What is a CV?
A CV (also known as a curriculum vitae) is a comprehensive document that provides an overview of your top skills, previous work achievements, and academic background. Job applicants are often required to submit CVs for academic jobs or positions that require specific educational experience (e.g., doctor).
1. What makes a good CV?
The content of your CV should be geared to answer the most important question: why you’re the best person for the job. Call out educational achievements and training that tie in with the job’s needs, and make sure your CV is organized into clear sections, as in our examples on this page. Take the time to double-check spelling and grammar and that your presentation is clear and uncluttered in the file format you choose to save your CV in (such as Microsoft Word or PDF). You can use our Resume Builder and leave the heavy lifting on many of these issues to us.
2. What is ATS, and how can I be sure my CV is ATS-friendly?
Employers often use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan CVs and give them a passing grade based on how well the content in the CV matches what the job needs. To pass ATS, follow these steps:
- Look over the job description and list out key skills and job responsibilities.
- Make sure you address these skills and responsibilities in your CV (for example, emphasizing your education credentials and achievements in political science for a political science position).
- Use a straightforward, readable layout for your CV, using standard headings (e.g., “Work History” or “Awards and Recognitions”) — this avoids any issues with ATS being unable to read your CV.
- For more ATS pointers, see our ATS tips article.
3. How long should a CV be?
CVs are more flexible than resumes when it comes to length. Usually, two to three pages are enough room to communicate all of your credentials and qualifications, but if you have more details about your academic background or achievements that you want to share, such as a long list of publications, don’t be afraid of writing a longer document. Just make sure that the details you provide either reinforce your expertise for the job you’re applying for or show off skills and work experiences that fit the job.
4. How do I write a CV for my first job?
If you’re applying for your first job, you’ll likely be short on professional experiences. Instead, focus on activities or projects that relate to the job you want. For example, if you’re applying for a job that places high value on research and data organization, you could highlight an internship or volunteer experience in which you managed data. You should also organize your CV around your skills and training, highlighting abilities and traits that are relevant to the job (e.g., degrees and certifications in a particular field, or your proficiency and/or experience with specific software).
5. How can I get help creating my CV?
Get started by checking out our CV examples and CV templates, which provide plenty of guidance on constructing your own CV. You can use any of these examples and templates to create a CV — just pick one, and we’ll walk you through the creation process, step by step. You can also visit our career center for more articles and tips for polishing up each section of your CV, from your summary to your education section.