How to write a French CV.

“Curriculum Vitae” (usually known as a CV or resumé) can be loosely translated as “the course of my life”. A summary of academic and professional achievement to date, the CV is a requirement of absolutely every job application. Detailing your experience, characteristics and what sort of job you are looking for, the CV is your first chance to show a potential employer that you are a good fit for their job. In most countries, sending your CV is the first step in the employment process, so the impression it gives of you is key to your job search success.

I have written before about the importance of making an impact quickly with your CV. Studies show that it only takes employers six seconds to decide whether the CV in front of them is going to make its way into the bin. For this reason, knowing what the company you are applying to is likely to expect from your CV is essential if you are to tick all the right boxes and land yourself in the “Interview” pile. Popular worldwide, the format of CVs varies from place to place. Hiring managers in Hong Kong therefore will not expect the same sort of CV as their counterparts in Berlin. For this reason, time spent adapting your CV to the country where you are seeking work is highly valuable.

Working in a bilingual recruitment agency in Paris, we receive a lot of CVs from British candidates, who often seem unaware of the differences between ideal CVs in the UK and France respectively. Making the following adaptations could greatly improve their employment chances in France.


Start with a heading telling readers exactly what role you are looking for and a short description summarizing your key skills. Follow on with clearly marked sections describing your experience, education and other skills.

Be concise

Going hand in hand with clarity, the ideal French CV is concise. Although the “one-page-CV” myth is excessive for those with extensive experience, it is a good guideline for juniors writing their French CV. Even those with 20 years’ experience should write concisely enough to keep to two pages, keep it relevant.


It seems that adding a smart, professional photo to your CV is advantageous in any job search. In the six seconds spent deciding whether a CV is worth considering, employers’ eyes always go to the area where they expect to find a photo. In France, adding a photo is the norm, with employers liking to put a face to a name.

It is best to regard CV writing as an ongoing process and to acknowledge that adaptations will be necessary when applying for jobs in different countries, just as they would be for different types of job.

Good Luck!

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: