You will need to write a Curriculum Vitae or CV when you are applying for academic pursuits like academe-related positions, research institutions, and even scholarships or grants. And writing your CV should not be complicated at all. Your CV will provide employers an overview of your expertise, educational experience, work background, and achievements in full detail.
Make sure you write your CV with clarity, consistency, readability, and professionalism. This will be your tool in landing a job opportunity you are looking for, so ensure your credentials are carefully laid out understandably.
The difference between a CV and a resume
Some people interchange the use of a CV and a resume when applying for a job. However, there is a seemingly massive difference between the two.
The Curriculum Vitae, with a Latin word meaning “course of life,” is an in-depth account of a person’s career in full view. It usually has two to three pages, but can go as long as over ten pages. It is most commonly used in the US and Canada as a required credential when applying for academic pursuits like teaching positions, research centers, grants, or scholarships.
Whereas the resume, a French word for “to sum up,” is a concise overview of an applicant’s work history. In a one- to two-page summary, it contains the skill set, work experience, and educational background of a professional seeking to apply for jobs. The resume is globally used as the primary requirement in job applications.
Things to include when writing a CV
Now that you have identified what a CV means, it’s time to get down to the things you should include in it. Here are the essential things you should add in learning to write your CV:
1. Name, professional title, and contact details
Your name should serve as the title of the document—no “Curriculum Vitae” written on top, please. Remember not to include your middle name—it’s unnecessary. Your first name and last name should be enough.
Then, write your professional title as well as your contact details below your name. Your contact details should contain your phone number, email address, LinkedIn profile, and your professional websites and social media pages, if applicable.
Skip writing your home address as it is a waste of space—only add your town and county residence if you think your location matters to the employer. Also, there is no need to include your birthday, current work email address, personal social media, and your photo. Adding a picture is not a practice in writing a CV. Unless the employer asks you, that’s the only time you should provide a photo.
2. Personal profile
The personal profile where you place your career objective as a professional. This section is your introduction to let employers know how you fit their company. In addition, this is a crucial part of your CV, which will dictate if employers will continue to read your credentials or not. As you may know, employers are quickly scanning CVs they receive daily, so it counts to ensure your CV is luring enough to keep them engaged.
So how do you write an engaging career objective? First, you should keep in mind that this is the only part you get to appeal to employers how much you fit the role, so start from there. Second, keep it brief but filled with enough content using only a few sentences to describe your profile. Lastly, this section must answer the following questions to explain yourself enough:
- Who are you?
- What do you bring to the company?
- What are your career goals?
3. Key skills
When applying for a functional purpose like job applications, your critical skills must be placed right after your personal profile. This is a mandatory part of writing your CV as you will want to show off your expertise to employers almost immediately.
Here are some reminders on how you are going to lay out your skills impressively and neatly:
- Add top hard skills (4-8) that are all relevant
- Include applicable soft skills
- Indicate proficiency level, whether Basic, Advanced, or Expert
- An example citing how you used the particular skill (optional)
In addition to these, avoid giving an expertise that is irrelevant to the job position you are applying for. Keep also in mind that your descriptions should not be bulky; thus, the use of bullet points.
4. Employment history
Next up, your employment history is a crucial component in writing your CV. This part of your CV provides a timeline of your professional work experiences, which employers are curious about. List down a maximum of fifteen years’ worth of previous work experiences in reverse-chronological order. This way, you are beginning with the most recent pursuit you have done.
In enumerating your employment history, the most recent one should contain the most details. And as the job goes older, the fewer features you will need to provide. Here is a breakdown of what you need to insert as support to your work history:
- Position title
- Company name
- Work duration
- Bullet points showing an outline of achievements and responsibilities
- Metrics to support accomplishments
Moreover, the things you should avoid to include in this section are short-term employment, present tenses in descriptions, explanation of employment gaps, and tables, images, or figures.
5. Educational background
Just like in your employment history, your educational background should be listed down in reverse-chronological order. All you will have to put here are your graduation date, degree, and institution. Make it straightforward as it is—unless you have top-notch achievements that are worth the mention.
If you have at least two years of work experience, you can go ahead and stick with the three essentials—year graduated, degree, and school plus your post-secondary degrees. However, if you are in entry-level with not much work history to back you up, you may place this before your work history section and include the following:
- Thesis/Dissertation title
- Relevant coursework
- Top achievements
- Related extracurricular activities and organizations during the academic stay
6. Publications and presentations
Some professionals have existing publications and past presentations worth the mention. Always include them in your CV detailing your co-authors, date, summary, volume, page, etc. While for your presentations, add the title, date, and venue where you presented.
7. Professional associations
Most professionals are active members of an organization that relates their field of expertise. If you happen to have an existing professional organization, provide some details, including the organization name, location or chapter, and duration of active membership.
8. Grants and scholarships
When writing your CV, do not forget to include the previous scholarships given to you. Including this on your CV proves your intellectual capabilities. Add the name of your scholarship or grant, the date of awarding, and the institution that gave it to you. So if you are writing your CV for a scholarship or grant application, you display more chances of earning it if you list down your previous ones.
9. Licenses and certifications
Highlighting your hard-earned licenses and certifications is a vital part of your CV. This section doesn’t just prove your expertise, but it also boosts your reliability as you have taken the time to earn these professional credentials. To enumerate them, start with the name of the license or certificate, then add the date of acquisition and the institution that released it.
10. Hobbies and interest (optional)
When you feel like your CV is lacking, especially when you don’t have much work experience to share, you can put your hobbies and interests. However, you should be careful in disclosing your interests—avoid irrelevant interests that do not relate to your field. This is your chance to highlight how invested and inclined you are to the area, so ensure you only list down related hobbies and interests.
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