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French or English resume?

Details that make a difference 

As applicants in an international labor market, Alumni have to wade through the differences that exist between countries in the hiring process. Here are a few tips for avoiding mistakes when creating your French resume.

Google translate is not always your friend


Resumes are highly structured, and they rely on common ideas in both French and English. However, these ideas don’t always translate exactly between languages. Under the English heading "Education", you'll find what the French label as "Formation" (Training). Even between different dialects of English, this can be misleading. For example, when you're applying in a US or European market, an "internship" in New York becomes a "traineeship" in London. 

Instead of relying on online automated translation services, check online the resume templates available in the target language. When you’re finished crafting your resumes, submit them to a proofreader whose native language is the one your resume is written in.

Give all the details

The European LMD system (Licence-Master-Degree) has allowed for a standardization of degrees and academic credits. Still, French higher education has its own characteristics: studying in a "classe préparatoire" (preparatory course) before a “Grande Ecole” (higher education institutions) is just one of the many particularities of French education. To allow for specificity in your resume and avoid any ambiguity, detail the nature and objectives of any specific curricula that you may have followed. 

Adapt your content

In addition to degrees, recruiters look for other specific information. What information they want to see depends largely on the country. For example:

  • French resumes indicate the age, nationality and sometimes marital status of the candidate. This information doesn't matter in the US, where the inclusion of this information is seen as potential for discrimination.
  • American recruiters have a special eye for experiences that are not necessarily in a professional context, but instead reflect the personality of the applicant.
  • Job applications in English are often concluded with professional or academic references for the applicant.

Certain trends tend to be standardized across various cultures. Although it is a long-standing custom in the US, Canada, UK and Australia, an introduction section quickly summarizing the applicant’s experience and professional objectives is not frequent in France. This short summary will indicate to employers before they really look at your resume what it is you’re looking for as an employee, and how your general experience is relevant to the position.

Before submitting an application to an employer, always do some research on what recruiters in the relevant country are looking for in a resume, so you can ensure that you’re being comprehensive and clear.