8 steps to building a CV in French

You want to work in France? Or in a French-speaking country? Even though English is widely used throughout the world, building a CV in French will help increase your chances at finding a job. Not only will it show that you speak (even a little bit of) French, but that you made the effort to go through this (tough) exercise!

In this article, I’m going to show how to build a CV in French in 8 steps. I’ve opted for a 2-column layout (see picture below)

A CV in French
  1. Structure
    1. Step 1: Picture & Names
    2. Step 2: CV Title
    3. Step 3: Personal Details
    4. Step 4: Hard Skills
    5. Step 5: Interests & Hobbies
    6. Step 6: Career Objective
    7. Step 7: Work Experience
    8. Step 8: Education
  2. Vocabulary
    1. Hard Skills
    2. Interests & Hobbies
    3. Soft Skills
    4. Work Experience
    5. Education
  3. Additional information
    1. Metrics
    2. References section
    3. Length & formatting
    4. Administrative aspects
    5. Examples of French CVs

Structure

Step 1 – Picture & Names

Your picture needs to look professional. Make sure you select a nice background too. Your first and last names can be placed right below it.

Step 2 – CV Title

Add your CV title right below your names. Refer to the vocabulary section to find your CV title in French.

Step 3 – Personal Details

o “Adresse :
You don’t need to give your full postal address. Your town and country should be enough for a first contact.
o “Email :
That’s where you’d add your email adress.
o “TĂ©lĂ©phone :
Make sure you include your country code before your phone number (in order to be reached from France)
o “Permis de conduire” = driving license, and “avec vĂ©hicule” means that you’re a car owner.
o Add your links to social media accounts at the bottom of this section (including your online portfolio if you have one).

Step 4 – Hard Skills

Divide the “Hard Skills” section in 3 main parts:

  • IT tools
  • Languages
  • Others

You don’t need to give a title to this section. Just make sure you indicate your level of proficiency in front of each item.

Step 5 – Interests & Hobbies

Right below the hard skills section, you insert your interests and hobbies. Once again, I don’t feel the need to add a title to this section. Make sure you leave a space after the previous section (“Hard Skills”), this way recruiters will understand that it’s another section.

Step 6 – Career Objective

Same thing here, by placing this 6th section at the very top of your CV (2nd column), it’s going to stand out and you won’t need to give it a title: recruiters will understand that you’re stating your career objective. Sum up your profile and what you’re looking for (position, market sector, type of contract, dates …) Make sure you also include 3 to 5 soft skills that describe you best in this paragraph.

Step 7- Work Experience

The French title of this section is : “Expérience Professionnelle”. You’re free to choose its plural form instead: “Expériences Professionnelles”.
As you’d do for a CV in English, you list all your past work experience in a reverse chronological order: you list your most recent work experience first, and finish with the furthest away in time.

Step 8 – Education

You’d typically describe your education background in this section. You should also include here training courses and certifications. Its French title is identical to the English one : “Education“.
We don’t usually mention grades and/or awards on a French CV. I’d suggest you do so as there’s no actual reason why you shouldn’t and as recruiting practices evolve.
Note: if you’re still a student, place the “education” section above the “work experience” one. You’ll also need to make sure that all the keywords relevant to your career objective stand out.

Vocabulary

In this part, I’m going to give you a number of keywords to get you started.

Hard Skills

basic knowledgenotions de base
limited experienceexpérience limitée
practical applicationmise en pratique
fully autonomousautonome
office softwareoutils bureautiques
budget managementgestion de budget
marketing planplan de marketing
staff managementgestion d’Ă©quipe
project managementgestion de projet
design toolsoutils de création
negotiationnégociation
product developmentdéveloppement produit
online web marketing toolsoutils en ligne de marketing web
recruitmentrecrutement
purchasingachat

Interests and Hobbies

dancedanse
runningcourse Ă  pied
soccerfootball
travelles voyages
booksla lecture
swimmingla natation
singingchanter
guitarguitare
pianopiano
volunteer workbénévolat

Soft Skills

communicationcommunication
priority managementgestion des priorités
stress managementgestion du stress
creativitycréativité
leadershipleadership (widely used in French)
initiativeinitiative
strong motivationmotivation forte
team playeresprit d’Ă©quipe
fast learnerqui apprend vite
flexibilityflexible
multi-skilledpolyvalent
autonomyautonomie
adaptabilityadaptabilité
organisedorganisé
accountabilitysens des responsabilités

Work Experience

Here are a few translations for the work experience section. I’ve added the feminine version of each position in brackets.

Positions

a positionun poste
a sales representativeun(e) commercial(e)
an accountantun(e) comptable
a customer service representativeun(e) chargé(e) de clientèle
a personal assistantun(e) assistant(e) personnel(le)
a purchase managerun(e) responsable des achats
a HR managerun(e) responsable RH
an export managerun(e) responsable export
a marketing managerun(e) responsable marketing
a waiterun serveur (une serveuse)
a cookun cuisinier (une cuisinière)
a cashierun caissier (une caissière)

Market sectors

food industrymarchĂ© de l’agro-alimentaire
wine industrymonde du vin
manufacturing industryl’industrie manufacturière
hospitality industryl’industrie hĂ´telière
automotivel’industrie automobile
servicesservices
productsproduits
health sectorle secteur de la santé
fashion and luxurymode et luxe
ITinformatique

Dates / Duration

Please note that in French, months names don’t start with a capital letter.

Januaryjanvier
Februaryfévrier
Marchmars
Aprilavril
Maymai
Junejuin
Julyjuillet
Augustaoût
Septemberseptembre
Octoberoctobre
Novembernovembre
Decemberdécembre
one monthun mois
one yearun an

Types of contracts

a permanent contractun CDI = Contrat à Durée Indéterminée
a fixed-term contractun CDD = Contrat à Durée Déterminée
an internshipun stage
a fixed salaryun salaire fixe
a commissionune commission
a bonus une prime

Education

As school systems can be greatly different from one country to the next, you might need to find a French diploma “equivalent” to yours (domain field, number of studying years required, etc.) I’d suggest adding a (short) sentence to give further details in any case.

Ph.DDoctorat
Postgraduate degree following a masterDiplĂ´me d’Études Approfondies (= DEA)
Master’s degreeMaĂ®trise (“Master” is widely used too)
Bachelor’s degreeLicence (“Bachelor” is also commonly used)
Top SchoolGrande École
High School Diploma / A-LevelBaccalauréat
High SchoolLycée
ScienceSciences
LiteratureLittérature
Engineering degreeDiplĂ´me d’ingĂ©nieur

Additional Information

Metrics

Unless you worked in marketing and/or sales, you don’t include metrics in a French CV. There’s no actual reason why you shouldn’t include them, so feel free to mention them if you want to.

References section

We don’t usually mention referees in our CVs, but, as for metrics, feel free to include this section if you want to. A recruiter would typically ask for references once they’ve interviewed you.

Length & formatting

I’ve described here the most commonly used structure: you’re free to move sections around. If you’re still a student, I’d suggest placing the “Education” section above the “Work Experience” one for example. Make sure all keywords relevant to your career objective are standing out (in the Education section in particular).

Here are few other differences worth noting:

  • Contrary to most English CVs, French rarely center their names at the top of a CV.
  • Date: you’ll need to adopt the French date formatting (dd/mm/yy). I’d suggest you write the months names (instead of using numbers) to make sure all dates are correctly interpreted.
  • Length: French recruiters tend to prefer one-single-page CVs.
  • Spelling and grammar: as for a CV in English, the recruiter will expect you to have read (and re-read!) your CV several times and check any mistakes. Even though they’ll understand that you’re not a French native, and mightn’t expect you to be fluent in French, they’ll nonetheless expect you to have worked long enough on your CV to make sure that there’s no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
  • Punctuation: there are 4 main differences between English and French punctuations (see this article for more info)

Administrative aspects

I’d suggest you check that your current driving license allows you to drive in France. Make sure, first and foremost, that you’ve collected all necessary information regarding any work permit you might need prior to applying to a job in France. Here’s an official French website where you’ll find an English version of all administrative processes.

Examples of French CVs

You’ll find many ideas to further inspire you on Pinterest.

cover picture: pexels.com