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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).

The Components of a CV

Distinguished CV Part1

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  1. 1. Contact information:
    In addition to your name, email address, phone number and city and state of residence, include links to your professional portfolio or job network profile (e.g., LinkedIn).
  2. 2. Professional summary:
    In a few sentences, give an overview of your career and educational background, emphasizing training and skills that match the job’s needs.
  3. 3. Core qualifications:
    Feature a combination of key hard skills (technical training, certifications) and soft skills (intangible and interpersonal abilities).
  4. 4. Work history:
    Focus on achievements and major responsibilities rather than everyday duties, and show how you’ve used your best skills effectively.
Distinguished CV Part2

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  1. 5. Education:
    Feature a full rundown of your academic credentials, including specific coursework or projects that apply to your profession.
  2. 6. Additional sections:
    Create separate sections for “Conferences,” “Honors and Awards,” “Affiliations” and “Certifications” if you have credentials to show off in these areas.

CV vs. Resume

The major differences between a CV and a resume are in length and focus:

Resume

  • Usually one to two pages in length
  • “Snapshot” of your professional career highlights
  • Focuses on job-related skills and work history

CV

  • As long as necessary
  • Comprehensive summary of your professional and academic accomplishments
  • Includes notable academic qualifications, recognitions and achievements

If you need help creating or polishing up your resume, visit our resume section.

Note: For jobs outside the U.S. (e.g., in EU countries, the UK, or Asia), a “CV” is essentially the same as a resume, with one major difference: CVs for non-U.S. can be slightly longer than U.S. resumes (two to three pages instead of one to two pages), giving you more room to provide details on your education and work history.

5 Tips for Writing a Perfect CV

  • Search Job

    1. Research the job.

    Look over the job description carefully, pick out primary skills and responsibilities, and feature credentials and work experiences in your CV to match what the job needs. For example, if the job requires a record of research grant funding, be sure to feature any grants you’ve received or managed.

  • Professional Layout

    2. Use a professional layout.

    A good presentation goes a long way, especially when dealing with a long document like a CV. Use our professionally designed templates as a foundation for your own CV.

  • Educational Background

    3. Dig into your educational background.

    While a resume might only include your top academic achievement, a CV is a place for you to go into detail about your educational training and achievements — everything from honors and awards to participation in conferences and papers. As in our CV examples, create separate sections for these categories.

  • Step By Step

    4. Feature relevant hard and soft skills.

    Most applicants for the same job will feature similar hard skills, such as knowledge of particular software. Separate yourself from the competition by highlighting soft skills that speak to your ability to lead, collaborate and perform in high-pressure situations. For hard and soft skill suggestions, see our Skills page.

  • Resume Right Look

    5. Customize your CV for every job.

    No two jobs are alike, so no two CVs should be alike. Always update your CV every time you apply for a job, emphasizing the most suitable skills and work achievements that fit the job. For more advice in this area, see our article How to Customize Your Resume for the Job. 

Choose the Right CV Template

Make sure your CV has a polished look that matches your content using these templates. For even more layouts, visit our CV templates page.

Professional

  • Streamlined design for easy scanning.
  • Customizable header colors.
  • Crisp, elegant fonts.

Standout

  • Unique monogram design for header.
  • Dot graphics “connect” each section.
  • Headers arranged in the left margin for quick navigation.

Strong

  • Bold fonts leave a powerful impression.
  • Two-column layout leaves plenty of room for skills and qualifications.
  • Simple but effective “block-style” borders between sections.

Industry-Specific CV Examples

For extra help crafting the right content for your CV, use these expert-written examples. Our CV examples page features even more examples for a variety of jobs.

Medical

  • Stress your research experiences.
  • List important affiliations.
  • Feature core qualifications that fit with what the job needs.

Law

  • Emphasize board certifications and affiliations.
  • Focus on abilities and achievements that display leadership.
  • Show work examples that prove your skills.

Academic

  • Show off your subject area expertise in your skills and work history sections.
  • Feature teaching experiences and publications.
  • Be specific about courses and programs you’ve created.

How our Resume Builder can help you create your CV

  • Template Icon

    Choose from dozens of professionally designed templates.

  • Customize Resume Icon

    Use our expert suggestions to fill out your CV.

  • ICON Awardwin

    It’s easy to organize, preview and save copies of your CV.

  • Idea Icon

CV FAQ

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.

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