Your Future Plan: What is a CV?

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Whether you are thinking about applying to colleges, ready to graduate or already a part of the workforce, you may have heard about the CV. What is a CV? The CV can be the key to getting into the school of your dreams or landing the job that you want.

You might be wondering, what does CV stand for? It’s an abbreviation for curriculum vitae. This important document contains all of the information that a college or employer might need to know about you.

Now you’re probably wondering what is CV and why do I need one? The CV is a document that contains important information for employers. Companies in both the United States and internationally may require you to submit a CV when applying for a job. Some colleges also require a CV as part of the application process for graduate school.

Read on to find out more about what a CV is and how to create one for yourself.

What is a Curriculum Vitae?

So what is a CV? The curriculum vitae is basically a document that shows all of your education, teaching, research, and work experience. The CV is typically used when applying for a position in higher education or when applying to graduate school programs, but some other employers will require that you submit a CV instead of a resume.

What’s the Difference Between CV and Resume?

CVs and resumes have a lot in common. In fact, they both contain a lot of the same information, and the terms are often used interchangeably. But there is no such thing as a resume CV. These two separate documents have a slightly different focus, and each contain a different amount of information.

The resume highlights only what experience is relevant to the particular position that you’re applying for. The CV, on the other hand, contains a lot more information and acts as a collection of all of your qualifications and experience.

Be careful that you do not provide a resume when the institution or employer requires a CV. The resume does not contain all of the information that an employer or college would get from the CV.

How to Write a CV

There are many parts that are important to include in your CV. The guide below shows the most common elements that are included on a CV for students who are applying to a graduate program. If a CV is required for your job, include the elements that are relevant to the position.

  • EducationList all of the institutions where you earned a degree. If you spent more than a year at a particular institution but did not earn a degree, you can include that here as well. Include any specific coursework that you completed that is relevant to the graduate program or job opportunity.
  • Academic Honors & Awards – If your GPA is above 3.0, include that information on your CV, as well as making Dean’s List or President’s List. You can also include any scholarships that you received if they were highly competitive.
  • Research – Here is where you would put any significant research projects, particularly those that you worked with a professor on. Make sure that you include details about the purpose of the research and your role in the project. This is also where you can include your particular research interests, especially if they are relevant to the position.
  • Related Experience – Here you will include any job or internship experience that’s relevant to the position.
  • Related Skills – Include any skills that pertain to the graduate program or job.
  • Related Certifications – Just like skills, you will also want to provide any relevant certifications.
  • Professional Affiliations – If you are a member of any professional organizations that are related to your field, include those here.
  • Leadership Experience – Include any leadership roles that you have held both in the workplace and in any extracurricular or volunteer organizations.
  • Professional Development – Did you go to any industry conferences, conventions, or workshops? You can include those in this section.
  • Campus & Community Involvement – Add any clubs or organizations you are or were involved in, as well as any community service work you’ve done.
  • Other Work Experience – Include any other jobs that you’ve held that weren’t mentioned in the “related experience” section. You don’t need to include all of them, just the ones that were significant.

Do you need a CV or a Resume?

Not everyone needs to create a CV. Only certain industries will ask for a CV instead of a resume. For the most part, CVs are only required for positions in academia, such as teachers and writers, or positions that require research and publications, such as scientists or doctors. Certain graduate programs for Master’s degrees and PhDs will also require you to submit a CV as part of your admissions process.

The resume is the standard format that employers use in the United States for most positions outside of academics. What to include in a resume is very similar to what is in a CV, but the resume is much more simple and brief. That is why it’s important to check the job posting to see if you will be required to submit a CV or a resume. If you submit a CV instead of a resume, an employer might pass by your application.

Other CV Writing Tips

Much like the resume, you need to keep in mind that the CV is a professional document, so it should be formatted accordingly. Keep the following tips in mind while you polish your CV before submitting it:

  • Pick an easy to read font. As a professional document, the CV is not the place to get creative or experimental by using interesting fonts or colors. Stick with a standard font in black so that in the end, your final document gives the right impression.
  • Maintain consistent formatting. Though there is more than one way to format the CV, make sure that all of your formatting is consistent throughout the document. For example, if you make each section heading of your CV bold and in all capital letters, then you want to make sure that you do the same thing with all of the other sections.
  • Don’t include every job you’ve held. Remember, the CV is more concerned with education, research, and relevant industry experience. That summer job you had at the mall is probably not relevant to the college or employer that will be reading your CV.
  • Realize that the CV can sometimes be lengthy. Have you ever heard the advice to keep your resume to only one page for each ten years of experience? This is not the same for the CV. The CV is often longer than the resume because rather than selectively choosing which positions to highlight, the CV offers a more complete picture of your experience and educational background.

CV Templates and Examples

Sometimes it helps to use a template when you begin to write your CV. You can find templates online on various career websites. Make sure that you use a template which features consistent formatting. Also, be sure to delete any sections on the CV that do not apply to you. Leaving these sections in may give the wrong impression when you’re applying for a position with an employer or admission to a university.

It can also help to look at some samples of CVs to help you get started. When looking at samples, pay attention to what information is included and what information has been left out. Looking at a sample CV from your chosen field may be the most beneficial. These sample CVs can often be found on university websites.

The important thing to remember is that not all CVs look the same. Everyone’s education, experience, and accomplishments are different. Some CVs will be as long as 20 pages for those who have been in the field for a long time and published or presented a lot of research. For those just getting started, the CV may only be a couple of pages.

The goal is to present yourself in the best and most accurate way to your future institution or potential employer. Make sure that you include all of your relevant information, so that they can get a better idea of who you are and what you’ve accomplished.

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