How to Write a CV (Curriculum Vitae): The Deluxe Resume

CV (Curriculum Vitae): The Deluxe Resume Written by Neil O’Donnell Published July 28th, 2017 Neil O’Donnell, CPCC is a nationally certified career coach whose experience includes over 15 years of career counseling experience in addition to his having written thousands of resumes and cover letters. Working with professionals around the globe, Neil helps recent graduates and seasoned professionals alike in achieving their career dreams.
Have you ever heard a professional mention her CV? Or have you ever been asked for a copy of your CV, all the while wondering what the heck a CV was? You’re not alone. What is a CV? CV is short for “Curriculum Vitae,” a document that details someone’s work history and related accomplishments. Now, you might just be thinking that a CV is simply another way of saying resume. Many believe that, but such thinking is in error. A CV is a comprehensive listing of experience entailing a thorough documenting of a professional’s accomplishments. What’s the Difference between CV and Resume? I often refer to CVs as resumes on steroids to my clients and students, and for good reason, as the CV differs from a resume in the following ways:
  • Length A resume should be one to two pages–no more. A CV, meanwhile, is usually three pages in length with more seasoned professionals ending up late in their career with a CV that is six to seven pages. That’s quite a huge document to say the least, but for those in fields that require a CV, sometimes anything less than three to four pages will suggest a professional does not have ample experience.
  • Details Like a resume, a CV documents work history. However, where a resume often focuses on the last ten to fifteen years of employment, a CV documents all relevant experience.
For those with more than twenty years of experience, we still list our initial jobs on our CV as long as the work is relevant to our profession. That’s the main reason why CVs dwarf resumes when it comes to length. In addition to an extensive documenting of work history, CVs list accomplishments including papers published, classes taught, papers presented, and continuing education completions. A resume may include such details, but usually such details are listed at a minimum. For professionals needing a CV, their list of publications, papers presented, patents, and similar accomplishments should take up 25% to 33% of the CV. For those with less experience, it’s really difficult to get interviews, let alone an actual job in the field. When do I use a CV over a Resume? So, who needs a CV? Truthfully, most professionals will only ever need a resume when applying for a job. The CV is ultimately the tool of academics, scientists, and other professionals who are expected to contribute to the development of their field including:
  • Archaeologists
  • Biologists
  • C-Level Business Executives
  • Chemists
  • Cultural Anthropologists
  • Education Industry Administrators
  • Historians
  • Medical Doctors
  • Physicists
  • Professors (any field)
  • Psychologists
  • Sociologists
  • Software Developers
How do you know if you should develop a CV? Ask professors while in college or seek out advice from seasoned professionals within your field. Personnel in human resources should also be able to give you direction in this regard. How to write an outline of a CV As with resumes, there is a range of ideas amongst professional career coaches and resume writers as to what information should be included within the text of a CV. From my time as a career coach/resume writer, in addition to chairing or serving on hiring committees, the following are categories to definitely consider for a CV: Heading
  • D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
  • D. (Doctor of Psychology)
  • D. (Doctor of Medicine)
  • A. (Master of Arts)
  • S. (Master of Science)
  • S.Ed (Master of Science in Education)
  • CPCC (Certified Professional Career Coach)
  • CRW (Certified Resume Writer)
  • CSMC (Certified Stress Management Coach)
  • LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor)
  • RN (Registered Nurse)
  • RPA (Registered Professional Archaeologist)
Yes, like a resume, you need a listing of your contact information. On a CV, it’s a smart move to include one to two identifiers after your name which denote expertise or advanced degrees (not so necessary on a resume). These identifiers include the following: Most of these designations are attained through rigorous training and education programs in addition to regular college degrees. For those with more than two such credentials, just list the two most relevant to the position you are applying to. For those with no graduate degree (master’s or doctorate), skip writing B.A. or B.S. (Bachelor of Arts or Science) after your name. Many see the use of that designation as ridiculous. For that matter, indicating a master’s degree is frowned upon by many career professionals. However, after years on hiring committees, I find that most committee members have no issue with a candidate listing their mater’s credential. Education Listing education is very important in order to show you have the educational foundation required for the job, just as with a resume. But on a CV, the education section usually contains advanced degrees (above a bachelor’s) and certificates or certifications attained in addition to traditional college degrees. While you should only list up to two credentials after your name in the heading, the education section should include all relevant training. Profile or Summary of Qualifications As with a resume, I recommend job seekers include either a “Summary of Qualifications” section or a professional summary. These sections should be adjusted to each job applied to, listing relevant training, field experience, and accomplishments. On a CV, the list can be a bit longer than on a resume, but a full page is likely overkill. Core Competencies In addition to a professional summary or summary of qualifications, a “Core Competencies” section is worth considering (on a resume such a section is usually not advisable as space is limited). This is essentially a listing of specific specialties a professional has, a listing of one or a few words to identify special expertise (written in three to five columns no more than five lines in depth). This is a good section for listing technological proficiencies in addition to expertise the job ad identifies as either required or preferred credentials. For an example, review the following hypothetical list of competencies for a tax specialist: Experience This section is similar to a resume, but the list should include most if not all experience relevant to the position applied to. After the above sections, a CV should include a listing of publications, papers presented, and professional affiliations, the latter listing professional organizations you belong to which are relevant to the position you’re applying to. On resumes, these sections may or may not be included; it depends on the position applied to. Regarding publications, the listing of publications relevant to the position applied to is key (listing that you published multiple novels will not necessarily make any difference when applying for a professorship in biology). As for professional affiliations not connected to the job being applied to, be careful what you list. Applying for a job that requires a CV is probably not the best place to list your affiliation with the Society for Creative Anachronism (although for fellow anthropologists or even historians, this would likely not be an issue). With the above outline, it’s easy to see how a CV grows to be multiple pages in length. For those in the early stages of their career, it’s always good to keep detailed records of all the above experience you compile just in case you’re asked to provide a CV instead of a resume.