VMA GROUP expanded into Paris earlier this year in response to the advancement of communications in the country. In fact, according to a survey of professionals working in the region, 60 per cent of respondents foresee that the corporate communications discipline will continue to grow in not only size, but also importance in the immediate future.
Local legislation means that the French labour market is more restricted than many other regions we operate in. There are two main types of contract: the CDI, Contract Durée Indeterminée, (open-ended contract) and the CDD, Contract Durée Determinée (fixed-term contract), which has to be drawn up in the cases and under the conditions provided for by the law. Fixed-term contracts are only permitted in special cases, such as to replace a temporarily absent employee or to meet a temporary increase in the employer’s activity.
Against this backdrop it is unsurprising that the majority of recruitment in the area is for permanent roles. This ‘high-risk’ legislative landscape also has a knock-on effect on recruitment processes, which typically take around three to six months to complete. When compared to the UK, there are usually more deciding factors, and more decision makers. Notice periods for anything but the most junior of roles are usually three months minimum, which must also be taken into account.
This somewhat inflexible labour market, where ‘indefinite’ contracts are commonplace, is a topic that was high on the agenda at the recent Le Cercle des Economistes conference. Experts are divided as to whether more flexibility would lead to an increase in job creation to boost the economy, or simply have a negative impact on remuneration.
Salaries in France tend to be slighter lower than the UK, but this is relative to the living costs in Paris compared to London. Remuneration packages offered by international companies operating in the country tend to be higher than those offered by local businesses.
In my experience, a greater importance is placed on education on the French market, with many professionals holding MAs and MBAs, and hiring managers being more stringent on the level of education they require from an employee across all levels. Since higher education is subsidised by the state, this is more affordable than other countries. Culturally, French companies are traditionally more hierarchical than their UK counterparts, with greater formality in how junior staff address their managers. According to a report on national competitiveness by the World Economic Forum, the French workforce has a much stronger work ethic than American, British or Dutch employees.
Looking specifically at the communications market, our recent Paris Communications Study found that, when asked how satisfied they were in their current role, almost half of all respondents reported that they were either ‘neutral’ or ‘not satisfied’. This widespread nonchalance towards their current roles perhaps explains why over half of those surveyed said they intend to move jobs within the next twelve months. Furthermore, 90 per cent of respondents – although not necessarily actively looking for work – would be open to moving if the right role presented itself.
When you consider that Paris is a global hub for international business, the growth in importance of the communications function is perhaps unsurprising. It is interesting, however, that junior to mid-level roles in the French capital remain less generalist than other markets despite the trend towards more generalist communicators, whilst the need for a strategic, visionary, leader overseeing a team of niche specialists is developing further within the structure of Paris-based communications teams. Feedback from respondents suggests that this structural model has organically developed so that silos are avoided and communication departments can effectively meet the current and future needs of their organisations.
Although still of great importance, social media in recruitment remains just one tool for candidates and clients alike, with local or personal networks playing a greater role in a candidate’s job-hunt than you would find on other markets and in the UK for instance. Of course, roles will usually still be advertised on social platforms, but a high number of candidates continue to come through more traditional channels and some roles will not be as openly advertised as you would find elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if this develops in the coming years, but whatever the method of recruitment, it is clear that there will be a continuing need for specialist recruiters in the region to manage the needs of an ambitious and expanding communications sector.
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