Developing Your Career

Developing Your Career

What’s a CV and Do I Need One?

By Greg Simpson on November 6, 2013

During the course of your job search, you may have been asked to send your “resume or CV.” What exactly is a CV and how does it differ from a resume?  Translated from the French, the word resume means “summary” whereas in Latin, curriculum vitae (CV) is literally “the course of one’s life.”  So a curriculum vitae (CV) is similar to a resume, but is much more detailed.  Once almost exclusively related to academia, the three- or four-page CV has gained in popularity for other positions, especially those requiring an advanced or professional degree – medical doctors, researchers, educators, attorneys, high-level technology developers, or engineers.  The CV is designed to delineate your academic identity, but should only be used when requested.

What should a CV include? A CV should list academic and professional skills, qualifications and achievements and should be tailored for each target organization to which you apply. Emphasize your achievements and skills which match the specific area of the company’s requirements.  The content, order and format should be customized to the potential employer’s priorities, your own career experience, and your objectives. Just like a resume, skills and achievements must be specific, measurable, and action-oriented.

In addition to the usual resume information (contact information, employment experience, education, fluency in foreign language), a traditional CV may also include the following sections:

  • Academic achievement: Highlight courses or research relevant to your objective. Include dissertation, post-graduate courses or continuing education.
  • Fellowships and Internships: List field of research, locations, title, specialties, dates.
  • Patents:  Patent number, date, description, company assigned.
  • Licensure/Certifications: If applicable, list type of license or certification, date received.
  • Presentations and Publications: List publications, publisher and date or presentations, event and date.
  • Grants and Awards: List any research grants and special awards.
  • Professional Affiliations: List all professional memberships.
  • Volunteer participation: List any relevant community involvement, volunteers work, special skills, and personal interest that relate to the position.

As your career progresses, it’s important to keep a meticulous record of your achievements, publications, licenses/certifications, etc. so you’ll be prepared to develop a powerful CV when the need arises.

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