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CVs in French

The CV in applications to French companies is important, but often shorter than an English CV. You may also need a ‘lettre de motivation' or covering letter, which can often be more important than your CV. 

For CVs, follow the templates provided in recent good bilingual dictionaries (e.g. the Collins Concise French-English) which have example letters and CVs.

The following websites also have tips and example CVs, as well as useful sections on writing business and job letters in French :


Make sure you turn "first class" or "A"s into "mention très bien", “2.1” into "mention bien", "2.2" into "mention assez bien".


Language Skills

  • (Basic) knowledge - Notions
  • Conversant - Maîtrise convenable, Bonnes connaissances
  • Proficient - Lu, écrit, parlé
  • Fluent - Courant
  • Bilingual - Bilingue
  • Native language - Langue maternelle

Be positive when referring to previous work experience.

Do ask a native speaker (your College lecteur/lectrice) to check your CV.


Covering letter "lettre de motivation":

This letter is crucial in ensuring a good chance of getting the job, or at least attract the attention of the recruitment staff. Make sure you get the name of the person you are writing to, by checking their website (“ressources humaines” section).

Be precise in asking the kind of internship or “stage” you would like to do.

Do check in the Year Abroad office if students from previous years have worked for the same company or applied for a similar job.

French companies are used to receiving applications, and they normally take on students for short or longer periods. Make sure you stick to your words, or write a proper apology if you are no longer contemplating working for them.

Addresses of multiple companies are stored in the YA office, covering everything, from the car industry to publishing, from journalism to banking.

The more letters you send, the better your chances of getting the work experience you seek.

Do not expect to be paid at first, even though payment might be provided after a while. 

Do emphasize the following points:

  • You are "étudiant en licence de langues à l'université de Cambridge, 2ème année, et devant passer une année à l'étranger pour approfondir votre connaissance du français, et de la culture française en général. Vous terminerez votre licence l'année suivante."
  • Show that you are really motivated to work for this company in particular (get the name right!), and how you could contribute to their company. How you could put your skills to good use: translation, capacity to work under stress, imagination, creativity, efficiency: "j'ai acquis une bonne expérience de traduction, thème et version, et suis capable de travailler dans des conditions exigeantes, de façon efficace mais aussi créative".
  • Mention any previous experience you may have in matters related to the company, which could make the company want to hire you : "j'ai déjà écrit beaucoup pour le prestigieux journal de l'université, pour la radio... j'ai déjà effectué un stage à la BBC, dans les médias… J'ai une bonne connaissance du milieu des affaires, ayant travaillé pour la société X…"
  • Emphasize your communication skills, your capacity to be well organized, and to work in teams: "Je communique facilement et je suis toujours très organisé dans mon travail. J'apprécie beaucoup le travail en équipe."
  • Without bragging, tell the company how you could bring something different but also tell them how you would benefit from such experience: "Ce stage me permettrait de peaufiner ma maîtrise de la langue et de profiter d'une ambiance de travail stimulante.”
  • Always be specific if you can, show that you really want to work for this company. This will be easy if you have set your mind on something you are really keen to do.
  • To get addresses and contact names the "Chambres de commerce et d'industrie" of the town and cities where you would like to work is a good starting point. Lists of publishers, media companies etc. are also available on the Internet.
  • Do end your letter by saying: "Merci de votre attention. En espérant que vous pourrez répondre favorablement à ma demande de stage, je vous prie de croire, Monsieur, Madame/Mademoiselle (depending), à l'assurance de mes sentiments respectueux"
  • Do not forget that the addressee's names and address should be on the right hand side of the letter. Bonne chance!
  • For help or advice talk to your lectors, or get in touch with either Chris Gagne or Hugo Azérad. Please follow the advice provided here (and on the websites listed here) before contacting them!

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