It comes time to craft your résumé or CV and then it hits you. You spend X amount of time with the French language – is it worth mentioning it to employers?
In this article we’ll cover when can you justify putting French (or another foreign language) on your job resume.
Note: While “resume” is a borrowed word and should have accents, the accent-less spelling is common in English. I will proceed like this for the remainder of this article.
To list or not to list? That is the question –
Listing French on your resume is worthwhile if you can consider it as a marketable skill in the sector you’re applying for. But if you’re good at French or have some amazing experiences in France then don’t be afraid to list French on your resume.
Do you need to be a native speaker?
Being fluent in French or knowing multiple languages marks you as a diverse candidate with a high ability to problem solve. Fluency in languages exhibits intelligence and drive as well. If everyone was fluent in French then this website wouldn’t exist.
Having lived abroad in France, I can mention how I adapted to a different culture and experienced another mindset and way of life. I talked about my French experiences in interviews to standout from the rest of the applicants and to be more memorable come time for a hiring decision. If you’re not applying for a job that requires French, it’s a unique set of skills that sets you apart from other applicants.
Does your job need to use French to mention that you speak it?
Of course not. I used French on my resumes even when applying within sectors where foreign languages are irrelevant (for instance, to be an EMT on a rural ambulance company). The interviewers are curious about my language experience and travels; the easy discussions help break the ice and share something about me that I am passionate about.
When should you not list French on a resume?
If you want to keep your resume concise and relevant to the job you’re hiring for. For example, if French is just a hobby then maybe consider bringing it up in the interview but opt out of placing it on a resume.
When should you not list French on a CV?
CV’s are volumes longer than a resume, so feel free to place your French experience down when crafting it.
If you list French on your resume…
Make sure you use a qualifier to signify your level and/or mention any certificates you’ve achieved. If you just list “French” under languages known then the interviewers will assume you’re fluent.
Write something along the lines of:
- Intermediate French Speaker (~B1)
- Basic French reading and writing
- Able to read & write French professionally
Depending on what you’re applying for, employers may desire a more professional background in French and not your ability to frequent a French bar and make friends.
Also, if you list French on your resume then be prepared for anything. If your interviewer was fluent in French, they could ask you some questions or ask you to say a few things in the language. This is assuming you’re not applying for a job where they will test your language skills by default (translator, teacher, tour guide, interpreter).
If you’re constructing a CV then mention your French, but keep your resume short. If you are still uncertain about adding French to it then get some expert advice and have a few professionals in your field comb over your resume for possible changes. Maybe you can forgo mentioning French on your resume but mention your language skills to another area of your application, like a cover letter or personal statement.