How to Create a Resume in French
If you apply to a job in France or in another French-speaking part of the world, you will likely need to submit a resume in French that follows the customs of the country in which you plan to work. This article will cover how French resumes are different from North American English resumes as well as some tips and useful French terms to help you get started.
When To Use a French Resume
If you are applying to a position that requires you to speak French, whether it’s in France, in another French-speaking country, or at a French-speaking company, you will likely want to submit your resume in French. If the job posting is in French, that’s generally a cue to submit your application in French.
Additionally, keep in mind which language you would prefer to use for a potential interview. If you write your resume in French, the employer will likely assume that you are comfortable enough with the language to interview in French as well.
It’s important to note that while the word ‘résumé’ means ‘summary’ in French, that is not, in fact, what French-speakers call this document - instead, it’s referred to as a curriculum vitae or CV.
Differences From North American English Resumes
In general, these are some of the differences between North American English resumes and French CVs:
Include Personal Information
It’s usually not a good idea to include personal information on your English resume in the U.S., Canada, or Australia because it can lead to potential discrimination concerns, but this practice is standard in France and most French-speaking countries. Your personal information should include your full name, your address, your age or date of birth, your email address, your phone number (including the country code), your nationality, and your personal website/online portfolio/social media links.
In the past, it was also standard to include your marital status, but this is becoming less common. So, you can include your marital status if you wish but it is not mandatory.
Add a Photo
It’s also common to omit photos from North American English resumes, again to avoid any potential discrimination concerns. However, it’s encouraged and expected to include a headshot on a French resume. Use a professional photo that is shot specifically for this purpose - not a selfie or a casual photo. This headshot should reinforce your professionalism and your validity as a candidate for the job, so be sure to dress simply but nicely, avoid wearing too many accessories, and smile directly into the camera.
List Your Job Title
Underneath your name, summarize your entire resume in a few words by providing your job title, followed by an introductory paragraph - similar to what would be called a resume summary or a resume objective on a North American English resume.
Education Is Emphasized Over Work Experience
Education is generally more important than your work experience on a French resume, so it should be placed first and given the most details. Your education section can include academic degrees, professional training that you’ve completed, certifications, and other courses.
Each country has its own education system so do some research about the country where you are planning to work and provide equivalencies wherever necessary to give context to your academic accomplishments.
In France, they use a relatively simple system to describe educational degrees that shows how many years of additional schooling you’ve done since graduating from high school:
- High school diploma - Baccalauréat (BAC)
- Associate’s degree - DEUG (BAC + 2)
- 3-year Bachelor’s degree - License (BAC + 3)
- 4-year Bachelor’s degree - Maîtrise (BAC + 4)
- Master’s degree - Masters (BAC + 5/6)
- Doctorate degree - Doctorat (BAC + 8)
For each entry in your education section, include the dates you attended, the name and location of the university or training center, the program name, and grades if applicable (using local equivalencies wherever possible).
Remember that France and most French-speaking countries use the date format DD/MM/YYYY. While you generally don’t need to include the day for your education dates, keep this in mind if you do write out any full dates on your French resume or cover letter, or when scheduling your interview, indicating your availability, etc.
Include Your Hobbies
While it’s becoming more popular to include hobbies and interests on a North American English resume, it has long been a common practice to include a hobbies section on a French resume. This is an opportunity to share your personal interests with an employer and provide some details about your character, abilities, and skills.
Use Formal Language
Remember to use the formal ‘vous’ instead of the casual ‘tu’ to say ‘you’ when addressing your potential employer in your resume, cover letter, other correspondence, and in your interview. This shows that you respect the employer and understand the cultural significance of this linguistic difference from English, where there is only one word for ‘you.’
Helpful French Resume Terms
Here are a few French terms that can be useful when writing your resume in French:
- First name and last name - Prénom et nom de famille
- Address - Adresse
- Date of birth - Date de naissance
- Age - ge
- Email address - Adresse email/courrier électronique
- Phone number - Numéro de téléphone
- Website - Site web
- Social media profiles - Réseaux sociaux
- Portfolio - Dossier professionnel
- Nationality - Nationalité
- Marital status - État civil
- Education - Formation
- Work experience - Expérience professionnelle
- Skills - Compétences
- Hobbies - Centres d’intérêts
Tips For Writing a French Resume
Here are some additional tips to help you create a successful French resume:
Put Your Last Name in Capital Letters
In French, sometimes the last name is written first, which can be confusing if both names could potentially be first names. So, to avoid confusion, many French people will write their last name in all capitals to clarify, regardless of what order is used. For example, you might write ‘Michael CRAIG’ or ‘CRAIG Michael.’
Stick to a Clean, Executive Style
Creative resumes are becoming somewhat more popular, but it’s still the safest bet to create a sleek, executive-style French resume. Use no more than two fonts and be very sparing with colors to achieve this classic look.
Include Language Skills
Be sure to include your language skills on your resume, listing English, French, and any other languages that you speak. Additionally, include a fluency level for each language, using the preferred scale for the country that you are hoping to work in. In France, the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) is the most widely used scale, although a different scale may be more appropriate for French Canada or other French-speaking countries around the world.
You can also include any language certificates that you’ve earned or language test results in this section.
Don’t Exaggerate Your French Language Skills
Be careful not to overestimate your French language skills, as your true level of fluency will likely become immediately apparent if a potential employer invites you to interview. That alone could be grounds for them not to hire you.
Have a Fluent French-Speaker Proofread Your Resume
Finally, be sure to have a fluent or native French-speaker check over your French resume for you to ensure that your spelling, grammar, and syntax are correct. While a French employer may forgive occasional errors in spoken language if you have indicated that you speak the language conversationally, there’s no reason to submit a written document with errors on it.
Writing a successful resume in French requires a bit more effort than simply translating your North American English resume to French. Instead, you will need to meet certain cultural expectations, such as including personal information, adding a headshot to your resume, following French customs for education details and date formats, and so forth. Plus, you’ll want to research specific resume expectations for the country or region where you are hoping to work, as they can differ from one French-speaking country to the next.
If you aren’t sure where to start with creating a sleek, polished French resume, consider using Jobseeker’s resume builder tool. You can switch all of your resume headers to French with the click of a button, input your details in French, add a photo, and select a crisp, executive style. Then download your resume instantly and get started applying for jobs in France or other French-speaking countries!