If you’re looking to find a job in France, then the chances are you’ll need to write a CV in French and ensure that you comply with the standard norms of CV writing in France. Naturally, the language is the first obstacle that you might find challenging, though it’s not the only thing that may be different from the type of CV you are used to writing.
Even if the French company to which you send your CV is an international company, sending a CV in French could be an extra special touch and help you get your foot in the door. There is always the possibility of attaching two CVs, should the job role require fluency in two languages.
Note that a CV is called a CV in French and not un résumé which is a false friend and means summary. The English word curriculum vitae (abbreviated CV) derives from Latin, signifying the course of a person’s life, and as a consequence, is used in many other European languages as well, such as in French.
Personalising a CV and making it your own can be done regardless of the language of the CV, but bear in mind that you still need to format and write your CV in a way that suits your personal profile.
Writing a French CV can be made easy with online platforms such as OnlineCV, which not only guides you in the creation of your CV but also provides you with multiple CV templates and a multi-language button enabling you to create a CV in French, English, Spanish and more. View French CV examples to inspire the creation of your own CV and create your professional CV.
How to write a CV in French
While you might find that writing a CV in French is reasonably similar to CVs that you are used to writing, you may come across a couple of things which seem unusual or different.
An example of this might be the fact that the French choose to include a photo in their CVs or that more detailed personal information is listed on a French CV, such as marital status or age.
All countries have different CV writing customs, so be mindful of literal translation and the damage it can do to your French job application. If you know someone with a good level of French, ask them to read your French CV and point out any mistakes or areas where you could make your CV stronger.
French CV layout and sections
Knowing what to write and where can be tricky when you are used to other CV layouts. This part of our French CV writing guide explains which sections of a French CV you should put where and what to include in each section.
Remember: Simply translating your CV into French may seem like an easier idea, but it could result in misunderstandings and confusion, consequently weakening your job application. Literal translations can sometimes be misleading!
Personal details (informations personnelles/situation personnelle et état civil)
As mentioned above, the French get slightly more personal on CVs compared to the average English CV. This might seem slightly invasive if you are used to CVs with less personal details but be rest assured that all jobseekers in France include the following information on their French CV:
Personal details (informations personnelles)
- Last name – nom de famille (preferably in capital letters)
- First name – prénom
- Email address – adresse email
- Mobile number – numéro de portable
- Home number – numéro de domicile
- Address – adresse
- Date and place of birth – date et lieu de naissance
- Age – âge
- Nationality – nationalité
Personal and marital status (Situation personnelle et état civil)
- Single – célibataire
- Married – marié(e)
- Separated – séparé(e)
- Divorced – divorcé(e)
- Widowed – veuf (veuve)
If you feel uncomfortable stating your marital status, age or other information, simply choose to miss it out on your CV. However, in the event of interviews, be prepared to answer these questions should interviewers ask you.
It is common to include a passport-sized photo in the top corner of your CV in French. View French CV examples to get an idea of the types of professional photos you can include on a CV and which photos are adequate for a CV in French.
Objective (project professionnel or objectif)
Similar to a CV objective, you can opt to include an objective on your French CV which will inform recruiters of your characteristics, skills and career objectives in a short paragraph.
This can be a good method for strengthening your job application and summarising your strong points which will also grab recruiters’ attention before reading the rest of your CV.
Your academic background on a CV is taken very seriously when applying for a job in France. In fact, France is one of the European countries which is most interested in the education section of a CV.
Companies scan your education and pay attention to detail. It’s a good idea to include all academic qualifications, from GCSEs to degrees and diplomas.
Grades and academic qualifications on a CV in French might be difficult to explain if you went to school outside France, so an option is writing equivalent qualifications and grades in French to help recruiters understand better.
Here are some academic equivalents for UK qualifications:
GCSEs – le brevet
A Levels – le baccalauréat
Degree – diplôme
1st – mention très honorable
2:1 – mention bien
2:2 – mention assez bien
Bachelor’s degree – baccalauréat universitaire
Master’s – maîtrise (four years at university) master (five years at university)
Master of Science – MSc or maîtrise ès sciences
Master of Art – maîtrise universitaire ès lettres
PhD – doctorat
It’s a good idea to make your qualifications and grades understandable due to the high importance that the education section plays in a French CV and recruitment in France.
Work experience (expérience professionnelle)
As opposed to the work experience section on an English CV, on a French CV you need only list your job title, the company and employment dates. However, French CV examples may differentiate now that CVs, their designs and content vary much more than before, so you might find that adding some bullet points with tasks or responsibilities you had at your old job is beneficial to your job application.
It’s necessary to list your work experience in a reverse chronological order on a French CV. This is a common CV formatting rule which is not only in France but in many countries around the world. Listing your work experience in this way enables the hiring manager to view how you have progressed professionally in a neat and organised format.
You can separate your skills on a CV in French, as many find that languages, computer skills and so forth require their own section. This can be helpful when applying for a job in a particular field with a requirement for a specific set of skills.
Computer skills (connaissances informatiques)
Most office jobs require knowledge of computer skills to some extent, if not a specific specialisation for certain jobs. Choose whether to list your computer skills on your French CV and whether it is a relevant section that links well to the job application.
Languages are a transferable skill which benefit any job. Listing languages on a CV is always a positive aspect which strengthens your job application. Even if the job for which you are applying doesn’t specify the requirement to know other languages, it’s a valuable and impressive skill which is very advantageous on a CV.
Tips for writing the best French CV
For extra advice on CV writing in French, read our tips:
- Your CV should be no longer than two A4 pages
- Don’t abbreviate place names or terms which may be culture-specific and therefore difficult to recognise on an international scale
- Consider attaching a CV in another language if fluency in another language is required
- Proofread your CV in French for mistakes and then ask a native speaker to have a look at it, in case you’ve missed or misunderstood something
View French CV samples to get a better idea of the type of CV you would like to create. This can help you to remember about elements you may not have considered or forgotten to include.