A guide to writing a French-style CV and cover letter, as well as job interview tips, to increase the chances of landing a job in France.

The job search in France takes time. Once you’ve found a French job you’re interested in, it’s critical to present your cover letter and curriculum vitae (CV) in the format that French interviewers expect to increase your chances of being hired. Because the term résumé simply means ‘summary’ in French, the term’ un CV’ or ‘un curriculum vitae’ is more commonly used in France.

There is more to writing un curriculum vitae Français than simply translating your home country’s CV; by presenting the skills in a French-style CV, you can increase your chances of finding work in France. In order to avoid making behavioral mistakes during a French job interview, you’ll also need to know what to expect. Here are some pointers on how to apply for jobs in France.

Jobs In France: The Application

You can apply for a French job via email, an online application process, or by mailing your CV.

Write Your Application In French Or English

Send your CV and cover letter in the language of the job advertisement. You’ll almost certainly need to prepare a French CV and cover letter. Even for multilingual positions, you may be required to provide both.

If you’re applying in French, have a native speaker proofread your CV and cover letter before submitting it to ensure there are no grammatical or spelling errors.

Writing A French-Style CV

Keep a formal and concise CV. If you’re applying for a senior position, limit your application to two or three sides of A4. Keep it to one side if it’s a junior position. Begin by providing your full name, address, phone number, email address, age, and marital status. The surname comes before the first name in France. Be forthright about your nationality. Mention whether or not you have a French work permit.

Include a professional project, which is a few lines that summarise who you are and what you want to achieve. List your professional experience or work experience in reverse chronological order. Provide the employer’s name, including the sector if it is a foreign company. This is followed by bullet points for each responsibility.

Following that is education or formation. List all educational accomplishments, including industry certificates and training; in France, educational qualifications are highly valued. If education is your strong suit, put it first. Then there are “langues”. Highlight your abilities in detail, particularly if you are multilingual. For others, specify your mother tongue and your level of proficiency, including any French courses you’re taking. Don’t put a lot of faith in your French.

Include technical skills under “informatique”.

Finally, include any hobbies under centres d’intérêt, particularly if they are related to the job. Prepare to discuss them during an interview. Professional memberships should be listed in the appropriate section. Be truthful. Don’t assume that because a company is foreign, they won’t check. Although it is not required, many French employers expect a passport-sized photo to accompany the CV. Select a headshot that conveys professionalism and is appropriate for the position. Avoid the temptation to eat a group shot.

There are several online tools available to assist you in improving your French CV, including:

  • Canva – has many CV templates and can help you to design a resume with an attractive layout.
  • Europass – provides French CV templates.
  • Resume.io – has CV and cover letter templates to simplify the application process.
  • TopCV – an online CV-checking service

French-Style Cover Letter

You can type the cover letter, or une lettre de motivation, or write the letter by hand on good quality writing paper with an ink pen – some French companies use graphologists to analyze handwriting to evaluate candidates. In the top left corner, write your name and address, and in the top right corner, write the name and address of the person handling your application, as well as a job reference, if you have one.

The letter should be brief, with no more than 15 to 20 lines. Showcase your most recent work experience. Explain why you are the best choice for the job using specific examples.

Please do not enclose references or educational certificates; you can bring these to the interview. However, according to a study conducted by The Society for Human Resource Management, references are among the top three selection strategies used by hiring managers when selecting suitable candidates for various roles. Cleverism.com can assist you in gathering job references.

French Job Interviews And The Selection Procedure

For some jobs, attending up to four job interviews is standard in France. For French job interviews, you should do your research on the company and position you’re applying for ahead of time, as well as be familiar with French employment jargon such as CDIs (permanent contracts) and CDDs (temporary contracts). Arrive on time, know your CV from cover to cover, be prepared to explain how your experience relates to the job, and have a few questions prepared for the interviewers.

In addition to your experience and skills, French interviewers will consider your personality. An interview, for example, may include psychological testing, or you may be asked to write a brief motivational letter by hand so that a graphologist can assess your personality and advise the job interviewers on your suitability for the position. Most jobs will require you to demonstrate that you speak fluent French.

Be respectful of French business culture, which is typically hierarchical. Interviews in France are typically quite formal; don’t expect a joke or small talk to put you at ease. Don’t make jokes or overly familiar comments, and avoid using slang or informal conjugations. It will not come across as friendly but rather unprofessional. Be courteous and upbeat but not arrogant.

French CV In English 1

French Interview Tips

  • You should dress and groom appropriately.
  • Respectfully address the interviewer as Monsieur or Madam.
  • Even if the interviewer is younger or the same age as you, always use vous rather than tu. Wait for an invitation to tutoyer from the interviewer.
  • Shake hands when greeting; no kissing in interviews.
  • You must not sit until you are invited.
  • Prepare to be asked personal questions, such as whether you’re married or planning to have children.
  • Please do not interrupt the interviewer.
  • Don’t berate former employers.
  • Don’t be tempted to lie about previous jobs because they were in a different country. French interviewers can and will occasionally email or call to confirm.
  • Give examples to demonstrate your accomplishments.
  • Bring copies of your references and educational credentials.
  • If you’ve mentioned your hobbies on your CV, be prepared for questions about them.

French CV Template In English

Denis Cramer

1160 Eglinton Avenue

Toronto, ON M4P 1A6

+1-416-250-572-4916

denis.cramer@gmail.com

linkedin.com/in/denis.cramer

Social Media Specialist

Profile

Specialist in social networks and community manager for more than five years, I have planned and carried out communication campaigns that have contributed to increasing the engagement and conversion rate of the audience. At 4shared, I notably enabled the company to see its online engagement increase by 13% per publication thanks to a strategic analysis of the Instagram account. In the role of social media manager, I hope to bring the community my ability to create a community from scratch and my data analysis skills, with the aim of growing your number of followers and creating powerful content.

Professional experience

Janvier 2017 – Aujourd’hui

Social Media Specialist

4Shares, Toronto, ON

  • Managed the client’s Instagram accounts (increased engagement rate per post by 13%).
  • Moderate comments and engage in discussions with the community.
  • Conduct advertising campaigns on Instagram (on accounts with more than 2000 followers).
  • Develop a sustainable communication strategy, and establish a communication style and an online brand image.

Mai 2015 – Décembre 2017

Junior Social Media Specialist

LoggedIn, Toronto, ON

  • Analyze and report on the main objectives of the company’s social media strategy (engagement, subscribers, prospects, etc.).
  • Create content for Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok accounts.

Training

Septembre 2013 – Juin 2015

Maîtrise sciences de la communication

Université de Toronto, Toronto, ON

Septembre 2010 – Juin 2013

Baccalauréat de créativité, innovation et entrepreneuriat

Université de Toronto, Toronto, ON

Skills

  • Social media management
  • Communication strategy
  • Online Advertising
  • Data analysis
  • Online community building
  • Market research
  • Brand image

Computer Science

  • Sprout Social
  • Hootsuite
  • Google Analytics
  • BuzzSumo
  • Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter
  • Asana

Languages

  • English (mother tongue)
  • French (advanced, level C1)

Interests

  • Literature (notably Leïla Slimani)
  • Management of my personal Instagram account on the theme of literary criticism (2360 subscribers)

How To Write A French CV

So you’re considering applying for jobs in France? Great! It’s time to polish your resume. Employers may request your résumé in English, French, or both, depending on the job you are applying for. You could directly translate the one you have, but it is typically better to start from scratch because the content requirements differ. We will help you go through all the steps of creating an outstanding French résumé in this section.

French CV In English 2

Structure Your CV For French Employers

Employers in France do not value over-selling themselves. While a British or American résumé may mention your “outstanding people skills,” a French CV is more factual and to the point. Furthermore, résumés in France tend to include more personal information, such as nationality, marital status, and date of birth, whereas, in many other countries, this would be inappropriate.

Here’s a rundown of what you’ll need to write in each section:

Head-Shot

A photo of yourself is encouraged in France, as it is in many other European countries. To the top of your CV, include a passport-sized, professional-looking headshot.

Présentation

Put your name, nationality, date of birth, and contact information in a clear list format in the first section of your résumé. If you want, you can include a couple of sentences summarising your qualities underneath, but this can also be saved for your application’s cover letter.

Formation

Summarize your educational background from most recent to least recent. Include the names of the schools, qualifications, grades, and dates. Make it as simple as possible for the employer to read through your application and quickly locate all relevant information.

Expérience Professionnelle

List all of your professional experience, beginning with the most recent and ending with the least. Include the names of the companies, dates, and a brief portion of your position and responsibilities in each job.

Compétences Spécifiques

What skills do you possess that would be useful in the workplace? Include information about your language abilities, IT skills, and any other qualifications you possess.

Centres d’intérêts

Write a little about yourself. What are your interests? What are some of your most notable personal or extracurricular accomplishments? Mention some examples to demonstrate to the employer that you are a well-rounded, interesting person.

French CV In English 3

French Translations Of Main Words

To assist you in translating your CV into French, we have provided a list of frequently used words in a French CV below.

General Terms

  • Education – Formation scolaire
  • Training, course – Formation qualifiante
  • Certificate, Degree – Diplôme
  • Skills – Compétences
  • Professional experiences – Expériences professionnelles
  • Interests, hobbies – Centres d’intérêts, loisirs
  • Interview – Entretien, entretien d’embauche

Language Skills

  • Language skills – Compétences linguistiques\
  • Mother tongue, native language, native speaker – Langue maternelle Fluent, near-native – Courant\
  • Proficient, advanced – Très bonne maîtrise\
  • Intermediate – Niveau intermédiaire\
  • Basic, elementary – Niveau élémentaire Reading – Lu\
  • Written language, writing – Écrit\
  • Spoken language, speaking, verbal communication – Parlé

Profile Text

  • Eager to learn, curious, studious – Studieux
  • Motivated, eager – Motivé
  • Sensitive – Sensible
  • Leadership, taking the lead, giving direction, managing, to run – Capacité à manager
  • Communicative – Communicant
  • Stress-proof, stress-resistant, able to work under pressure Capacité à travailler sous pression
  • Result oriented, focus on results – Porté sur les résultats
  • Reliable, trustworthy – Fiable Confident – Confiant
  • Client-friendly, customer-oriented – Qualités relationnelles avec les clients
  • Knowledgeable – Connaissances

Personal Information

  • Personal, personal details – Informations personnelles
  • First name – Prénom
  • Surname, last name, the family name – Nom de famille
  • Email, email address – Email
  • Telephone, telephone number, phone number – Numéro de téléphone
  • Address – Adresse
  • Postal code, zip code, postcode – Code postal
  • Street name, road name – Nom de rue
  • Place of residence, city, town – Lieu de résidence
  • Date of birth, birth date – Date de Naissance
  • Place of birth, birthplace – Lieu de Naissance
  • Gender, sex – Sexe
  • Marital status – Situation familiale
  • Nationality – Nationalité

Professional experience

  • Work experience, career summary, work history – Expérience Professionnelle
  • Role, position – Poste
  • Currently, present, current position, “year/date” onwards – En cours
  • Outline, role description/summary – Description du poste
  • Responsibilities, key responsibilities – Responsabilités
  • Achievements, accomplishments – Résultats / Réussites

Common Professions/Jobs

  • Cashier, checkout girl/boy – Caissier
  • Sales representative, sales employee – VRP
  • Stock clerk, shelf stacker – Magasinier
  • Customer service representative, customer service agent – Agent de service à la clientèle
  • Driver – Chauffeur
  • Hospitality – Métiers de l’hôtellerie
  • Waiter, waitress – Serveur / serveuse
  • Construction worker, builder – Ouvrier du bâtiment
  • Carpenter – Charpentier
  • Mechanic – Mécanicien

Education

School education is the most difficult to translate because school systems are as numerous as countries! As a result, it is rare to get an exact translation for every course you have taken or the diploma you have obtained. However, some translations of commonly used words on a French CV are provided below:

  • Education – Formation
  • Internship, traineeship, work placement – Stage
  • Primary school – École primaire
  • Secondary school – Collège
  • A-Levels – Baccalauréat
  • University – Université
  • Bachelor’s degree – Licence Professionnelle
  • Master’s degree – Diplôme d’ingénieur
  • Thesis – Thèse de master
  • Dissertation – Thèse de doctorat

You can use a grammar checker online, such as Scribens or Bon Patron. These are well worth a try because they will highlight basic errors in gender agreements, verb endings, and so on.

However, there are many more subtle issues that an online grammar checker will not detect. As a result, it may be a good idea to have someone who is fluent in French review your résumé. If you do not know anyone in real life, you could use a website like Lang-8, where native speakers go over your writing and correct it. These sites do charge fees, but it’s usually not a lot, and it’s well worth it if it helps you land your dream job!

We hope that this section has helped you create a professional French résumé that will impress future employers and land you your dream job!

Final Words

Best of luck with applying for your dream French job!