What is a CV and do I need one?

You’ve heard people talking about their CV, but you don’t know what it is, and whether or not you need one.  You’re not clear about the difference between a CV and a resume.  Here are the basics:

What is a CV?

A CV (Curriculum Vitae) is an overview of your work experience and other qualifications.

What is the difference between a CV and a resume? 

A CV and a resume both showcase your skills and experience.  The difference is that a CV is a complete professional history, whereas a resume only includes highlights of relevant skills, experience and accomplishments.  A resume is usually no longer than two pages, whereas a CV can be ten pages or more.  Beyond the information that is typically on a resume, here is a list from Monster.ca of additional sections that can be included on a CV:

  • Professional licenses or certifications
  • Listing of relevant course work to match career or academic objective
  • Scientific or academic research, laboratory experience, grants received
  • Description of thesis or dissertation (if you have advanced degrees)
  • Papers, books and other related publications you have written
  • Academic or professional presentations delivered
  • Travel / exposure to cultural experiences
  • Related extracurricular activities, professional and association memberships
  • Additional information that may support objective or qualifications
  • Letters of recommendation or a list of references
  • Professional development you have undertaken


Who needs a CV?

In Canada and the United States, you would generally only need a CV if you were applying for an academic or medical position.  However, if you are applying to a position in another country, you may need one. 

How do I create a CV?

According to Monster.ca, it is a good idea to, “make certain that you read any instructions provided by employers in their job postings. When it comes to CV’s, some employers are very specific about what they want you to include and how the information should be laid out.” 

(http://career-advice.monster.ca/resumes-cover-letters/resume-writing-tips/whats-the-difference-between-a-resume-and-a-cv-in-canada/article.aspx )

Make sure that your CV is well organized and easy to understand.  Here are the main sections of a CV from EzineArticles.com:

  1. Profile/Objectives – a short statement, tailored to fit the requirements of the prospective employer;
  2. Education/Qualifications – a list of institutions and courses, with grades awarded and dates attended;
  3. Skills/Competencies – any skills or achievements that are relevant to the job. You can include most things, but be sensible – there is no need to mention the 10m swimming badge you got when you were six!
  4. Career Summary – this should be the most detailed part, it can be moved higher up the document if necessary. Each job should have a short description of the skills you used and your achievements within the role. A few bullet points are sufficient, with more detailed accounts of more recent/relevant positions.

Be sure to give yourself enough time to create your CV.  It is an important, detailed document and you don’t want to rush it.  If you take the time to customize it to the specific position and make sure that it is error free, you will have another effective tool that you can use to market yourself.

(Written by:  Karen Bivand, Photo From: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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