Curriculum Vitae

A document that showcases the academic and professional accomplishment of a job applicant

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What is a Curriculum Vitae?

A curriculum vitae, often abbreviated as CV, is a document that job applicants use to showcase their academic and professional accomplishments. It is used to apply for positions within areas where a person’s specific knowledge or expertise is required. A curriculum vitae is usually longer than a resume and must include the information that the recruiter needs to verify the skills, experience, and educational qualifications of an applicant.

Curriculum Vitae

In many countries, a CV is usually the first document that a prospective employer looks at when screening candidates for job interviews, scholarship programs, grant applications, or bursaries. When sending a curriculum vitae and other application documents to the employer, some applicants may choose to send physical copies of the document through registered mail, or electronically through email, depending on what the prospective employer indicated on the job advertisement.

What to Include in Your CV

The information included in the CV may vary from one applicant to another, since some applicants may choose to include only the information that is relevant to the job they are applying for. The following are the typical components of a curriculum vitae:

1. Personal information

At the top of the curriculum vitae, write your full name and contact information such as phone number, email address, registered mail address, etc.

2. Education

Education information includes a list of the education programs you pursued and the years and name of the institution you attended. Ideally, you should include information on college, graduate school, and post-graduate schools you attended, the courses you pursued, and the year when you graduated from the program.

Some employers may also require you to indicate the grades/awards you obtained at various education levels. Employers use the education information to determine if your professional qualifications match the job requirements of the position you are applying for.

3. Work experience

The work experience section requires you to list your recent work experience that is relevant to the position you are applying for. For each position you’ve previously held, indicate the name of the employer (company), your specific roles, and the duration of the employment.

Also, make sure to give a summary of the duties you performed at each company and any accomplishments/awards given by the employer. List the relevant work experience starting from the most recent positions you held.

4. Honors and awards

If you’ve been given any awards either at the academic level or during your previous employment, list them here. The awards may include dean awards, honorary degrees, presidential awards, professional certifications or awards, or awards given by an employer for excellence.

5. Skills

If you possess certain skills and you have not mentioned them in the other sections in the curriculum vitae, list them here. The skills may include language skills, computer skills, driving skills, advanced software skills, etc. They should be relevant to the job you are applying for.

6. Publications and presentations

If you’ve published academic or conference papers, you should list them in this section. You should include papers that you have solely written, those co-authored with other people, as well as those you have contributed to. Remember to indicate the name of the papers, year of publication, and names of co-authors, if applicable.

Also, include papers that have been presented during conferences and associations, and indicate the name of the paper, the name of the conference, and the date when the paper was presented. This section is included when applying for an academic position.

7. Professional memberships

The prospective employer may require the applicants to be members of specific professional bodies. This section mostly applies to select positions such as accountants, engineers, surveyors, IT professionals, etc. List all the professional bodies and associations that you belong to and the status of your membership.

How to Format a CV

The following are some of the rules that you should follow when formatting your curriculum vitae:

1. Length

The CV should not be too long and not too short. The length of the CV depends on the education and working experience you have amassed over the years. For entry-level positions, the CV length can be one to two pages, while the length can go up to 10 pages for positions that require higher qualifications and more experienced personnel.

2. Font size

When writing a curriculum vitae, use a font that is easy to read and apply it to the whole document. The recommended font styles include Arial, Calibri, Cambria and Times New Roman. The font size should be between 10 to 12 points. The headings should be boldened to distinguish them from the other information and make the CV organized.

3. Proper grammar and spelling

Sending a CV that has spelling, tense, or grammar errors would only serve to spoil your chances of getting shortlisted for an interview. Before sending the CV to your prospective employer, make sure to check it several times to correct any errors. Alternatively, ask a friend to review the CV for any errors.

Curriculum Vitae vs. Resume

While both CVs and resumes are used by people applying for jobs, a CV is most often used by someone with published works and research. A resume, on the other hand, is usually only one page long, and the information included is not as detailed. A resume still includes the individual’s work history, educational background, skills, career objectives, and other personal information.

Admittedly, even knowing the differences and similarities between the two documents, deciding which one to use for what still seems to be difficult. So here are some points to remember:

  1. Anyone who is from the US and Canada knows that most employers and recruiters require a resume. After all, not everyone wants to spend the time delving into a three-page curriculum vitae when they can ask questions during the interview itself. Anyone applying for a job in the US and Canada is expected to submit a resume.
  2. Most European countries, such as the UK and Ireland, use the curriculum vitae extensively, taking the European Union CV format as a template. New Zealand also prefers to use it more than the resume.
  3. Australia, South Africa, and India adhere to a different set of “rules” on the use of the two documents, citing that the curriculum vitae and the resume can be used interchangeably. However, it is common to find in these countries that the CV is used when applying for a job in the private sector and the resume for jobs in public service.

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