What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

Definition & Examples of a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Young man working on his curriculum vitae.
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A curriculum vitae (CV) is a comprehensive document that lists your qualifications for employment. It's primarily used for academic positions.

Learn more about a curriculum vitae and when to use one.

What Is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

A curriculum vitae works in much the same way as a resume, providing information about an individual's educational and work history. Often called a CV for short, it's much more comprehensive than the typical resume and can be much longer.

There's no limit to how long a CV can be, but it must be focused on academic and professional experience. A lengthy CV isn't any better than a short one if it contains fluff or irrelevant data.

A job applicant seeking an academic position, like a teaching appointment at a college or university or a research position, should always use a CV. If you're unsure whether a prospective employer wants a resume or CV, use the job announcement to guide you. It will usually state which document the institution wants.

  • Acronym: CV

How a Curriculum Vitae (CV) Works

A CV begins with your contact information, including your name, address, telephone number, and email address. You should also indicate your area or areas of academic interest. 

Your CV should include a comprehensive account of your academic history, including the title of your dissertation or thesis. It must also contain details about all publications, research projects, and presentations to which you have contributed. You should also list any grants, academic awards, and other related honors you've received.

The employment and experience section of your CV should contain teaching and research positions, both paid and unpaid. In addition to jobs, include any relevant internships and volunteer experiences here. Following that section, discuss memberships in scholarly and professional associations and include offices you have held, if any.

Finally, provide a list of references, along with their contact information, on your curriculum vitae. Doing this is in contrast to a resume, which never contains this information.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) vs. Resume

A resume is a summary of your background and experience. Its emphasis is on your work experience. A CV is much more comprehensive, providing details about your academic background. Resumes are typically two pages or less, while CVs can be as long as needed to convey your academic background and experience.

CVs are used for academic positions, and the format can vary as long as it includes all the information your prospective employer requires. Resumes are used for most other positions and follow a few standard templates.

CV Resume
Comprehensive list of your academic and professional experience Summary of your relevant work experience
Can be multiple pages Typically two pages or less
Used for academic positions Used for most employment applications

Developing a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

If you already have a resume, it can be a good starting point for developing a CV. You can also use templates and examples from colleagues in your field. Follow these few tips for writing your CV:

  • Check the format: Consult the job announcement to see what format an employer wants your CV to be in. If it isn't indicated there, use a standard one, like .docx or a PDF.
  • Keep it professional: Make sure you use an email address that sounds professional. A silly or suggestive one could get your CV tossed.
  • Proofread twice: Check and then double-check for any typos, misspellings, grammatical errors, or other mistakes. Have someone proofread your CV for you.

Keep your CV targeted and use concise language to get your experience across to the reader. Your CV should tell your prospective employer the story of your academic career and why you're the one who can best fill their needs for the position.

Key Takeaways

  • A CV is a comprehensive document that lists your qualifications. It’s primarily used for academic positions. 
  • It’s more detailed than a resume and can be as long as needed.
  • A CV should include your contact information, academic history, publication credits, and relevant employment and volunteer experiences. 
  • Have a friend or colleague proofread your CV.
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