The French vs. the British

Talk of cultural differences has fuelled the love-hate relationship between the French and British for centuries.  Yet, for the first time, some groundbreaking research in the name of LinkedIn buzzwords could distinguish the French frogs from the British rosbifs.  The largest professional networking site has released the top ten most common words to feature on its users’ profiles in 2014 in both France and Britain.  So, in light of this, how differently do the French and British describe themselves in a professional context?

Firstly, here’s a copy of the top 10 buzzwords or mots clés for both countries:


Interestingly, both the French and the British overwhelmingly described themselves as “creative”, “motivated”, “passionate” and “strategic” in the workplace.  So far then, so much in common.

Yet after this, slight differences between the two nationalities begin to surface.  According to LinkedIn, the French are self-declared “experts” with a “specialist” skill set.  The British, on the other hand, believe themselves to have a “wide range” of abilities.

Contextually, this doesn’t really come as a surprise.  Hierarchy in France is very much respected and getting to the top requires years of studying, so to call oneself an expert in a certain field is to be held in the highest esteem.  The majority of professions require a corresponding Masters degree and a considerable change in career is notably harder to achieve in France.  The British, on the other hand, are relatively more lax about degree titles and regard professional experience as more important.  What they lack in educational expertise, they make up for with a proven “track record” of “extensive experience” as well as “drive” and “enthusiasm” (or so they claim)!

The critical difference, however, is that the French declare themselves to possess “international experience” and “multicultural” skills, noticeably absent from their British counterparts’ list.  With the global business language being English, perhaps the Brits feel international experience to be less vital.  The French, on the other hand, faced with a more challenging economic situation, may feel obliged to prove themselves capable of adapting to foreign markets.

Nonetheless, LinkedIn has such a considerable following in both countries it seems that the world is getting smaller rather than bigger.  The fact that both French and British workers have chosen to use an American networking site to sell their skills suggests a move towards the international worker, where cultural specificities are becoming irrelevant on the global market.

So, with these points in mind, what does your LinkedIn profile say about you?  Do you use more English or French buzzwords?  If any at all?  On a final alternative note, an interesting outlier comes from the Netherlands where “sustainable” made the list of top ten buzzwords last year: does this mean their offices are filled with environmental enthusiasts?

If you liked this article, take a look at our blog for more.  And if you’re currently looking for a job, whether you’re French or British (or any other nationality for that matter), consult our job offers here.

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