My father used to repeat this idea over and over again, whenever the subject was being launched over a traditional Romanian lunch, that stretches over more than 6 hours and a dozen spritzers, per person: “You are pretty naive to allege this European Union and Romania’s integration into it. What do you expect to gain? Listen to me, for what it’s worth in the big European house there are some countries who own the penthouse, and some, that, if they were to get lucky enough, they’ll get to clean the toilets and bum in the closet”.
Well I couldn’t find it more embarrassing in my adolescent years whenever this topic was brought upon, as a clouded fatal sign over the future of “these children of ours” and words can hardly emphasize the conflictual state of mind of the “passage generation(s)”.
Now I’ll just fast forward to last year, when I permanently moved to Paris to join my own self made family here. Frankly I never paid too much attention to legal details of my transition, „because we’re all European citizens, right? And we are to be proud of this amazing freedom we’ve been blessed with. I’ll also have to mention that I never was too eager to leave Romania, even though I had multiple opportunities in the past: possessing the German high school diploma, that allows me a place in a German university.
I had the privilege to work for more than 4 years in a top software corporation and thus have build a strong confidence, HR knowledge, international sales experience and some relevant knowledge of the German IT&C market. Also please consider the huge advantage in this case study: I was already married with a French citizen and having an offspring born with French citizenship.
6 months before leaving Bucharest I’ve bombed dozens of companies with a cocky corporate resume, created a candidate profile on 3 international well known job research websites and stretched all my connections for references and Parisian opportunities.
The real pain was the lack of EMEA (Europe, Middle-East and Africa) jobs in Paris! “Notre organisation est franco-française” meaning that my native German language skills and the advanced English level didn’t count too much, if my French wasn’t perfect, handicapping my chances against 80% of the French population with superior education, which statistically lives in Paris and its suburbs.
And then I moved and soon it became more and more evident that I’d have to give in to a lot of discounts not only from my dream job, as I pictured it roughly, but also from my past job: distance (Paris has some lovely subway and RER landscapes), salary, lowering to more junior tasks, changing the industry and markets, working shifts … and it’s kind of enough I would say.
4 months after my arrival I was signing a great contract with the only company who had accepted my profile. Nevertheless a good recommendation persuaded the CEO to create this position for me. A great opportunity and a unique chance! The industry has indeed changed somehow in my employer‟s profile from the computer software to new media adult entertainment. My guess at that time was that politics are much more perverted than this industry, so I went for it. It puts good food on the table.
It was a shiny Indian summer day last September 27th when I was going out of my employers building with a signed working contract, enabling me to work as off the 1st of October. Shortly after it got cloudier than ever expected.
The French state represented by the prefecture of the suburb we’ve been living in, declared my actions illegal and the employer’s commitment to employment as well. For Romania and Bulgaria and some other of the new European states, their status allows a free circulation on French territory for their citizens but the working rights are subject of an 8 to 12 months debate and to be granted by the French police. If you have the misfortune to live in a suburb that has a lot of African, Asian, Arab or other Eastern-European immigrants the hardcore level grows considerably. The access hours are limited to about 2/day, you stand in line from 5 am and you get your chance to sustain your application in a couple of weeks, depending on your skills to cut in line. I was still able to smile while remembering how bread and milk were purchased under Ceausescu’s regime. I had a good boot camp training shopping them as a kid for my grandparents. And if you manage to get your ticket in line, you better not have forgotten any “essential” papers, or you’ll do this loop again and again until you get it all right, and believe me there is always some paper missing. But then again, while you are in there you only think about yourself and if you see someone failing an interview from the first questions, referring to the reasons of why they want to work in this European state, you realize that a small part of you is rejoicing in the hope, that you’ll get your chance to deposit the papers that very day.
The bottom line is that once an employer gets to accept your profile on the job, and if you manage to crack one of the toughest HR markets, both you and your employer have to wait from 8 to 12 months, while your reasons to work in a European country are subjected to a strict debate. Sometimes you get a short time waiver from one interview to another, this being mostly the case for those who live in Paris and not in its suburbs and have an obvious reason to work there.
That’s a great way to fight the black market and the toilet jobs in this European house my father was talking about, wouldn’t you say so? In any case it’s a hot topic in France for some years now especially for the 2nd or 3rd generation of emigrants from the French colonies that have to accept the same low job expectations.
Nevertheless no despair is needed. If you arm yourselves with some good financial resources to survive the months of job search, patience, good luck and, why not, relations and references you’ll get through. But how many can afford all these resources?
So what happened? I got the job and multiple working permit waivers. Due to my condition here, I also finally earned the permit.
Oh and the job! Well I changed it in the end 6 months later and got a position in an ambitious start-up, selling a clever piece of technology into the German markets. 18 months after: finally a dream job!