Top Tips for Getting Bar Work in France
Global economic concerns have made employment conditions in some nations fairly difficult, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on your expat dream.
If there aren’t any sector-specific employment opportunities available in the area you’re hoping to move to, you have to weigh up the pros and cons of the move and decide whether relocating is important enough to warrant a career change.
We’re not saying that scientists should suddenly decide to be aerobics instructors on a whim, but it is important to remember that there are work options out there if you’re willing to think outside the box.
As France is a nation with a strong tourist industry, many expatriates find that they are able to secure employment in bars and restaurants. While this might not be the career you dreamed of, it’s a great way of getting to know an area and its local people, as well as an opportunity to polish your language skills and earn the money you need to support yourself overseas. Furthermore, employment in the hospitality industry is often seasonal, meaning you could find work for a couple of months and make sure the French lifestyle really is for you before you make the move permanent.
And if you’ve got your heart set on advancing your career in a certain sector, you can always look for appropriate positions once you’re settled in France. Earning money through bar or restaurant work will mean that you have the time to look around and find the right job without a lack of funds pressuring you into taking anything that comes along, or worse, forcing you to give up and go home.
However, if you’re thinking that working in a bar or restaurant will be an easy gig, think again. It’s hard work, and there are definite skills and attribute’s you will need in order to do it successfully.
So if you’d like to give it a go here are our top tips!
Have accommodation lined up
Potential employers will expect you to be able to provide them with an address where they can contact you, and couch-surfing or sleeping in a hostel may give off the impression that you aren’t going to be reliable. Of course, you don’t want to tie yourself into a lengthy rental contract before you’ve found work, but you can lease many rental properties for periods of one to three months. Once you have employment and know what your income is going to be you can arrange longer-term accommodation.
Personality is Essential
When working in a bar or restaurant, being presentable and possessing the ability to interact enthusiastically with the public are key attributes. Rather than sending out dozens of anonymous emails, get out there and find work by knocking on doors and asking if there’s anything available. That way you are more likely to make a good and lasting impression on a potential employer. It will also give you the opportunity to assess the establishment, and decide whether it’s the kind of place you’d like to work before you commit yourself to an interview.
Language skills are a bonus
If you’re trying to get work in an establishment frequented by locals, you will be expected to have a fairly solid grasp of French, otherwise reading menus and taking orders will be pretty tricky! However, even if you’re looking for a job in an expat bar or restaurant, don’t assume that you’ll be able to get away with speaking no French at all. While many of the staff in expat bars speak English the majority of the time, with employment conditions getting tougher the ability to speak some basic French can really set you apart from your peers.
Appreciate Cultural Differences
You may be used to the way bars and restaurants operate back home, but remember that the French have a distinctive mentality when it comes to drinking. In France alcohol is to be savoured and enjoyed. While the pace of drinking can be rapid in some places (such as nightclubs, or places which attract a young crowd) service may be a little slow in others. You may also want to do a little reading up on French wines so you have some understanding of what’s being ordered and can learn to appreciate local favourites.
There’s nothing worse than a sour-faced barman. Unless it’s a sour-faced waitress. In the hospitality and service industry a smile really does go a long way, and if you want to get as much out of the job as you can, having the right attitude is essential. By being friendly, polite and engaging customers in conversation you can impress your employers, make new friends and even make contacts who could be of help to you later on.