CV/ Resume Writing
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
A curriculum vitae is essentially a verbose version of your resume. While it covers the same general aspects of your life, namely education and experience, your CV will delve into more of the nuances of your skill set and especially your accomplishments.
You need to know how to write a curriculum vitae when you’re applying for a position in the academic field, medicine and sciences, and other specific circumstances.
Resume vs. CV
A curriculum vitae, or CV for short, is not the same as a resume. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, but there are some important differences you should be aware of.
The major difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume is the scope of the content. A curriculum vitae generally has a much wider scope, covering areas of your life and background that a resume won’t.
A curriculum vitae is generally a much longer document, commonly ranging anywhere from five to ten or more pages in length. A CV gives the employer a bigger picture of you as a person as well as you as a worker.
A resume is a brief, to the point, fact-by-fact analysis of your educational and professional life.
Curriculum vitae are preferred over resumes in Europe and other parts of the world. Resumes are the preferred document in the USA generally.
Which should you use?
First and foremost, give the employer what they ask for. In the USA, in most fields, if they do not specify whether they want your curriculum vitae or resume, it’s safe to assume a resume is what they’re expecting. It’s best to have both documents prepared before you start your job search if you’re in a field that generally requires a CV.
It’s less time-consuming to create a resume once you’ve got a CV, so if you think you’ll need a CV it’s best to get it out of the way and then condense it into a resume afterwards.
Here are some rules that govern which document you are likely to need:
When to use a Resume
You are seeking an entry level job right out of college or high school.
You are applying for a job in most non-academic sectors.
The position relies almost solely on your technical skills (accounting, marketing, finance, computer programming, etc.).
It is a ‘job’ rather than a ‘career.’
When to use a Curriculum Vitae / CV
Higher level positions where you will be given more responsibility.
You are applying for a job in the academic or medical fields.
You’re seeking admission into a program (Ph.D., fellowship, internship in an academic or creative field).
When you’re applying for a ‘career’ rather than a ‘job.’
If you’re applying for jobs overseas, especially in Europe, employers generally expect a CV if they don’t specify a preference.
If the employer does not specify and you think a CV would be best, don’t hesitate to send both. In these cases the more information you provide them with, the better. Put your resume in front of the curriculum vitae.
There are two decisions you need to make with regard to resume format.
1.Resume or CV
2.Chronological or Functional format
You should first decide whether you are going to write a resume or a CV. They are completely different documents, and if you choose to write a CV, you will almost certainly a hybrid of the two resume formats.
The most popular format for recent graduates and those without several years of work experience in their field is the functional resume. It emphasizes the talents and skills of an individual rather than their track record. The functional resume format is also recommended for people who have gaps in their work history, as it de-emphasizes this problem area to some extent.
The chronological format is technically a reverse chronological structure. In it, you separate your resume into a few broad categories (usually Work History and Education) and then begin listing your most recent jobs and schooling and work your way back in time. This format works best for people who have been in the workplace for several years. It is not recommended for the majority of recent graduates, as it doesn’t do a very good job of selling skills so much as it does experience – which is the one thing recent grads lack.
Don’t forget your cover letter! You still need one even if you are submitting a CV rather than a resume.
The cover letter is of vital importance to your resume. It’s what employers see first – it’s your first chance to grab their attention; it’s also your first chance to lose their attention. For this reason you should treat your cover letter with as much care and consideration as you do your resume.
Addressing your cover letter
Address the cover letter to the individual in charge of hiring. If this information is not readily available in the job ad or on their web site, it is acceptable to address it to “Human Resources Manager” or “Hiring Manager.”
Tone and style
Your cover letter should be written in a more casual, conversational style than your resume. This does not mean it is acceptable to use improper grammar – in fact, you should be doubly cautious not to make any mistakes, as the cover letter is the first impression you will make. Use it as an opportunity to show off your writing skills.
You should avoid the rigid sentence form you use on your resume; this is a letter, designed to grab the attention of the employer without going into nearly as much detail as your resume.
Customizing your cover letter
You must take the time to customize the cover letter of each resume. This is the place – not the resume itself – where you should show an interest in the particular company. Let the employer know you went to the effort to find out something about them, what they do, and how your skills would compliment the company.
What to say
Your cover letter should answer the following questions:
1.Why are you writing? Did you see their help wanted ad in the newspaper? Which job, specifically?
2.Who are you? Tell a little about yourself and why you are interested in the position.
3.Why should they consider you? Briefly give an overview of the skills you possess that they could benefit from.
4.Answer any questions/requirements that were in the help wanted ad – number of years experience, salary requirements, etc.
What not to say
You should avoid the following pitfalls on your cover letter:
1.Salary requirements. You should be careful not to paint yourself into a corner. If you say you require a low salary, you’ll hurt your ability to negotiate later on; if your salary requirement is on the high end, they may not even look at your resume. Don’t specify an exact number unless required – try to give a range from the lowest you would consider to the most you think you could possibly get. Let them know that your requirements depend on the job responsibilities and duties.
2.Copying information from your resume. Don’t copy portions of your resume into your cover letter. If your resume is written in an appropriate form and tone, it shouldn’t read as conversationally as your cover letter. Only include the most relevant information on your cover letter – don’t talk about specific jobs you’ve had, but mention that you have experience doing the things this position requires.
Parts of a Curriculum Vitae
The following sections list the parts of a CV, and what employers want you to provide in each. It is not meant to be a strict set of rules, but rather a general guide to curriculum vitae content and structure.
This first paragraph should provide the employer with a summary of your curriculum vitae. It should name your best attributes and achievements, without too much detail. You’ll go into the specifics later on.
This section should be no more than a few sentences. It’s the attention grabber, so list only the qualities and accomplishments that you think this specific employer is looking for.
Here you will list all your jobs in a chronological format, much as you would on a resume. You should provide a small description of your duties as well as any major accomplishments while you held each position.
Date, job title, company, duties, accomplishments are all required components of each entry here.
List any experience you may have that was not in a traditional job setting. If you have conducted research independently, written a book, taught a few classes as a freelance professor, or any other experience you should include it here.
Date, company [if applicable], and a thorough description of each entry should be included here.
Education & Honors
This section of your curriculum vitae will be very similar to the education component of a resume. Feel free to elaborate where you feel necessary. Be sure to include the names of any relevant clubs you participated in, accomplishments in extra curricular activities, and other achievements. If applicable, you should include the title of your thesis and optionally a brief description. If you were a teacher’s assistant as part of your graduate studies, list it here.
Date, institution, degree, honors, GPA, thesis, and other important activities.
Industry Involvement / Conferences
This section is used to describe your ongoing studies and educational activities after school. If you’ve attended work-related conferences or conventions, list them here. This lets the employer know you’ve been involved in the industry beyond the 9-5; if you’ve attended several such events you’re likely to be abreast of recent changes and news in your industry, networked, and generally be interested in your profession beyond the paycheck.
Date attended (e.x. January 3-5, 2004), city/state/(if necessary, country), conference title & sponsoring organization.
Industry Contributions / Papers / Projects
How have you contributed to your industry? If any of your papers or research has been published, include it here. If you have volunteered and worked as part of a team (e.x. work for a foundation, think tank, open source software programming, etc.) include information regarding your specific contributions and level of involvement.
If several of your papers have been published or you’ve contributed to several projects, you should break this into more than one section.
Date, publication or organization, paper title or project, description of your involvement.
Additional Sections as necessary
The above sections are those most commonly found in a curriculum vitae, and provide the employer with the information they usually take into consideration. If you think a particular employer would be interested in another aspect of your life, and it’s not an inappropriate personal matter, let them know about it.
If there’s anything else you feel your employer should know about your experiences or expertise, include it. Don’t worry about being too long winded – if they wanted a single page summary they would have requested a resume. At the same time, don’t shoot for a certain number of pages. Only include information that will give a prospective employer the ability to gauge your abilities and experience.