The curriculum vitae is a professional document designed to present the entire scope and content of a professional’s career. This format is mostly used in medical or academic professions (and also overseas) so as to highlight research projects, journals, citations, etc. The format of a CV is similar to a professional resume; however, the CV is often much longer, being far more comprehensive, and generally includes details that a resume would not.
The CV allows for a more free flowing format and style than a standard resume, and each profession or field has variations on what’s included. There are certain standard features, however, that a CV should have, and certain strategies you should use to artfully present your information, including:
• Highlight the most relevant and sought after qualifications, skills, projects, and research right at the beginning, in order to grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers.
• An educational summary in reverse chronological order is recommended. For fresh or junior applicants, it is important to mention academic grades, internship credentials, awards, and dissertation summaries. For experienced and mid-career professionals, it is more important to mention citations and academic and research papers written or quoted, with clear mention of the journal or university to ensure the credibility of the claim and to augment the achievement.
• Brief summaries of the challenges and outcomes of important projects and research assignments is also important. The placement of these summaries should not disrupt the overall flow of the document.
• Unlike a resume, it is common to mention recommendations and references directly on a CV, alongside awards and medals. Make sure these are relevant to the position and don’t be afraid to name drop if you have recommendations from important people in the field.
• Avoid the temptation to overuse academic jargon unless it is relevant and helpful for explaining your credentials.
• A neat and crisp presentation is essential. It is not considered professional to add lots of colors, unusual fonts, or graphics to the document. Be judicious with your use of bullet points: while they are helpful for organizing content, too many will break up the flow of the text and make the document appear much longer than it actually is.
• While there is no defined length for a CV, and details are essential, do not allow the document to become too long. A very long CV does not reflect clarity of thought and busy hiring managers may only have a minute or two to read it. It is therefore important to highlight and emphasize the skills and background that clearly illustrate why you are the best candidate for the role.
• As this document represents the overall scope of your career, and is likely the first thing an organization will see, it is important that it contain honest, consistent, and accurate information. Make sure to spell check the document to ensure that no inadvertent errors have slipped in and be sure to avoid the temptation to expand or inflate your achievements.