Knowing how to write a resume in French is crucial if you’re looking for a job in France.
As a French coach, I understand that it can feel daunting to write a resume in a language that’s not your mother tongue.
In this article, you’ll learn how to write a resume in French to impress the recruiters.
Let’s get started!
What you need to know before you write your French resume
Before you start writing your resume, also known as Curriculum Vitae (CV) in France, here are a few important things to keep in mind.
Tips on how to write your resume in French
- Start from scratch. Don’t just translate your resume into French, hoping this might do the trick. While you’ll of course use a lot of the content from your original resume, you’ll have to take into account other factors as you’ll discover in this article.
- Sell yourself wisely. There’s no point in bragging about your “incredible people skills” in your French CV. In France, recruiters like facts, so make sure your resume is straight to the point.
- Even though you’ll need an eye-catching resume to stand out from the crowd, don’t try to make your French resume creative at all costs unless you’re a graphic designer or someone working in a similar field. Instead, your French CV should be a blend of sober creativity and easy information to absorb.
- Ask a native French speaker to read your French resume. Trust me, even French people ask their friends to proofread their CV!
Formatting your French resume
When it comes to your resume layout, here are some rules to follow.
- Your French CV shouldn’t be more than 1 page (A4), unless you have a long career behind you (and even then, it’s still best to be concise and target work experiences relevant to the job offer).
- Don’t mix more than 2 fonts and no more than 2-3 colors on your CV.
- Maintain the same spacing throughout your resume.
- Leave some empty white spaces. You don’t want your CV to feel too crowded. Make the reading experience as enjoyable as possible for the recruiter.
Now let’s see what you need to include in your French CV.
A French resume tends to include more personal information, unlike in other countries where this kind of details might not be appropriate.
This Personal information section usually takes the form of a header where you’ll put the following items.
First name and last name (prénom et nom de famille)
Make sure to write your last name in CAPITAL. This is especially useful if you think the recruiter will have difficulties distinguishing between your first and last names.
Home address (adresse)
Ideally, this should be an address in France. So if you already live in France or if you know where you’ll be living in France, put down your French home address.
Phone number (numéro de téléphone)
Make sure to put your mobile phone number, not your landline number! Recruiters might call you at that number and you wouldn’t want someone else to answer for you.
Don’t forget to put your country code at the beginning of the number, especially if you have a foreign mobile phone number.
Email address (adresse e-mail)
Your email address should look professional!
Don’t put something like “firstname.lastname@example.org” if you want to be taken seriously and get past the screening stage.
Putting your age on a CV is not mandatory, because it might be discriminatory.
However it’s still highly recommended!
Write your age directly to avoid any frustration for the recruiter. Don’t put your birth date, so the recruiter doesn’t waste time calculating your age.
Include a photo of yourself at the top of your resume!
While it might seem like a strange practice in your country, it’s highly encouraged in France.
Your picture will create a first connection with the recruiter who will be able to put a face to your name.
Make sure to use a good and professional picture of you (head and neck/shoulders only) facing the camera and smiling.
Do not put any picture that is not professional-looking. Images of you at the beach or at a party are forbidden. If you don’t have a good picture, then it’s better to not put any picture at all.
The recruiter needs to see at first glance that you are looking for a position that matches the job offer.
To do that, add a job title to your resume, relevant to the job offer you’re applying for.
For example, if you’re looking for a job in a translation agency, you might write Traducteur Technique (Technical translator).
That’s all the personal info you need to put in this section!
- Don’t put your marital status in your CV! Even though you might read on the Internet that you should, this is outdated information. I’ve never put it on my own resume and French recruiters have never asked me about it!
- Same thing goes for your nationality! It’s not necessary because the recruiter will understand by reading your CV that you’re not a native French person anyways.
In French, this section is called Expérience(s) professionnelle(s).
You can use the singular or plural form, as you wish.
Write your work experiences relevant to the position you are applying for, from the most recent to the least recent.
For each work experience, you need to include:
- The job title
- The company’s name and location
You can simply put the country the company is located in.
- The employment dates
The month and year are enough, no need to put the exact date you started or left. You can choose to write it as MM/YYYY or to spell out the month in letters. For example: Janvier 2018
- A brief description of your responsibilities
Make sure to use bullet points so it’s easy to read.
In this section, you can also write about your volunteer work, internship or military service if you don’t have a long career or are just fresh out of school.
Tip: If you already have some work experience, put this section before the Education section. If you’re looking for your first job or don’t have much experience yet, put the Work experience section after the Education section.
In French, this section is called Formation(s).
You can use the singular or plural form, just make sure to be consistent with the title of your Work experience section.
Write down your relevant degrees, certificates and diplomas, from the most recent to the least recent.
For each degree, you need to include:
- The title of the degree
- The school name and location
- The dates
- A brief description of relevant courses
If you don’t have much work experience yet, you can use bullet points to list your most relevant courses to show the recruiter you have the right kind of training for the job! If you already have a full Work experience section, you can skip this step.
Every country has its own system of education and grading, so you need to be very careful and use the correct French equivalent (or one that is as close as possible) to ensure the French recruiter fully understands the level of education you have.
You should only list your education from your high school diploma onwards. In French, this diploma is known as the Baccalauréat (Baccalaureate), or Bac for short, an exam French students pass at the end of high school, usually around 18 years old.
If the position you’re applying for is for an entry-level job, you will usually be required to have the Bac or Bac +2, +3, +4, +5, +8. Note that this is usually written on the job offer. Bac +(number) refers to the number of years you studied after you got your Bac.
Here’s a table of the different French education levels compared to countries such as the United Kingdom or the United States.
|Years after the Bac
|Diploma or degree in French
|High school diploma, A level
|BTS / DUT / IUT
|Higher National Diploma
|Bachelor’s degree, undergraduate
|First year of a master’s degree, graduate
|2nd year of a master’s degree, graduate
If you got your diploma or degree with honors, you can also mention it on your CV. Here are the equivalents in French.
|Mention Assez bien
|With honors / Cum Laude
|With high honors / Magna Cum Laude
|Mention Très bien
|With highest honors / Summa Cum Laude
Your skills on a French CV are usually divided into 2 sections: Langues (Languages skills) and Informatique (IT skills).
Rank your languages, from your mother tongue to your weakest language.
Make sure to name the language and your proficiency (be honest, the recruiter could check this out during your interview!).
For your mother tongue, write Langue maternelle.
For your other languages, you can indicate your level using A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 if you’re familiar with the Common Reference Levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
If you prefer, you can also describe your level in one word.
- From Débutant (Beginner – Typically A1, A2)
- To Intermédiaire (Intermediate – Typically B1, B2)
- To Avancé (Advanced – Typically C1, C2).
If you have proof of your proficiency, like a certificate or an official qualification, you can also mention it here.
Choose the IT skills that are most relevant to the position you’re applying for.
List the software you know how to use and indicate your level by using a progress bar or a star rating system (where 1 star would be the lowest level and 5 stars would be the highest).
This section is called Centres d’intérêts and it’s the easiest part of your French CV!
Don’t skip it, as it shows your personality to the recruiter… and who knows? Maybe you’ll hit it off with the recruiter with shared hobbies!
Keep this section short: 2-3 hobbies are enough.
Include only hobbies that:
- Show you in your best light
- Showcase a specific ability that matches the job position
- Help you stand out from the crowd.
And be specific!
For example, if you play a team sport (which unconsciously tells the recruiter you’re a team player), don’t just write Sport. What kind of sport? How long have you been playing?
Be honest as the recruiter might talk to you about your hobbies during your interview!
The bottom line
Now you know exactly how to write a resume in French.
You want to take it further? Get your step-by-step guide on how to write an irresistible French application (resume and cover letter) easily from start to finish!