Crafting Your Curriculum Vitae

Today we are going to discuss the ins and outs of a curriculum vitae – more commonly known as a CV.  Meaning, we are going to discuss what it is, especially as it compares to a resume; when it is appropriate to include one; and how, precisely, to write one.

First, let’s discuss the ways in which a curriculum vitae and a resume are different.  Primarily, the difference between a CV and a resume pertain to the length, the content, and the purpose of each document.  Your resume should be one of two pages long.  It is just an overview of your skills, your experience, and your education.  Whether you are writing a chronological resume or a different type, your main goal is to be as concise and precise as possible.  You do not want your potential employer to spend too much time reading it – maybe because he or she will not.  At that stage, employers likely have at least hundreds of other applicants to get through, they go quickly.  As such, you need to catch their attention and pique their interest in a short span of words and space.

However, your curriculum vitae can – and should – be altogether longer.  Whereas a resume should never be longer than two pages, your CV can.  This gives you the opportunity to present a more detailed summary of your past work experience, your education, and any special abilities.  You can also include any teaching experience and research experience you have had.  Furthermore, you can highlight any publications or presentations in which your work has been, along with any awards, honors, affiliations, or a number of other facts.

Even more important than CV format is knowing when, precisely, you need to use one.  Within the United States, it is generally used by applicants who are interested in international positions, academic and education positions, or research and scientific positions.  It is also used when you apply for fellowships and grants.  Different positions may include a different CV format.

Keep in mind that employers in Europe, Asia, and Africa will actually be interested in your personal information – the kind that you would probably never include if you were applying for a similar position in the United States.  That includes your date of birth, your place of birth, and your nationality.  When actually true, such CV tips could actually mean the difference between getting a position and getting passed over.

Otherwise, your curriculum vitae will generally contain similar elements no matter where you are applying.  The tradition CV format includes, in this order: your name; your contact information; your educational background; and your skills and experience.  You can also include other elements, such as any experience you have had researching or teaching, any publications, grants, fellowships, professional associations, licenses, awards, or other pertinent information which applies to your desired position.  Here, you are free to detail all of your accomplishments.  Anything that you think might make you a better candidate can go here.  For example, if you are applying somewhere as an intern and you were a candy striper or a hospital volunteer when you were younger, be sure to mention it!