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How to write a CV in French?

Writing a CV in French: beware of the differences

Does the company or you're applying to require a CV in French? First of all, you need to know that French CVs do not follow the same rules as other CVs.

Beware of copy-and-paste transcriptions! A literal translation of your French CV using an online tool will not help you at all- on the contrary. Each language and culture has its own specificities, and you need to pay particular attention to the differences that this implies.

French, English, and American CVs: what are the differences?

Even though English, and American speakers share the same language, there are distinct standards when it comes to curriculum vitae. In terms of tone, American CVs tend to be attention-grabbing. Conversely, the English CV is more similar to the French version, adopting a less promotional tone, even though the details of your accomplishments certainly have their place.

Regarding format, in the United States, it's common for a CV to be limited to one page (similar to Switzerland). In England, two pages are generally acceptable, but rarely more. And in France, CVs might extend to multiple pages, especially if the candidate has extensive work experience, so make sure to research the linguistic conventions they prefer.

In English, Cvs are usually written in the Past tense. If you're writing a CV in French, you shoud use infinitives to describe your responsibilities rather than the past or present tense to keep it factual.

Lastly, it goes without saying that errors should be avoided in your French CV. Avoid using abbreviations as these will most probably be unfamiliar to French employers.

Avoid these critical errors on your French CV

Just like with other CVs, there are some major mistakes you should avoid if you're aiming for success. Recruiters are very observant, and it would be a shame to be excluded from the recruitment process over something that could've been easily avoided.

Date formatting differences:

Dates are different in the United States compared to the UK, but when it comes to French, it's more like the UK style.

  • In the United States: July, 17, 2020 or 07-17-20
  • In the UK: 17 July 2020 or 17th July 2020 or 17-07-20
  • In France/Switzerland: 17 juillet 2020 of 17-07-20

Have too many skills in the experience section

If you include too many skills in your CV, the ones that matter will be lost in the crowd. So try to tailor your resume to each job offer by selecting the most relevant skills for the role. Then you can organise your skills by groups, so it will look clearer and will be easier to read.

The right way to write a French CV

To help you get the job of your dreams, here's a typical outline for a French CV.

Personal details (Données personnelles)

  • Full name and date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • A professional photograph

Profile (Profil)

  • As in other CVs, this section is designed to introduce you and your career plans. Why are you applying?

Professional experience (Expérience professionnelle)

In this part, it is recommended that you add all pertinent work experiences related to the job you are seeking. You can add this information either in reverse chronological order or by levels of significance and relevance to the specific role. Outline the responsibilities that you had for each role to reinforce your job application.

Job type vocabulary

  • An internship: un stage
  • A part-time job: un travail à mi-temps
  • A full-time job: un travail à temps plein
  • Temporary work: intérim

Education/qualifications (Études/diplômes)

This section is to provide your employer with details of your education.

  • High school diploma: Baccalauréat
  • BA: Licence
  • MA: Master
  • PHD: Doctorat
  • Honors / with honors: Avec mention

Skills and languages (Compétences et langues)

In this section, you can specify all your skills. This can be your proficency for languages, writing, project management, use of specific software, etc. This section is of particular interest to recruiters, as it allows them to compare the different qualifications of candidates. For you, it's an opportunity to stand out from the crowd, by choosing skills that can bring real added value to the post you're applying for and, ultimately, to the company.

Miscellaneous (Divers)

Here you can mention anything that doesn't fit into the other categories. An outside activity? A hobby? A portfolio?

Your references (Références)

To support your application, it is advised to have three references included on your CV (e.g. former manager). They must provide thier full contact details and must be willing to provide references to you when requsted by the employers.

Bonne chance !

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