Applying to jobs in a different country than your own can be challenging. Each country has its own rules when it comes to writing a resume, so your success might depend on whether you are familiar with the ins and outs of writing your resume according to local norms.
This article will explain the basic requirements of resumes in France. The first fact to note is that the term un résumé in French means a summary. If you want to apply for a job you will be requested to send un CV (curriculum vitae) not un résumé.
A typical CV in France is written in French and is one page long for fresh graduates - max two pages in case you have several years of work experience. It is best to use short and concise sentences and to avoid the use of ‘I’ (‘je’). In regards to formatting your CV, there is no right or wrong way of doing it - it depends on what you want to emphasize.
What to include in a French CV?
(1) Personal Information (Situation personnelle et état civil)
- name + family name (in caps)
- nationality (add work permit)
- marital status (married or single)
- passport size photo
- driver’s license (if it is a job requirement)
Note that in France it is legal to ask for marital status. Writing your nationality can be a big advantage, especially in cases when i.e. your native language skills are essential job requirements.
Male candidates are indicated to add their military service in case it is compulsory in their home countries and they have completed it (dégajé des obligations militaires).
(2) Objective (Objectif)
The objective is a short phrase containing a short description of your targeted position, professional skills, and short-term career goals. If not added, as in case of unsolicited applications, the reader might conclude that you are looking for a job in the area where you have the most experience in or in the area of your latest experience.
(3) Education (Formation)
If you are a fresh graduate this section should precede the Experience section. List where and what you have studied and your qualifications.
Attempt to find the French equivalent of your qualification, so, for example, the French equivalent to A Levels is le baccalauréat.
(4) Professional Experience (Expérience professionnelle)
List here all your professional experiences - beginning with the latest. Add your role, the company, you have worked for and the period of your employment. In case your experiences are in lesser known companies add a short company description. This can be as short as simply stating the industry the company operates in.
If your experience matches the position you are applying for do expand this section by writing your tasks, areas of your responsibility, and achievements.
In cases when you don’t have enough professional experiences add any roles you might have had in i.e. student organizations or volunteering experiences.
Treating military service as a professional experience is okay in cases when the candidate had a position with responsibilities.
(5) Language skills (Langue)
Language skills are an asset but should not be exaggerated as they are easy to verify. Use the following to explain your level:
- Basic knowledge - Notions
- Conversant - Bonnes connaissances
- Proficient - Lu, écrit, parlé
- Fluent - Courant
- Business level - Commercial
- Bilingual - Bilingue
- Native language - Langue maternelle
If language skills are important requirements of the job, consider mentioning it in your objective.
(6) Computer skills (Informatique)
Add here the operating systems and computer programs you are familiar with and your level of expertise.
- Beginner - Connaissance
- Good knowledge - Bonnes connaissance
- Proficient - Maîtrise
(7) Hobbies/interests (Passe-temps/Centres d'intérêt)
Add here any extracurricular activities you want to mention considering the value it can have for the employer (in relation to particular skills, like teamwork, interpersonal relationships). Avoid mentioning any expensive hobbies or those of solitary nature, unless they require a great deal of discipline (ex. chess player or pianist). Also, avoid mentioning any political or religious affiliations as it might separate you from your future colleagues.