What is a curriculum vitae (CV)?

  • A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a detailed chronological overview of a person’s educational and professional history that is provided as part of a job application. You can consider it a marketing document because its purpose is to sell you to the prospective employer. Make sure to address how your previous achievements and skills will bring value and solve their current challenges.A curriculum vitae is a written overview of a person’s experience and other qualifications for a job opportunity. It is akin to a résumé in North America.

What is the Format of a CV?

In case you are wondering what format to choose for your CV, keep in mind that the recommended CV layout by recruiters and employers is one-column, especially when the length is over one page.

Remember to order your previous Professional Experience, Projects, Achievements, Volunteer Work, etc. in chronological order. Always start your CV with your Skills/Expertise and previous relevant Work Experience as the main sections.

What to Include in a CV?

The best CV should include the following information:

  • Contact details: phone number and a professional email address are a must.
  • Professional Title: ideally it will be the same as the job opening title if you have the necessary skills and experience.
  • Professional Summary: highlighting your most important achievements and skills.
  • Professional Experience: list your relevant work experience in reverse chronological order.
  • Your Achievements: under each position you held, it is really important to mention your achievements rather than simple tasks.
  • Skills: include the skills that are relevant for the specific job you are applying to and remember to differentiate the soft skills and hard skills.
  • Extra sections: such as Personal Projects, Conference and Courses, Publications, Volunteer Experience, etc. Include only if they are relevant to the company or job you are applying to.
  • How to Write a CV?

    Writing a CV is not an easy endeavor, especially if this is your first time writing one. By choosing one of the above-predefined layouts, you will not have to worry about the font size, alignments, or what sections to include, among many others.

    To improve the written part of your CV, you can have a look in the editor at the professional Tips & Examples that our team carefully prepared together with recruiters to make sure your CV template will be read and properly understood.

    CV Samples

    You can use the above CV samples as an inspiration, but make sure to personalize each one for a specific job application.

    Research carefully the industry you are applying for and the company’s culture, in order to find out what colors, fonts and infographic styles you should use.

    CV Template PDF

    The CV templates generated by novoresume.com will be available in a PDF format. The reason behind this is that a PDF looks better across different devices and has increased security.

    The myth of ATS systems not being able to read PDF files is not true anymore, with most of the companies nowadays having modern ATS systems that can read the PDF text-based files generated by novoresume.com.

    CV Template

    CV Template 2

    CV Template 3

    CV Template 4

    CV Template 5

    What Is the Best CV Format?

    There is no “Best” CV format, as each recruiter/employer has its unique preferences, but the general principles and guidelines that most of the recruiters and employers agree upon have been used when designing the above CV templates.

    An example of a good CV will include your Work Experience, Skills (+Technical Skills or Soft Skills; depending on the industry/job), Education (if relevant for the current position you are applying for), Languages skills and Personal Projects or Volunteer Experience.

    When to use a CV?

    • A CV should mainly be used when you are trying to change your career and are applying in a different field/industry where you do not have previous work experience.

    How long is a CV?

    By definition, it is more detailed than a resume. It usually has two or more pages, and it should include in-depth information about your previous achievements, education, professional work experience, personal projects, skills, extracurricular experience, awards, publications, extra courses, volunteer work, etc.

    Static versus dynamic content

    A resume should always be customized to the requirements of a specific job. The intention of a resume is to provide a snapshot of how your skills and experiences align with the employer’s needs. You need to be selective about content, which could mean omitting outdated work experiences or skills descriptions. Very rarely will you use the same resume to apply for two different positions?

    Meanwhile, the contents of a CV are more static. Rather than altering the contents based on the position being applied for, your CV should evolve whenever you have a new experience or accomplishment to add. When applying for a job with a CV, you rely on your cover letter to highlight qualifications that are relevant to the position.

    Chronological CV versus reverse chronological resume

    A CV will always list information in chronological order under each section. With a resume, recruiters prefer to see your most recent work experience and education first, which means you should write each section in reverse chronological order.

    When and Where to Use a CV

    The first indication of when you should use a CV will be in the job posting. An employer should list the materials required for your application. However, this may not always be explicit, in which case your best course of action is to contact the employer directly to ask which documents you should submit.

    Generally speaking, a CV is the preferred document for job applications in Europe. However, the use of a CV is not limited by geography alone. For example, even in North America, there are certain circumstances where a CV is needed. Many jobs in the public service or academia will require a detailed CV to be submitted as part of a job application.

    A CV should also be used when you are trying to change your career and are applying in a different field/industry where you do not have previous work experience.

    Here is a list of 20 potential things you can include on an academic CV:

    1. Contact Information + Brief Biography
    2. Areas of Academic Interest
    3. Education + Qualifications 
    4. Employment History + Achievements and Responsibilities
    5. Professional Development Courses + Training
    6. Teaching Experience
    7. Research Experience + Lab Experience
    8. Graduate Fieldwork
    9. A List of Skills + Technical, Computer, and Language Skills
    10. Professional Licenses and Certifications
    11. Scholarships, Grants, Fellowships, and Assistantships
    12. Study Abroad and International Experiences
    13. Descriptions of Theses and Dissertations 
    14. Bibliography + Publications 
    15. Presentations, Lectures, and Other Public Speaking Engagements
    16. Exhibitions
    17. Awards and Honors
    18. Memberships
    19. References
    20. Hobbies, Interests, and Related Extracurricular Activities

    Important Summary

    • Curriculum Vitae (CV): longer because it contains more detail; relatively static; written in chronological order; more common in Europe.
    • Resume: less detail; included content is more dynamic and customized to job requirements; reverse chronological order; preferred choice of employers in Canada and the U.S.
    • Avoiding confusion between the resume and CV usage: Don’t assume that because you are in a particular country or applying to a specific company that you are expected to use a certain document. Review the job application requirements provided by an employer. If it’s still unclear, contact the employer directly so you know if you should submit a resume, CV or both.


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