Writing a French CV: A Guide with Key Tips

Writing a French CV: A Guide with Key Tips

Speaking French opens the possibility of working in France and many other countries around the world. To help your chances of successfully gaining a French-speaking job, you’ll need to write a French CV. CVs in France follow a similar structure to UK CVs, but there are some important points of difference. In this article, we discuss how to write a CV for jobs in France, to boost your chances of success.

Cultural considerations: The French Job Market

Living and working in France can seem like an appealing prospect. With its historic cities, food and wine culture and strong employment rights laws, there are many reasons to explore relocating to France.

The first thing to consider when exploring France as a place to work is that it’s more or less essential to be a confident French speaker. If you don’t speak French, job opportunities are likely to be severely limited. However, if you speak fluent (or close to fluent) French as a second language, there are plenty of options available to you.

France has a great reputation for employee rights, and this makes it an attractive place to pursue a career. Average salaries in France are similar to the UK, while there are laws in place to protect the work-life balance of employees, including the ‘right to disconnect’ and a minimum annual leave provision of 2.5 days per month (30 days per year).

Despite being one of Europe’s most productive economies, France has a relatively high unemployment rate and significant skills gaps in certain areas. This means that if you’re qualified and experienced in one of the key sectors where France lacks resources, your job search has a great chance of success. There are known, long-term shortages of talent in the IT, health, engineering and freight sectors. Additionally, there are several in-demand transferable skills for the French jobs market. These include reliability, taking initiative, problem-solving, collaboration, resilience, and adaptability.

If you have proven experience in any of these sectors, or you can show any of these transferable skills in your CV, you can greatly improve your chances of success. Thinking about France’s cultural differences, skills gaps and the needs of French employers can really give your French CV a boost.

Structural Distinctions of French CVs

CVs in France and the UK follow a broadly similar structure, but there are some differences to consider. In France, the term CV is widely used, as it is in the UK. It’s rare to see French employers use the term ‘résumé’, even though this is a French word meaning ‘summary’. Employers prefer to use ‘CV’. The word ‘CV’ means more or less the same thing as it does in the UK and other European countries – a short career summary outlining your main experience, skills and achievements and fitting onto one or two sides of A4.

There are, of course, some minor differences between a UK and a French CV. These are mostly cultural, and it’s easy to adapt a base UK CV into something for French applications with a few tweaks. For example, French CVs tend to include a photo, while this is generally discouraged in the UK. French CVs may include a few more personal details, such as your marital status and your CEDEX (postal code). It’s also worth noting that Europass CVs can be effective in France, while they’re not widely used in the UK.

Key Components of a French CV

Take a look at the key sections of a French CV below, with tips and examples for writing your own:

Start your French CV with a simple header with contact details. These typically include your full name, your email address, your phone number and your postal address (with CEDEX code if you live in France). It’s also common to include several other personal details on your CV for France, such as your age, marital status, gender and nationality. Additionally, you may want to add a LinkedIn profile. While including a personal photo is inadvisable in some locations, it’s quite common and even encouraged in France.

CV summary

Like a UK CV, the next section tends to be the personal statement or CV summary/objective. Take this opportunity to mention your key skills, experience and ambition, with particular reference to the job advert and any desirable key skills mentioned. 

Work experience

List your relevant jobs in reverse chronological order, starting with your current or most recent role. Include your job title, the name of your employer, its location and the dates you worked there. Under each entry, add several bullet points explaining your responsibilities and achievements. Use action verbs to show how you used skills included in the job description, and make sure you quantify your achievements with data and evidence where possible.


French employers tend to take academic credentials very seriously. List your highest qualification. If this is a British degree or similar level, be sure to translate it into the French equivalent to make it easier for French employers to understand. Mention the name and level of your qualification, the institution and the dates you studied there.


Add a list of your skills, referring to the job description to understand the key requirements for the role. You may wish to include your key skills and technical competencies, with separate lists for computer skills and languages, as these are particularly important for jobs in France.


As mentioned above, you can include languages in a separate list from your main role-based skills. Add the fluency level or level of qualification you’ve achieved for each language in your list.

Additional sections

Optional sections for a French CV include certifications, volunteer work, awards and hobbies and interests. Only add any of these sections if they’re relevant to the job description and help you to prove skills or experience you haven't mentioned elsewhere.

Thinking about France’s cultural differences, skills gaps and the needs of French employers can really give your French CV a boost.

If you’re applying for a job in France, it’s usually crucial to have an accomplished level of spoken and written French. Write your CV in French, unless you’re applying to an international company where English is the main business language.

The French job application process follows a similar format to the UK and other countries, so don’t expect too many surprises along the way. It’s normal to send your CV along with a cover letter, following the same basic format as a UK cover letter. Make your CV concise, aiming for a length of one to two pages of A4. If you want to use a Europass CV format, these are widely used and acceptable for French job applications.

Business is quite hierarchical in France, so expect a formal, structured interview process. Dress in business attire and remain polite and professional throughout the interview. French employers value candidates who show initiative, so research the company before the interview and be prepared to answer any questions of this nature.

If you’re applying for jobs in other French-speaking territories, be aware that customs can differ significantly from France itself. Take some time to research the business culture, application process and CV expectations for the country you’re applying i

Expert tip:

France has a relatively formal business culture, so keep your CV and cover letter professional and concise and follow a traditional, reverse-chronological format. Outline your key skills, experience and achievements, referring to the job description, and aim for a short document of one-to-two pages.

Best Practices for Your French CV

Here are some tips for ensuring your CV for France follows the local customs and best practice:

  • Write your CV in French. Have it proofread by a native French speaker if possible, before sending.
  • Keep your CV short and to the point. Aim for one side of A4, but two is also acceptable.
  • Adopt a formal, professional tone. French business culture can be quite traditional.
  • Use reverse chronological order for your work experience.
  • Include a personal photo and add personal details such as age and marital status.
  • Add a separate computer skills section in addition to your technical skills.
  • Include languages in a separate section, indicating your fluency level or qualifications in each.
  • Choose a clear, easy-to-read layout and structure.
  • Consider using a Europass CV format to help translate your skills, experience and qualifications into French standards.
  • Include a well-written cover letter outlining your reasons for applying and highlighting your key skills and experience.

Key Takeaways for a Perfect French CV

Navigating the French job market can be daunting, but there are plenty of rewarding opportunities if you’re willing to take the step. When writing your French CV, aim for a concise, formal document that outlines your key skills and experience, in line with the job description. French business culture is fairly traditional, so make sure your CV and cover letter are professional, and be ready for a formal interview.

CVwizard can help your French CV to stand out from other candidates. Sign up today to access a range of eye-catching CV templates, and use our CV app to start creating a beautiful CV for French job applications.

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