TOP 4 tips to write and structure a good cover letter in French
The cover letter is THE centrepiece of an application when you are looking for a job in a French-speaking country, especially in France. Some recruiters start from reading it and could decide not to screen your resume if your cover letter is not adapted.
Structure is the Key: Recruiters generally take 30 seconds to analyze your letter and decide to read it more carefully if they found it clearly structured. 1 page lengh max : be concise by telling the essential in few words, which is a great quality for every kind of job, and very appreciated in France.
Here are 4 tips to write a good cover letter in French.
1/ DON'T IGNORE INTRODUCTION & CONCLUSION
Introduction and Conclusion are mandatory.
Introduction : Mention your current position, affirm your motivation and remind the recruiter of the job you are applying to. You may find this last advice silly, but keep in mind that recruiters screen hundreds of letters a day, for many different positions. Helping him to identify clearly who you are and what position you are applying to is the best way to put him in a good mood and increase your chances to be read more carefully. Hereunder an example of a good intro : « Actuellement consultant dans le domaine des systèmes d’information au sein du cabinet XXXXX, je souhaite par la présente vous exprimer ma profonde motivation pour rejoindre la société ZZZZ en tant que Business Analyst, dans le cadre de l’offre publiée sur votre site internet le 30 Octobre 20XX »
Conclusion : Don’t underestimate your conclusion. After two long hours of concentration, it could be tempting to finish it quickly. It’a mistake. Conclusion is the last contact between you and the recruiter before an eventual 2nd round. Care about it. It is also the good moment to reaffirm your motivation for the job. Here is an example : « J’espère avoir pu, au travers de ces quelques lignes, vous faire part de ma motivation pour rejoindre vos équipes et des compétences que je pourrai leur apporter. Je serais heureux de pouvoir vous exposer de façon plus détaillée mon parcours et mes motivations au travers d’un entretien et reste à votre disposition pour ce faire. Dans l’attente d’une réponse, je vous prie d’agréer, Madame, Monsieur, l’expression de mes respectueuses salutations »
2/ CORE STRUCTURE: A KEY-SUCCESS FACTOR
What you must integrate between your introduction and your conclusion is what I call the « Me,You,Us » core structure. This structure is particulary effective and well noticed by french recruiters. This structure must be splitted up in three different paragraphs :
« Me » : tell the recruiter who you are, where you have studied. Then, if you have some work experience, explain what you have learnt and link it to your competencies, the ones the recruiter is looking for.
« You » : 1 company = 1 application. In this part, you have to show the recruiter that you are not applying for an ordinary company, but for THE company. You must show your interest, and the recruiter must feel it. You must mention specific and unique details which are part from the DNA of the company your are applying to (values), and why you are truly interested in it. This part is crucial for two reasons :
1/ The majority of applicants don’t do it : it is a good way to distinguish yourself. By doing this, you show the recruiter that you have a solid pitch, and it gives a personal touch to your letter which is very appreciate in french speaking country.
2/ Avoiding the classical copy-paste sentences which fit to every company will help your letter to stay on the recruiter’s desk, and not thrown in the trash can. French recruiters are very demanding about the reasons why you want to work for THEIR company.
« US » : In this last part of the core structure, you have to link yourself (Me) to the Company (You) with something which makes you unique and the ideal candidate for the job : your competencies. You have to clearly explain what would be the benefits for you and for the company to work together. More than the company, explain what the team you would be involved could get and what could be your added value. Be concrete.
3/ USE KEYWORDS
Job offers are always full of key words. Identify and use them ! Repeating the same keywords in your cover letter is an efficient way to stay focused on the competencies the recruiter is looking for. Doing so, you won’t disgress from the needs, and the recruiter will find you interesting, and may think that you are the good one for the job!
4/ BE HONEST
Don’t lie. It is easy to to do so in a cover letter, but if you think that it will help you to pass the screening step, it will harm yourself in the future. French recruiters check references and ask lots of questions to assess the consistency between your letter and your declarations.