Writing your CV in English is not as easy as you might think. Indeed, it is not enough to translate your CV into English word for word. And then even when you think you know the language, small mistakes stupidly slip between the lines. Don’t panic, the good news is that impressing recruiters with appropriate words and following our advice is possible without being bilingual.
1. Picture or no picture on your CV in English?
Concerning the addition of a photo of yourself, you will need to find out about the country in which you are applying.
In some countries, it is better to avoid putting a picture. Indeed, this can be considered discriminatory. So don’t put a picture on your CV if you apply:
In the United Kingdom
In the United States
In other countries, on the other hand, without a photo your CV may be lost.
You can include a photo in your CV if you are applying:
In Europe (except for the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden)
If you choose to put a picture in your CV, make sure it is professional. Prefer a solid white background behind you, be well combed, without too much make-up and avoid sexy selfies.
2. Different sections of your CV in English
An English CV is organized in the same way as most common CV, with different sections:
- Education (your school and university background)
- Work Experience (your professional background and training)
- Skills (your computer, professional and interpersonal skills)
- Languages (the languages you speak fluently or in an intermediate way)
- Interests (your interests, sports activities and associations)
Attention! Be commercial and arrange the different sections in order of importance and thus optimize the recruiter’s interest in your application. For example, if you have a lot of professional experience, highlight this section.
Also, don’t forget that Anglophones always put the dates on the right in their CVs.
3. What about your diplomas on your CV in English?
Your school and university career must be organized in a precise and coherent way on your CV. First the diploma and then the school/university.
Here are some French diplomas and their equivalence in English-speaking certifications.
- The Baccalaureate: French A-levels
- The Bachelor’s degree: Bachelor’s degree
- The Master: Master’s degree
- 2-year courses of study (BTS, IUT): Two-year technical degree (Higher National Diploma)
For more equivalences, see our article…
If you do not yet have a diploma because you are just starting your studies, it does not matter, first put forward the diploma you will receive. For example, if you are in the first year of a Master’s degree in Law, enter “Master’s degree in Law” and the recruiter, looking at the dates, will see for himself that you are in the first year. Applying this little advice will always give you more credibility.
In addition, adding a list of the subjects you are studying and have studied will help to enhance your knowledge and give the recruiter a little more insight into your studies…
4. Highlight your professional career path
Adding the assignments carried out during a job or internship that you have completed will allow you to highlight your knowledge and experience. Don’t make sentences and get to the point by listing your missions with dashes.
To give value to an executed mission, you have to use the right words. Many verbs are to be known, in particular, to avoid repeating themselves such as create, handle, assist in, participate in, participate in, deal with, conduct, analyze, establish, establish, improve, develop, produce, offer, provide, raise, increase, prepare, complete, perfom, achieve, implement…
The conjugation of verbs depends on the topicality of your position, so it is important to conjugate the verbs in the past if your mission is already completed.
Example: – welcomed clients (Past)
– welcoming clients (Present)
Do not hesitate to use adjectives that enhance your work when describing your missions, for example: efficient communication, excellent quality service, creative content, innovative ideas, apropriate attitude, reliable reports, convincing arguments, accurate information or data…
You have no professional experience? Don’t panic, talk about your associative and school projects (VSEs, oral presentations, group projects/folders, etc.), highlight small jobs done, babysitting for example. Make yourself up “Event Manager”, even if it was for your little brother’s surprise birthday.
5. Reveal your personal and professional skills on your CV in English
Give yourself the best chance to match your recruiter’s expectations: add some on your skills! Here are some examples of skills that may be of interest to recruiters:
Organizational and analytical skills, ability for teamwork and individual work, ability to work under pressure or in a challenging environment, leadership, results-orientation, goal orientation, customer focus, social adaptability…
To be convincing and make recruiters want to read your CV, don’t overdo it either, 6 skills are enough to make you stand out.
6. Be interesting for the recruiter with your personal interests
The “Interests” section is not to be neglected in your CV and it may be enough to make the difference between your CV and that of another candidate. Indeed, the purpose of this section is to show that you are a living, passionate, cultivated or committed person.
At best, give a physical and sporting activity, a cultural activity and an associative activity. Also talk about your travels abroad to highlight your resourcefulness and open-mindedness. A quick reminder: “Travel” is a word to use in the singular.
Americans exaggerate a lot in their CVs and self-esteem is essential in Anglo-Saxon countries. So don’t hesitate to embellish your profile: it’s not a lie to say you love Art, we won’t say you’ve never had good grades in Fine Art, I promise.
Here you are, ready to write a CV in “proper English”, which will delight the recruiter’s eyes.
One last tip: Reread yourself absolutely and prefer online dictionary sites such as Word Reference or Linguee rather than Google Translation.