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CVs in English

1 General considerations


The person considering your CV will have very little time to read it. You need to guide them to the most important information as quickly as possible. This means you should

  • eliminate as much irrelevant information as possible
  • eliminate any unnecessary punctuation
  • avoid emphasizing the wrong thing (eg titles)

CVs in English-speaking countries are fundamentally different from CVs in France and elsewhere, in terms of their philosophy, the language they use, their layout and their general appearance.

When writing your CV in English, don't just take your French CV and translate it. You will need to make major changes, and it is usually best to start from scratch, with a clean document and a clear head.

With a French CV, it is possible (although perhaps not advisable) to list your diplomas, your experience and other skills and assume that these will speak for themselves.

On an English CV, however, you need to explain everything that you include. Writing that you have a Master's Degree in Chemistry is not enough. You have to describe what you learned during your degree, what skills you acquired, in other words, what is it about your Master's Degree in Chemistry that makes you ideal for the job.

CV fonts

Appearance is also more important on English CVs, and you need to think carefully about layout, fonts and styling. It sounds superficial, since surely what counts is the content, but the style of your CV says a lot about you, just as the way you dress for an interview can create a good or a bad first impression which will influence the final decision.

The formatting of your CV is also a demonstration of your word processing skills. If you write that you can master MS Office (as you probably need to), your CV should demonstrate this.

Naturally, it's also important to eliminate any mistakes. 'Attention to detail' is a soft skill that most employers are interested in. Mistakes will quickly make you seem careless and so unsuitable for the job. Don't hesitate to send your CV to your English teacher for help and advice. Employers will expect you to have done this, and not to do so would suggest that you don't know how to use the resources around you, another shortcoming that will lead to a rejection. Make sure you've done as much work as possible before asking for corrections: the better your CV is when you ask for advice, the better the advice is, because your teacher will be able to concentrate on more advanced points, more subtle nuances rather than being distracted by spelling and grammar.

Finally, you need to think of your CV as a marketing document, as advertising: sell yourself, portray yourself in your best light, make yourself sound attractive. You don't need to lie to do this: you just need to identify your strong points and put them forward using the most positive language.


1  Introduction
2  Header | 3  Education | 4  Experience | 5  The Extra Bits
6  Descriptions | 7  Formatting | 8  British vs American English