We’ve spoken to many people who emphasise the importance of applying for a job with a French language “European style” CV. If you are in France, you can take a free course at your local Pôle Emploi (French job agency) office to help you get your CV perfect for the job or work sector you wish to apply for.
You really do need a CV for every job you apply for in France so it’s important to spend time and possibly money getting it right.
Here are our ten top tips for a great French CV
1. Make sure that the translation into French is word perfect and all the accents are spot on – the French are real sticklers for this sort of thing.
2. Qualifications in France are essential in almost all job sectors. They are taking very seriously so, include ALL your qualifications with dates and grades. Try to equate your foreign qualifications and academic credentials to the French equivalent. If possible try to equate your foreign grades to French grades. It can take a lot of research and time but it will increase your chances of having your CV looked at and taken seriously.
3. Keep your CV to one or two pages (at most) according to how much experience you have. Any longer and you risk the reviewer sticking your application at the bottom of the pile while he/she concentrates on the more concise applications.
4. In some countries a stand out CV can be a good thing (not always) – particularly in creative sectors. This is not really the case in France. Job applications are taken very seriously and you need to avoid anything too personal, individual or quirky. Generally keeping your CV conservative and business-like in style is best.
5. Do include the information that you have a work permit – if it is necessary to have one (eg non EU) and you have one of course. This will certainly increase your chances of being considered
6. Do include all the languages you speak – clearly French is the most important one to have. Make that evident right from the start and give a top billing to the fact – it will help your chances of being considered and if the reviewer needs to search for that information, you may find your CV goes on the bottom of the pile. Even if your French is not perfect, include information about studying you have done or are doing.
7. It isn’t mandatory to send a photograph with your French CV but sometimes it can help. If you do include one make sure it’s appropriate and it may be worth having a professional photograph taken to show serious interest (particularly for management and business applications).
8. Jobs – Keep job experience summaries as just that – simple and short. Current/most recent jobs first with bullet point summaries. As with qualifications, you may want to translate the titles of jobs you’ve had into the French equivalent to help the recruiter. Reference checks with employers be they in France or overseas are highly likely to be carried out.
9. If there is room include a sentence about hobbies – particularly if they are pertinent to the job you’re applying for. Although the CV generally is a sober document, this can be your chance to show a little individualism and help you stand out – but keep it short!
10. Include a letter of motivation with your CV.