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CV - France

The "Curriculum Vitae" (CV) or "Resume" is where your work (or other) experience is laid out in a more outline-type form. Along with the Cover Letter (which is more literary and personal), it should clearly show any interested employers exactly what they can expect from you and why they should hire you! CVs vary by country as well, so take into account the following notes we have prepared for you.

There are a few basic rules when writing your resume. Though we outline the standard rules here, this is by no means the ONLY way to write a resume - depending on the type of job you are applying for you may be more or less free to be creative. However, take care not to go so far as to send your resume printed on a CD or a T-shirt, since this is likely to actually irritate recruiters.

Your resume should be short (2 pages maximum) and clear to allow it to be read quickly and easily. It should include:

Your personal information:
  • First name, last name. As foreign names may be confusing to a French employer, be sure to precede your first name with Monsieur, Madame, or Mademoiselle.
  • Address and telephone. You can indicate if your phone line is a direct line by writing "L.D." If you are currently employed and wished to be contacted at your job with discretion, write next to the phone number "discrètement SVP" (discretion, please).
  • Email and/or fax.
  • Marital status: marié (married), célibataire (single), divorçé (divorced), enfants (children). If your children are very young, add 'sans problème de garde' (no baby-sitting problems) if there is someone home to take care of them. Though in some other countries, such as America, it is illegal for an employer to ask about marital status, in France this is required info to provide to an employer.
  • Your age in figures ("26 ans", for example), not the date of birth.
  • Your nationality.
  • If you are a young male candidate, and military service is compulsory in your country, indicate if you have already completed it by writing "dégagé des obligations militaires".
NB : It is not necessary to give a title for each of these details (in other words it is not necessary to say "Situation de famille : marié," "Adresse : 123 rue de Paris", etc.).

Your objective:
Describe very briefly your career objective and the position you are seeking just under your personal information. For instance, an example would be "Objectif : À la recherche d'un poste de directeur de projet. Très forte motivation pour un poste international d'ici 5 ans."

Education ("formation" in French):
Indicate the date of your graduation, your diploma, your major (in French as "Spécialisation en :"), and the university from which you graduated. Add your grade average (called your "mention" in French) only if it is remarkably good. If you obtained multiple diplomas, you need only list the ones relevant to the position you're seeking. If you studied abroad, do not forget to mention it !

Languages (Langues):
If it is relevant to the position you are seeking, mention, at this place in your resume, the languages you are fluent in. If you are fluent in French, definitely mention this, since your proficiency with French will be an important factor in helping you cope with living abroad.

Work experience (Expérience professionnelle):
Most recent graduates put their education before their work experience. The French do give some great importance to education, so if you are a young graduate you should list education first. However, if you already have a few years of valuable experience and want a recruiter to immediately see what your achievements are, then you can put the work experience section before education.

When listing your work experience, there are two ways of organizing your resume:

Computer and language skills (if not mentioned above):
Mention all the programs, software, applications you know. If you want to mention business trips and stints abroad, give the total time spent in such and such country or city.

Other details (Centres d'intérêt ou activités extra-professionnelles):
Avoid mentioning those you don't practice on a regular basis. If you like cinema, you can be precise and specify which kind of movies you prefer, the same for books, music

  • The CV should be short and clear. One or two pages at the most.
  • Do not staple your resume to your cover letter.
  • Print an original copy for each application, with high quality paper.
  • Do not send any copies of your diplomas, unless requested.
  • Be neat: take care of the presentation, design, spaces, spelling, don't use abbreviations, emphasize the sections and things that are important by underlining or using bold type, etc.
  • There is no absolute rule on whether to attach or not a picture of yourself. However if you are applying for a hostess, trade representative or other position in which physical appearance is a crucial part of the job, then you should send a picture However, some recruiters may not like getting a photo, so take care when you send one. If you do send a photo it should be a 1.5" by 1.5" and should be an original, not a photocopy or scanned picture. In France this type of picture is known as a "photo d'identité". In France you can take one at Photomaton booths in all train stations, supermarkets, malls, or at a photographers studio.
  • Do not sign your resume.
  • Make sure the CV is clearly organized, so the information can be found easily. Check one last time for spelling mistakes, before sending it.
Now that you have written your cover letter you can compare it with the model we provide you. See model.  
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