How To Write a French CV? Tips & Examples
If you want to find an internship or a job in an French-speaking country, you definitely need a resume in French, and not in English! And without a perfect French CV, there is no point in applying for a job in France, Belgium or Switzerland.
We will show you step by step, section by section, how to make a French CV. You will also find all the translations you need as well as an example of a simple and convincing French CV in word and PDF that you can download for free.
The translation of CV or resume in French is CV, that stands for curriculum vitae. CV is masculine in French so you should write le CV.
The original Latin word curriculum vitae means the course of life (the correct spelling is actually curriculum vitæ with æ and not ae).
The English word resume actually comes from French! The actual French word résumé means summary and is not used as a synonym for CV.
In French, the cover letter is called la lettre de motivation and the application la candidature.
➜ See our tips for writing a cover letter in French.
For most recruiters in France, a 2-page resume is too long and may not even be read!
The modern 1-page CV is extremely common in France. There is one exception to the rule: If you have 10 or 20 years of experience, your resume may be longer than one page.
💡 Our advice:
Try to keep your CV to one page. This will allow you to be concise, to put only the most relevant information and not to get lost in the details.
Whereas your resume is extremely likely to be rejected in the United States if you include a photo, it's almost the contrary in France and French-speaking countries. This is the main difference between the English resume and the French resume.
You should include a photo in your French CV if you don't want to get a "no".
Let's now take a closer look at the French CV format, its layout and its different sections.
The easiest and most common way in to add a category called Contact, in which you include the following:
- name: nom
- email address: adresse mail
- phone number: numéro de téléphone or simply Téléphone (or Tél. : )
- address: adresse
- LinkedIn profile or personal website: profil Linkedin or site web
Like in the American resume, the resume summary is a kind of a teaser or pitch, a paragraph of. 2 to 3 lines, roughly two to three short sentences, which summarizes your profile, shows your professional objective and highlights your main qualities or skills.
The idea is to quickly give the recruiter an idea of who you are and make them want to read your resume.
Here is an example of a professional resume summary statement:
Spécialiste SEO et Growth Hacking avec 5 ans d'expérience, j'ai travaillé pour 3 startups dont Doctolib et Blablacar. J'ai augmenté la base de clients B2B de Blablacar de 16 % par mois pendant 9 mois. Créatif et à l'esprit entrepreneurial, j'aime associer des idées créatives à une analyse statistique rigoureuse des résultats.
This is a very good example with the candidate's profile, his professional experience, his results with his former employer and finally his uniques qualities and soft skills.
Here is another great example:
Développeur Android avec 6 ans d'expérience et une passion pour les nouveaux langages et frameworks de programmation. J'ai développé 6 applications dont l'application de rencontre Xmantra qui a été téléchargée 2 millions de fois. Très productif, agile, persévérant et attaché aux résultats concrets.
These few lines are usually written in the first person or with noun phrases without verbs.
It is common in French-speaking countries to list your education in reverse chronological order, i.e. to start with the most recent diplomas, since the most recent diplomas are those that recruiters are most interested in.
Do not translate word for word the names of degrees that do not exist in France, as this would be useless, but explain them well.
- Highschool diploma (US) or A Level (UK): the equivalent in French is Baccalauréat
- Bachelor of Arts (BA): Licence (although the word Bachelor in gaining popularity, especially in business schools)
- Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in mathematics: Licence en mathématiques
- Bachelor of Arts in Economics: Licence d'économie
- Bachelor of Science in Physics: Licence de physique
- Master's degree in social sciences: Master en sciences sociales
- Master's degree in social sciences, with high honors: Master en sciences sociales, mention très bien
💡 Our advice:
Only mention your grades if they are excellent. Also, if you graduated with high honors, write it down (mention très bien) or your thesis with summa cum laude (Mention très honorable avec félicitations du jury).
Equivalence of American and German grades
|US Grade||US Grade %||Description||French Grade|
|A- or B+||87-92%||Good||12-14|
In France, grades are out of 20. Ten out of 20, called “la moyenne”, is a passing grade. Below 10, it's failed.
As a foreigner, it is useful to specify your language skills precisely in order to quickly give the recruiter an idea of your level of French.
You can indicate your language level in French and other foreign languages as follows:
- native speaker (mother tongue) or bilingual proficiency: langue maternelle or natif
- full working proficiency: excellent niveau
- professional working proficiency: très bon niveau (corresponds to language level C1-C2)
- working proficiency or limited working proficiency: bon niveau
- elementary proficiency: niveau intermédiaire
You can also be more precise, for example:
Français : Lu, écrit et parlé couramment (C2)
You can also specify your foreign language level (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) using the CEFR scale (Common European Framework of Reference scale) but be careful with that since many recruiters do not know about it or at least not precisely what it means.
To add credibility, you can specify the context in which context you have spoken language or demonstrated your language skills:
1 year high school immersion in Bordeaux
2 years working experience with French-speaking clients
These examples are more precise and more convincing than a simple adjective describing your languages skills.
💡 Our advice:
Don't list the languages you learned on vacation during a two-week stay in a foreign country, as this will not interest the recruiter. List the languages you really know and do not include those for which you have only an intermediate level.
Some recruiters attach importance to this section because it is the most personal part of your CV. It tells a little bit more about your personality and your character so don't neglect it!
It can indeed bring out other human qualities, in the case of a humanitarian or volunteer experience for example, and show the recruiter if you correspond to the culture of his company.
You can add here :
- your hobbies and extra-professional or extra-school activities
Be specific, it is more interesting to read this than just soccer:
Coached a local youth league for four years and led the team to the citywide playoffs.
- your interests
If you like literature or movies, give examples, specify which genre or director you like. This can sometimes break the ice during the job interview and if the recruiter shares your passion, it can be a big bonus!
Member of a book club with a focus on contemporary French literature.
- your trips
3-month-cycling tour around Asia (5600km) for a fundraising campaign against cancer that brought $9,000 to help the National Cancer Research Institute.
- any other activity that might be of interest, such as a blog
Created the Blog Fashionista, wrote 45 articles about Beauty and Fashion Trends in 2 years, reaching 8,000 readers monthly.
- a social or humanitarian experience, volunteering or associative activities
2-year engagement in the National Association for Regugees Integration, organized 15 events and helped 8 refugees find a job and accompanied them for one year.
It's actually not very common in France to add references to your resume in France, except if you apply in a university or a school.
However, if you really want to, you can include 2 to 3 references at the end of your CV with the names, emails and phone numbers of people who can give an opinion about you, for example your former boss or if you are still a student the name of a teacher who knows you well.
Be sure to ask the people beforehand if they accept to appear as references on your resume.
|Resume (US) / CV (UK)||CV|
|Resume Summary||Profil or A propos|
|Education||Formation / Etudes|
|Highschool diploma (US) ou A Level (UK)||Bac / Baccalauréat|
|Bachelor of Arts in Law (BA in Law)||Licence en droit|
|Bachelor of Science in Mathematics (B.Sc.)||Licence en mathématiques|
|Master of Arts in Economics||Master en Economie|
|M.Sc. in Physics||Master en Physique|
|with highest honors (or honours in the UK)||avec mention très bien|
|with high honors||avec mention bien|
|with honors||avec mention passable (or simply: avec mention)|
|Summa cum Laude||avec mention très bien|
|Magna cum Laude||avec mention bien|
|Work Experience||Expérience professionnelle|
|Internship (US) (or Placement)||Stage|
|Summa cum Laude||Cell|
|Language Skills||Compétence linguisitiques|
|Native speaker or Bilingual Proficiency||Langue maternelle|
|Full working proficiency||Excellent niveau|
|Professional working proficiency||Très bon niveau|
|Limited working proficiency (or working proficiency)||Bon niveau|
|Interests and Hobbies (or Extracurricular)||Centres d'intérêt et Loisirs|
|Cover Letter||Lettre de motivation|
See our tips for writing a cover letter in French.