What is a CV and how is it different
from a Resume?
Meaning “course of life” in Latin, a curriculum vitae (or CV) is essentially a more thorough and detailed resume. While both documents outline an applicant’s skills, work history and education, CVs are often longer than a traditional resume since they include additional information about the applicant. This can include extra details about your academic background, published works, conferences you’ve attended, and in some countries, even your picture.
In many parts of the world, the words “CV” and “resume” are interchangeable, so it’s crucial to know which industries might favor which document, and for what reasons.
Who should use a CV?
While the vast majority of American job seekers will want to stick with a traditional resume, those pursuing certain job titles within a handful of industries should consider a CV:
- Professors and academics: Perhaps the most common American CV-users, those in academia are commonly expected to demonstrate the finer details of their extensive education history. This makes CVs ideal for advanced-degree holders working at a post-secondary level or above, whether they’re educators (professors, superintendents, etc.) or students.
- Scientists and researchers: Often overlapping with academia, scientists and other types of researchers are also likely to use a CV. Usually working at universities or private labs, these applicants’ qualifications often include high-level degrees and published research.
- Medical professionals: Thanks to the lengthy education required of those in the medical field, a CV may be a wise choice for these applicants. For example, becoming a fully trained and licensed physician can take up to a decade for many, some of whom pursue even more certifications as they advance and specialize. A CV and its extra sections are often required to display these additional qualifications.
- Certain jobs in arts and entertainment, architecture and more: In a number of industries, portfolios of past work demonstrate an applicant’s work history in the same way a resume might for another job seeker. For example, it’s common for actors to submit CVs along with their reel of past performances, just as an architect would submit a similarly visual portfolio of past designs.
- Some executive-level applicants: Executive or highly senior positions can call for an extraordinary level of experience or distinct expertise. This can make submitting a CV a more strategic option for those applicants since CVs allow for the addition of published works, speaking engagements, board seats and more. Competition for these jobs is high, so the smallest added qualification could tip the scales in one’s favor.
How it Works
Select a Resume Template
Choose Pre-Written Phrases
Download, Print and Apply
How to Format a Standard CV
While much of what belongs on a CV also belongs on a traditional resume, there are a number of additional sections unique to the former. Below you’ll find a detailed example of what you might find on a highly experienced candidate’s CV. Keep in mind that your own CV might not need every listed section or display each section in the same order.
- 1. Contact Information A must-have for every CV, employers need clear and correct contact information from every applicant. While full mailing addresses are no longer necessary, they won’t be able to tell you you’re hired without an easily reachable phone number and professional-sounding email address.
- 2. Professional Summary A professional summary offers recruiters a brief overview of your top career highlights relevant to the position at hand. Ideally, you should use language lifted from the job ad like “expertise in grammar, literature and linguistics” in this example. In three to five lines, lay out exactly why you’re the ideal candidate. Use data and metrics to show the impact of your work whenever possible.
- 3. Summary of Qualifications This short section uses several precisely phrased bullet points to illustrate your strongest skills in the context of this new position. Think of these as lengthier descriptions of the most important attributes that would otherwise belong on your skills list.
- 4. Key Skills Next, this section offers a more straightforward, bulleted list of your remaining job-relevant skills, or “key skills.” Again, it’s best if these directly reference the terms used in the job description.
- 5. Work History Here, you’ll list your past employers, job titles, length of each job and where the jobs were performed. Beneath these, beyond only mentioning past job responsibilities, include quantifiable metrics to demonstrate precisely what you contributed to past employers, like “Supervised academic work of 60 students …”
- 6. Education and Training The sections detailing one’s education are critical on a CV. Not only does this example list a Master’s and Ph.D., it goes further by adding mention of their “Advisory Program” since it’s a substantial part of their academic background. Notice how no undergraduate degree is listed, much like how you might not list a lower-level job held many years ago.
- 7. Affiliations Use a section like this to highlight which major, industry-relevant associations you’re a part of or have worked directly with. These associations can carry much weight in certain industries.
- 8. Awards Here, list any awards relevant to the job to which you’re applying, that speak to your skill set as it relates to the job, or that further emphasize your academic and professional achievements.
- 9. Certifications Any certifications or credentials you have earned outside of your formal education belong here. For example, an entry-level clinical researcher may indicate they’re a Certified Clinical Research Associate (CCRA), just as a technical writer working in healthcare would show they’re Medical Writer Certified (MWC).
- 10. Conferences Listing conferences attended, especially if you’ve delivered talks or presented work there, communicates yet another level of prestige or clout in your field. At a more basic level, this shows your commitment to taking a more holistic interest in your industry through networking, learning from peers and more.
- 11. Grants and Fellowships Similar to “Awards” and common in fields like academia, medicine or law, here you’d list financial grants or admittance into fellowships. This shows new employers that you’ve proven yourself to influential people in your field, who then rewarded you based on your merit. In the CV example above, the applicant received this kind of recognition three times over nine years of their career.
- 12. Publications Here, list research papers or other published writing related to your work. This high-achieving English professor included their last four published pieces consisting of fiction, poetry and test-preparation guides.
CV Success Stories
CV Format FAQ
How long should my CV be?
Most CVs, like most resumes, should only be one-page long. Only if an applicant has roughly a decade or more of relevant experience should they extend to a second page, no matter which type of document they use.
How do you list skills on a CV?
A job seeker should list skills on their CV virtually identically to how they would on a resume. Most hiring managers might typically expect a bulleted list of six to 10 skills, though the exact number will depend on the job. CVs can generally be more thorough than a resume, however, so listing all of your qualifications on a CV (versus only what’s precisely relevant, like on a resume) may result in a longer skills list.
What should not be included in a CV?
Since “CV” is typically synonymous with “resume,” don’t assume you should include any additional information unless you know it’s desired by an employer. However, since these kinds of extra sections are often expected by American employers who accept CVs, start by taking cues from the list above. “Affiliations,” “Certifications” and “Publications” may be common choices.