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July 22, 2012

At Cross-Culture: The Great French Dream?

See Rebecca Penna's post "Is there such a thing as the French Dream?" at Richard Lewis's Cross-Culture.

...change is definitely on France’s agenda. The recent electoral swing to the left has generated new hope for many, in spite of many of the unpopular changes and reforms that Hollande and his government are about to put into place.

Irrespective of their political beliefs, most of my entourage is relieved to see the back of Sarkozyism and as one person put it, unlike Sarkozy, Hollande actually went to political school so he knows how to govern. This is one of the first cultural gulfs I had to deal with when arriving in France that bounces back at me time and time again. In other words, if you went to the right school, you’re fit for the job. You can have all the potential in the world, but if you don’t have the qualifications, your skills and experience are worth little unless you are given the opportunity to prove otherwise.

And in the employment context I think this still rings very true today. An American friend of mine went for an interview recently at a recruitment agency. When asked what kind of job she would like to apply for, given her experience in a number of senior positions spanning over a 20 year career in France, she explained that there are any number of positions she could fill.

Launching into a justification of the unstable job market today the recruiter explained: “employers are taking fewer and fewer risks and are therefore clinging more and more onto the qualifications of their potential employees as a reliable form of employability. And because of this you don’t really fit into any one particular position.”

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Posted by JD Hull at July 22, 2012 03:45 PM


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