What Is a CV or Curriculum Vitae?

A key component of every jobseeker’s portfolio is a curriculum vitae, most commonly known as a CV. While a resume may be the go-to “calling card” for many candidates to send out to recruiters and hiring managers during a job search, the reality is that certain employers, fields or locations may prefer or require a CV to present your professional background. Read on to learn more about CVs, including the following:

— What Is a CV?

— CV vs. Resume: What’s the Difference?

— CV Formatting and Tips.

— Sample CV.

What Is a CV?

But what is a CV, exactly? A CV provides extensive information and details about your professional background — in particular, about your credentials. These credentials should always include your education, degrees earned, professional training and industry-specific certifications. Depending on your line of work, job level and years of experience, your CV might additionally include sections about your publications, honors and awards, grants and fellowships, professional memberships and associations, speaking engagements and conference presentations, research projects, licenses and patents, teaching experience, volunteer work and other business affiliations. CVs also include basic information such as your contact information, skills and job experience.

CV vs. Resume

When you’re considering whether you need a CV or a resume, you must have a clear idea of the differences between these two documents, as well as when it’s most appropriate to use each one. David Wiacek, a New York-based executive resume writer and founder of Career Fixer, notes that the more detailed approach of a curriculum vitae reflects the word’s meaning: course of life. He notes that CVs in many countries often include very detailed information about the candidate, even sometimes including birth date, marital status and photos.

“Whereas a resume is a synopsis or targeted snapshot of your professional life that is tailored to a particular job, a CV tends to be a more comprehensive document that captures everything and the kitchen sink: not just work experience and education, but all of a candidate’s credentials, licenses, public speaking engagements, exhibits and installations (for artists), publications and so on,” Wiacek said.

With that in mind, one key distinction is that while a CV focuses on your professional credentials, a resume hones in on your skills or competencies. Another difference is that the bulk of a resume generally consists of a sequential list of your job experience — starting with your current or most recent position — with shorter sections on your competencies and education.

[Read: Tips for a Career Change Resume]

A CV, on the other hand, contains a greater variety of subsections detailing various types of certifications, publications, awards, affiliations and training. A CV is also usually longer than a resume, and routinely stretches for three to five pages, while a resume is often expected to be limited to one page for junior-level candidates and two pages for senior-level candidates.

If you’re unsure whether to submit a CV or a resume, be sure to look closely at the job listing or ask your recruiter. Some employers and industries will specify that candidates should submit a CV instead of a resume or vice versa. Certain research-based fields, such as health care or teaching, may prefer or require CVs, not resumes. Resumes, according to Wiacek, are typically used to apply to for industry roles outside of academia (think: for-profit, corporate, nonprofit or even government jobs).

Wiacek advised candidates to always refer to the instructions when applying online. “If the instructions do not specify which type of document is required, chances are they expect a simple resume,” he explained. “But do your research — don’t leave a great job prospect up to mere chance.”

See the different components of a sample CV below, along with some advice about how to best leverage each section of the CV format.

[READ: 15 Resume Mistakes to Avoid.]

CV Format and CV Tips

While no two CVs are identical, most curriculum vitae include the following 10 sections:

Contact Information: Employers first and foremost need to know how to find information about you and be able to reach you. Always include your first and last name, phone number and email address. Consider including your mailing address and website or LinkedIn URL.

Education: Starting with your most recent educational programs, include schools attended, degrees obtained, and other professional training. Graduation dates are not required and it may be better to omit them if you graduated more than a decade ago to avoid potential age bias on the part of the hiring team.

Professional Experience: For each position you’ve held, starting with your current or most recent position. List the following basics, which mirror a resume:

— Company name.

— Your job title.

— Dates of employment.

— Responsibilities.

In a CV, you can add more detail about your job responsibilities than you include in a resume — especially when it comes to describing the measurable impact your actions made on the company or business. Think in terms of quantitative ways to show how you improved a department, function or process, whether by a percentage or dollar amount. And while a resume primarily focuses on hard skills, you have more leeway to add details about your soft skills in a CV as well.

Research Interests: If your profession incorporates a research function, such as teaching or science, list all applicable areas of your research focus.

Field Work Experience: If your profession requires field work, such as biology or sociology, list all field work completed by project name, location and date.

Publications/Presentations: Unlike in a resume, it’s very common in a CV to include a full or partial list of your key publications if you’ve published books, articles or studies in your field. List article/book titles, journal/publication names and dates of publication. Likewise, if you do any public speaking in your industry, be sure to note your speaking engagements by date, location and title of the presentation.

Grants/Fellowships: Your CV should include a full list of any grants or fellowships you’ve received, including the name and the date received.

Honors/Awards: List the names of honors or awards and date received.

Professional Memberships/Associations: As part of providing a complete picture of your industry involvement, list the names of the organizations and dates of memberships for all professional memberships and associations that you’re currently participating in, or that you previously joined.

Other Professional Affiliations: As above, list the organization name and dates of membership for any other professional affiliations.

[READ: 10 Communication Skills for Your Resume.]

Sample CV

See below for a curriculum vitae template from Matthew Warzel, president of resume and CV writing firm MJW Careers, that you can use to frame and develop your own CV with your specific professional details:

Sally Smith

666-444-5555 Sally.Smith@abc.com


Ph.D. in Psychology, Iowa University, 2019

Dissertation: “The Experience of Manufacturing in America” Honors: Graduation with distinction | President’s List | 3.8 GPA

M.S. in Criminal Justice, Arizona University, 2013

Thesis: “Providing Counseling to Inner City Youth”

Honors: Graduation with distinction | President’s List | 3.8 GPA

B.A. in Management, New York University, 2002

Professional Experience

VERIFY, San Francisco, CA | 2018 to Present

Director of Employee Experience

— Held leadership position within a nonprofit setting whose mission is to provide opportunities for members to develop positive emotions.

— Develop the strategic direction for the program and facilitate programs related to authenticity and purpose.

FINANCIAL LIFE, New York, NY | 2018 to Present Talent Manager

— Coordinate and develop projects with employees to ensure effectiveness of training, intervention, and documentation initiatives.

— Manage the logistics of projects by way of meetings, cross-communications and formal presentations to exchange information.

Research Interests

To further explore the connections between psychological theories and concepts with human behavior, interpreting the rich interdependencies which exist between instructional design, applications of teaching methodologies and student learning.

Strong interest in developing empirically supported research to translate data into practical implications for ethical and effective psychological practices and programs while introducing illuminating perspectives on emerging phenomena.

Field Experience

FAMILY SERVICES — Brown University, New York, NY | 2016 to 2018

Care Educator (2017-2018)

— In partnership with Brown University, disseminated program model and philosophy which taught a holistic approach when supporting direct care staff, children and adolescents toward achievement of measurable improvements.

— Engaged students to achieve active participation and richer classroom feedback loops.

Trainer/Educator (2016-2018)

— Developed and taught courses including: Multicultural Competence, Inclusion, and Humility, Administration, Use, and Interpretation of Psychological Assessment Tools.

— Helped individual students meet learning objectives, including how to apply classroom topics to unique scenarios.

Publications & Presentations

— Smith, S. (2018, October). Creating a culture of committed millennials. Advanced Research Institute Business Journal, Insight, 22-23.

— Smith, S. (March, October). The experience of meaning in work for millennials. CareOne. Dissertation.

Grants & Fellowships


Contributions led to the successful procurement of the following grants:

Wilma Endowment Grant, General Child & Family Focus, 2018

Darell Foundation Grant, General Child & Family Focus, 2016-2018


Research Fellowship, Advanced Research Institute, 2016-2018

Honors & Awards

— “PROS to KNOW” Award — Supply and Demand Chain Executive Magazine

— Outstanding Corporate Citizen Honoree — WWEX Global Logistics & Bear Ventures

— “40 UNDER 40” Leadership Award — The Triangle Business Journal (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill)

Professional Memberships/Associations

Member: American Marketing Association (AMA)

Member: Chi Sigma International Honor Society Activity Clubs: United Way

More from U.S. News

20 Jobs That Pay $80K or More

10 Best Part-Time Jobs to Pay the Bills

15 Qualities of Bad Managers

What Is a CV or Curriculum Vitae? originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 04/21/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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