine few people would want to move to France without being able to see their family for 18 months.

In any case, the “backup plans” available are to have the family members obtain a normal student visa or retirement visa via the appropriate french consulate. Ah yes, the horrible bureaucracy. Just a bunch of paperwork is one thing, but different requirements based on who you ask is ridiculous! 

Jul 282011

So for me, it was a lot easier than I thought to find a job. Granted, I haven’t actually signed a contract yet, but things are looking very good. Apparently technical jobs (i.e. in the Computer industry) are easier to find than other types of jobs (I’m a programmer).

To prepare for the interviews and to help review my résumé, I used verbalplanet.com to find a tutor and began taking private lessons once a week. This was definitely useful as I hadn’t really practiced speaking in quite a while. Also my résumé was full of errors before the tutor looked over it with me.

The first day after posting my résumé on a few websites, I received about eight responses from interested companies or recruiters. I am looking for work in a very specific location, so some of them I could respond to easily because the offers were in the wrong area. I can’t commute 2 hours to work everyday after all. Some others asked about my intentions and when I planned on moving to France. A few people were not interested in even interviewing me when they heard that we would have to do it over the phone or via Skype. In any case, I followed through on those that looked promising and I got a very good response from some of them. A couple companies have let me know that they want to hire and that they have started the necessary paperwork.

I haven’t actually received any paperwork yet though. Maybe there’s something else I’m not aware of, but I think it will work out. I heard from one company that I could do the second, technical interview yet because the person that I need to interview with is still on vacation. This makes sense to me as I’ve been watching the news at www.tf1.fr and for the last month they have covered vacations in some manner in every broadcast I have seen.

Through the interviews, some have told me that it only takes about a month to get a work permit in France and not three months, which is good and bad. We’ll have to speed up all of our moving plans and preparation. We’ll see how long it really takes.

I have to at least mention, since the associated image has technical terms in it, that I thought learning technical terms in French would be difficult. It turns out that as a programmer, many of the terms used are simply the English terms with a French accent. Good deal!

May 132011

The first thing to know is that in French a résumé is called a “CV” (curriculum vitae). The second thing to know is that unless you’re looking for some type of job which inherently uses your native language extensively, people will want to read your résumé in French. Not speaking French is a deal-breaker, of course. Imagine someone that only speaks French trying to work somewhere in the States!

Since you’re not a native speaker, you’ll need to include your skill level of French by including something like the following.


Lu, écrit, parlé

Langue maternelle

Here’s a basic guide to use as far as what proficiency you should list. [about.com]

*(Basic) knowledge – Notions
* Conversant – Maîtrise convenable, Bonnes connaissances
* Proficient – Lu, écrit, parlé
* Fluent – Courant
* Bilingual – Bilingue
* Native language – Langue maternelle

From what I’ve read, apparently it’s normal to include a photo at the top of the CV and personal hobbies or interests at the end of the CV. I’m not really sure what either of these things has to do with actual work or competence, but it does seem to exist in the example CV’s I found nonetheless. [examples 1]

Another necessity is your level of education. Here are some US and French equivalents, although there isn’t always an exact match. [edu 1, edu 2] A “High School diploma” in French is known as the Baccalauréat or simply the “Bac.”

American French
Kindergarten Maternelle (ages 3 to 6)
Elementary School (Primary School) École élémentaire (ages 6 to 11)
Middle School / Junior High Collège (ages 11 to 15)
High School Lycée (ages 15 to 18)
Bachelor’s degree Licence (3 years, aka bac + 3)
Master’s degree Master (5 years, aka bac + 5)
Doctorate Docatorate (bac + 6 to 8 years)


One of the best ways to learn is by example and to find example CV’s, simply head over to www.google.fr and type “exemple CV.” Adding your particular profession to the end would probably be helpful as well. Good luck!

References and Resources

The following were used for various information here.

about.com http://french.about.com/library/writing/bl-cv.htm Mostly useless (English)
examples 1 http://www.emploi-conseils.com/ Example CV’s (French)
edu 1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_France Education System info
edu 2 http://www.aunege.org/etudiants-en/becoming-a-student/lmd-bachelor2019s-master2019s-doctorate-system degree levels
Resource http://www.francparler.org/fiches/cv.htm des conseils sur le CV