Regardless of whether you’re applying for college, looking for a new job in France or just testing the waters, the translation of your CV has to be impeccable if you want to compete with native speakers.
France is a country that’s multinational: immigrants make up over 9% of the total population. This means that you will be warmly accepted in whichever community you choose to go to. However, this doesn’t mean that your environment will tolerate a lack of French knowledge. On the contrary, France is one of the most patriotic countries in the world and the French really adore their language. They expect everyone to either speak it well or to be trying hard to get to that level.
This is the reason why you need top-notch translation for your CV if you’re not fluent in French yet. Here are some of the most important things to take care of:
#1 Compare to templates and examples
You don’t need to start from a blank slate when you’re crafting a CV. There are already phrases and structures that are generally used around the world and adapted to different cultures. This means that you won’t necessarily need to start from scratch, but you can use a French CV template to look at some of the words and phrases that are used.
You can use translation agencies or language companies to provide you with examples of foreign language CVs. For example, Isaccurate is a professional translation agencies review company that can help you view the best document translation services. In most cases, it’s wiser to get help from these kinds of language agencies that those that don’t usually work with CVs.
#2 Apply CV writing tips
It doesn’t matter that you are presenting information in another language: some of the basic rules are still the same. You have to make sure that your CV is easy to read, impressive, but also that it stands out from the rest. Remember, a CV is incredibly important because it will directly impact where you study or work.
Image via Think Specialist Recruitment
#3 Pay attention to cultural differences
Now that you have taken care of some of those basic prerequisites and CV writing tips, it’s time to make sure that everything you translated is French-friendly. What this implies is that some CV writing habits or customs that are normal in English may be considered inappropriate in French.
For example, French people prefer working smart over working hard. They don’t value putting in dozens of hours of overtime and they don’t see it as a sign of good work ethics like Americans do.
#4 Beware of False Friends
False friends or false cognates are words in two different languages that look the same (or at least very similar) but have different meanings. French and English have a long and complicated history, so it’s no wonder that those two are full of false friends. When you’re translating a CV from English to French, watch out for these common false friends:
- attend/attendre – you might want to say you attended college, but what you will actually say in French is that you waited for college
- journey/journée – this is one of the most frequent English/French false cognates; journée actually means day in French
- pass/passer – in English, you’re likely to say how you passed an exam in your CV, but in French, it would mean that you just took the exam
- library/librarie – this is one of those confusing nouns in French because it actually means a book shop (a place where books are sold, not borrowed)
#5 Hire experts
Generally, the best way to go about translating your CV from English to French is to hire experts to do it for you. Let online certified translation services translate your CV from English/French if you want certified translations which you can submit to government-level job positions, college applications, study abroad or internship applications, etc. Also, you should always look for agencies and companies that specialize in official document translation.
Image via Repeating Islands
#6 Make sure the grammar and spelling are impeccable
Now, we have come to the “final touch” part, but it’s very important nonetheless. In this context (CVs and resumes), there should be absolutely no errors in your document. Errors or mistakes in your CV automatically show that you don’t pay attention to detail or that you just didn’t try hard enough.
There are many free grammar and spelling checkers for French you can use online. If you’re not sure, run your CV through a couple of them to get second and third opinions.
#7 Send to a native for a final look
If you know a French native speaker who would be happy to look over your CV, go for it! Another pair of eyes can give you that much needed fresh perspective and less chance of mistakes. If you hire a translation agency, the text will always be either translated or proofread by a native speaker, so that’s something that will be done for you in that case.
If you don’t speak the language yet, sending a CV in French to a company might feel like you’re handing over your destiny to whoever translated it. If you translated it by yourself with the knowledge you already have, you could end up wondering if it was really that well-done in the first place.
Whichever option you choose, keep in mind that the translated version of your CV should be just as professional as the original one. With global opportunities and a chance to hire speakers around the world to do it for you, there’s simply no excuse not to do it right.
Mark Blackwood is a professional translator and a language enthusiast. He speaks four languages and is currently learning his fifth – Mandarin Chinese. Mark strives to learn as much about languages through a combination of academic study, web articles, YouTube videos and travelling.