“Um, what is a CV?” is a question job seekers often find themselves asking. Approach 10 professionals, and odds are high only one or two can tell you the real answer. Good news, you’re about to be one of those few people who know not just what the letters stand for, but how the CV compares to a resume, and whether or not you should have one.
Curriculum Vitae, more commonly referred to by its shorthand abbreviation CV (a Latin term meaning course of life), got tossed around a lot when I was in graduate school. I’m pretty sure I pretended to know what it meant the first time I heard it, only to go home to Google and educate myself before it came up in casual conversation again.
I quickly learned that dissertation-defending PhDs didn’t have resumes, they had CVs. Unlike the resume, which lists work history and experiences, along with a brief summary of your skills and education, the CV is a far more comprehensive document. It goes above and beyond a mention of education and work experience and often lists—in thoughtful detail—your achievements, awards, honors, and publications, stuff universities care about when they’re hiring teaching staff. Unlike a resume, which is rarely longer than a one-sided single page, the CV can be two, six, or 12 pages—depending on your professional achievements.
Let’s go over some basics of the CV versus resume.
What is a CV?
A CV (also known as a Curriculum Vitae, or résumé), is a written overview of your skills, education, and work experience.
They may be used for a variety of reasons, however, the most common of these is to send to prospective employers when looking for a new job.
What should a CV include?
Although there’s no official CV structure, certain key information should always be included.
Here a few essential things you should aim to cover in your CV:
- Your personal details (e.g. name, address, phone number)
- A personal statement (a brief personal summary of who you are and what you’re looking for)
- Relevant key skills
- Work experience (listed in reverse chronological order – with the most recent coming first)
- Education and qualifications (listed in reverse chronological order)
- Hobbies and interests (if you think they might help you get the job)
- References (often available on request)
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