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.
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. Below the contact information, include information that describes who you are.
Typical personal information may include gender, date of birth, government-issued identification number, marital status, and nationality. You may choose to include the personal details if they are relevant to the job you are applying for, or if your employer previously requested that information.
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.
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. Membership in professional bodies
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 Curriculum Vitae
The following are some of the rules that you should follow when formatting your curriculum vitae:
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.
Thank you for reading CFI’s guide to writing a curriculum vitae. CFI is the official provider of the global Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program, designed to help anyone become a world-class financial analyst. To keep advancing your career, the additional resources below will be useful: