Whatever petty trade hunting
I survived somehow the three-month waiting period for the income support benefits. Once the RSA obtained, the first pieces of the puzzle started to gather together. Still my family couldn’t cope with the basic RSA (786 EUR, 840 USD) but my target was to optimize the benefits by taking a poorly paid petit boulot part time to qualify for a complementary RSA.
The system is made to encourage poor people to work even with an insufficient salary. In fact, many employers know that they can pay a lousy salary and count on the public assistance to cover the rest. As a result, one can get the same or even more than working full time and getting the national minimum wage called the SMIC.
Fuck or starve
I was carefully avoiding the worst trap ever: a full time petty trade job with a minimum salary. One doesn’t earn enough to buy food and pay the bills but at the same time it’s enough that all social benefits are out of reach. Also, in my case, it didn’t make sense to hire a full time nanny and pay her the minimum salary equal to my monthly earnings. With only one child I was already excluded from any child benefit. That’s a French exception. That’s how the government smoothly encourages their citizens to make more kids: fuck or starve.
There are two job markets in France: the serious one and the whatever-petty-trade one. If you are looking for a serious executive position, keep in mind that companies are not in a hurry in hiring employees. If you have your first interview in March, there is no chance to be hired before September. First of all, bosses are busy find it hard to fix an appointment. Also, they can postpone it several times. The May is skipped because of the numerous bank holidays and nothing is happening during the school summer vacation either. That’s why, in the meantime, many expats fall into the whatever-job-but-fast market.
I start sending job applications by downplaying my university degrees. It was quite easy to change the my previous positions from manager to secretary and from superior to assistant. I was well aware that usually job hunters do this in the opposite way, by transforming internships to real jobs and tele-operator experience to call center manager positions.
The first company that contacted “the professionally new me” for an interview was collecting and recycling precious dental metal waste. No salary was offered but there were commissions according to how much extracted teeth or fillings one could gather. They asked me to make a try. The job was about making phone calls all day long to dentists in different countries and proposing to buy their metal waste. Their phone numbers were previously collected in a database. I started with energy but soon realized that no German dentist spoke French or English and my German was a bit rusty. At the end of the day I hadn’t purchased any waste, just wasted my time and a two way RER ticket to a Paris suburb area where the company was located.