What is a curriculum vitae?
A CV is a document that outlines a person’s educational and professional history. It’s typically used when applying to graduate school or for an academic position in teaching or research. This can also include applying for a fellowship or grant. In addition to education, job history and professional experience, a CV usually includes things like qualifications and skills, awards and honors, teaching experience, publications and presentations, professional associations, grants and scholarships, licenses and certifications.
Both a resumé and CV tell the story of your professional background, but the distinction is that a CV is a much more exhaustive listing of career achievements. Think of a CV as a complete account of everything that qualifies you as an expert in your field. With a resumé, you would tailor your professional experience to fit the requirements of the position.
What to include in your curriculum vitae
Your CV should have several key pieces of information to provide a complete overview of your professional experience, including your contact information, education details, skills and job history. Those, however, are just the basics. You also want to include awards and honors, leadership experience, publications and presentations, professional associations, licenses and certifications.
Provide basic contact information on your CV. Include your full name, phone number, location and email. Many applicants also include their LinkedIn profiles to help employers learn more about them.
You can also include your website or digital portfolio to provide additional background on your work experience. Linking to a professional website or portfolio gives hiring managers a chance to learn more about you, your accomplishments and anything else you want them to know.
Your CV should clearly showcase your educational credentials. This encompasses any level of college education you have, alongside any type of certificate program you’ve completed. If you’re currently completing a degree program or a professional credential, add it to your CV with the anticipated completion date. This lets employers know when you’ll be fully certified for their position.
Even if you haven’t completed a degree or certification program, you can still optimize your CV in a way that highlights your skills and qualifications. Add any vocational or technical training you’ve received, even if it’s not completed yet. You can also list training sessions and workshops that provide some of the same skills you’d gain in a college program.
One of the most important functions of your CV is to list your skills. This helps employers identify overlaps between your experience and their open position. Be specific about the skills you’ve gained and provide examples that demonstrate how you’ve used your skills to help previous employers.
Make sure to highlight skills that would be applicable in your next position. Read through job listings to identify the skills that current employers are looking for, then prominently list any of yours that align.
Hard skills — specific technical abilities that help you complete tasks — form the backbone of a CV. These skills usually can be quantified and measured. For example, you might highlight specific computer programming languages you worked with or particular algorithms you implemented. This is your opportunity to add any facts or figures that represent your success at a past position.
Soft skills — non-technical skills that help you interact with others — are also vital when creating a complete CV.
Soft skills help you stand out to potential employers in different ways. For example, describe soft skills that demonstrate your leadership abilities, communication skills, time management capabilities and any other strategies you use to solve problems and collaborate with co-workers.
Potential employers want to see how your past experience might contribute to your next role. Listing work experience helps employers understand where you’ve worked, what you accomplished, how you’ve grown as an employee and why you’ve decided to find a new position.
While relevant work experience belongs on your CV, you should include all of your work experience even if it’s not directly related to the position or field so you can highlight a variety of skills. Add experience that employers can read, understand and verify. For example, you might add a list of academic works you’ve published, scholarships or grants you’ve received, work benchmarks you’ve achieved or awards you’ve won. You can also list professional or academic associations you’ve joined and contributed to.