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How to Write a French-Style CV

June 26, 2020
In your professional career, there's no document that's more important than your CV. This particular file quite literally defines who you are in terms of your profession. It describes how important you are in your industry of choice. It lists down all your important skills. It shares what you've learned. And it details how your career has been going so far. When applying to a new job, this is the first and most important document that you send and show. So it should really be made well, especially if you're applying to a French company and you want to work in France.

How to Write a French-Style CV


What Language Should It Be In?

In making your CV for working in France, the first thing you have to not is its language. Do you write in English or French? It'd make sense to write in French, right? Considering that you are applying to work in France. However, doing so implies that French is your first language, which it may not be. So which is it? Well, it depends on the job post you're applying to. If the position is advertised in English, make it in English. If it's in French, have a local friend translate it to the language. 


Keep it Formal and Concise

The fewer words in your CV, the better. You should be able to define who you are, list down your important skills, and share your work experience in a single A4 page (Note: size A4 is the common size of paper for any official corporate document). Though it may seem that you've gone through a lot and you want to share as much about yourself as you can, you have to make it easy to read and peruse. Most especially since companies receive hundreds, possibly even thousands, of CVs for their posted jobs. 


How to Write a French-Style CV


Pictures Aren't Necessary

CVs with headshots are a thing of the past. That's what LinkedIn is for—which you should have when finding a job in France or anywhere else for that matter. Though it's not exactly illegal to include your picture in your CV, it might do you any favors either. Besides, having a headshot inserted will take up too much space from the many info you might want to include in your CV. 


Start with the Basic Important Details

This may go without saying, but don't forget to write your name, address, phone number, email address, age, and marital status. Also, include your current job if you're still in one. As for your name, in France, they write their surname first then their first names. Make sure to do it like this on your CV—the employer/HR will read it easier that way. When all of this is written down, you can now start on the other parts. 


How to Write a French-Style CV


Include a Projet Professionnel

In French-style CVs, there's a part called 'projet professionnel' that you should definitely include. Simply put, this is a short paragraph summarizing who you are and what your role is in the industry at hand. You don't have to specify which companies you've worked for and such as those are reserved for other parts down the line. This is is just a short introduction to give the employer/HR the gist of you are as a professional. 


List Down Your Expérience Professionnelle

Once you have your projet professionnel down pat, you can start listing down your work experience. Yes, this part comes right after as this is what the employer/HR will probably focus on the most. When listing your experiences down, do so in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent down to your first-ever job or internship. This is how the employer/HR will read it as well. Furthermore, if you're still currently working, it's better that they first know which company you're working for at the moment. 


How to Write a French-Style CV


Give Emphasis on Your Education

It's probably fairly common for professionals in different parts of the world to not put too much emphasis on education on one's CV. But here in France, it's an absolute must! The workforce here actually pays close attention to the educational background of a potential employee. Arguably with equal focus as to one's work experience. And don't just list down the schools you've gone to over the years. Include the seminars and special lectures that you've attended as well. 


Share the Languages You Know How to Speak under Langues

As a foreign resident/expat looking for work in France, it's incredibly important that you're transparent about the languages you speak. Even when your CV is in French, note that you're more fluent in English and that you simply had your CV translated. But don't worry! In many French companies, speaking the language isn't a prerequisite. And in fact, it might even make you look better if you know different languages, as many companies in Europe, in general, are multi-lingual. 


How to Write a French-Style CV


List Down Your Skills Under Informatique

In a French-style CV, there's a part called the 'informatique.' This is where you point out your own skills, ones that you excel at in accordance with your chosen profession. For instance, if you're applying for a secretary position, list down that you type really well, you take notes efficiently, and you follow orders as they're given to you. Moreover, you can also include special skills as well, provided that they have some value—albeit a little—to the job at hand. 


The Centres d’Intérêt is for Your Hobbies and Interests

Finally, list down your hobbies and interests in the 'centres d’intérêt.' Provided, however, that there's still space for it without you having to use another page. Though the centres d’intérêt isn't a requirement in a French-style CV, per se, it may make you more suitable for the job at hand. Also, during your job interview, this part can become an ice-breaker and a major point of conversation. You don't have to share everything here, just ones that you think can relate to the position you're applying for. 


How to Write a French-Style CV


If you're applying to a French company, make sure that your CV is assembled in a way that your potential French employers will easily understand. You may be surprised by how differently they do their CVs here. It's important that you know and apply the distinctions!