Depending on the industry you are in and where you are at in your career, you may be tasked with developing a curriculum vitae — or, as it is more commonly known, a CV — when applying for jobs.
Having a sample template for your curriculum vitae to follow can help you easily plug in the pertinent information and tailor each CV you submit to the job that you are applying for.
Who needs a CV?
A curriculum vitae in countries abroad looks more like what Americans would consider being a resume. CVs in other countries tend to be shorter and include more of a focus on strictly job history.
If you’re applying for jobs in other countries, you’ll need a CV, but it will look different. The rest of this article will focus on the best practices for formatting and completing a curriculum vitae in the U.S.
While it is not uncommon for a U.S. employer to only require a cover letter and resume in lieu of a curriculum vitae, these documents are most commonly used in academia, medicine, and law. So, it is a good idea to prepare a CV if you are applying for jobs within these industries.
Differences between a CV and a resume
While similar to a resume, there are elements of a curriculum vitae that help differentiate it from a standard resume. Basically, a CV is an in-depth look at your career that focuses on your professional achievements instead of your skillset and abilities as a resume would.
One similarity though that a CV does have with a resume is that it should be customized for each job that you apply for. Even the smallest of tweaks can help employers understand how your previous experience aligns with the responsibilities listed in their job description, and frame your ability to not only fulfill the duties but achieve results on the job. In a CV, connecting your experience to the role that you’re applying for can make your application stand out.
When crafting a CV, skip explaining responsibilities in detail and instead focus on your accomplishments and the results that your work produced. Approach a CV with a description of how you performed your duties, the outcome of your tasks, and how your performance impacted your team or the company as a whole.
What to include on a CV
So long as it is applicable to you, the following information should be included in all versions of a CV, regardless of formatting:
- Work experience
- Skills & qualifications
- Awards & honors
- Publications & presentations
- Grants & scholarships
- Internships & fellowships
- Licenses & certifications
- Professional affiliations
While not every applicant will have information for each of these, using these headings as a guideline can help you understand how to properly format your curriculum vitae.
No matter which type of CV formatting works best for the job that you are applying for, it is still important to use proper punctuation and grammar, and include titles to separate each section within your CV.
How to format a CV
Formatting a curriculum vitae can be tricky, but having an idea of the direction you need to take your CV in is critical. There are basically three options to choose from — functional, chronological, and combination — each with its own merits depending on your needs.
While your CV will generally include much of the same information no matter which format you choose, each format differs slightly in order to highlight certain skill sets or attributes depending on where you are in your career and what position you are seeking.
A functional CV places an emphasis on your skills and achievements in terms of honors and awards earned. When developing a functional CV, the focus is on exactly how your skills translate to achievement, and then how those achievements in turn make you the perfect person for the job that you’re applying for.
In a functional CV, you will place both the skills and awards sections of your CV at the top of the first page. Within the skills section, detail how each skill relates to the position which you are seeking, and within the award section, detail how each honor was achieved. These sections will take up the bulk of the space of your CV, with a list of your education, internships, and fellowships following.
Your professional work history will be further down the order of what is listed on this type of CV, which makes it the ideal type of CV format to use if you are a recent graduate, have had a major employment gap, multiple gaps in employment, or are making a career change.
This is the most common type of curriculum vitae used. A chronological CV focuses on listing your professional work experience, starting with the most recent, detailing your performance within each position. Your education will also be a primary focus for this type of CV format in order to highlight that you are properly prepared to take on the position that you are applying for.
Because your work history is the main focus for this type of CV format, it is imperative that you also include information about how you performed your duties within each position held while relating your experience to the position that you are applying for. Then, the supplemental information about any honors, professional affiliations, or publications will just serve to support your experience.
A chronological CV is best suited for job seekers who have served continuously in the same industry because the ordering of the information showcases professional advancement and achievement over time.
Just as the title alludes to, a combination CV combines aspects of both a functional and a chronological CV. This hybrid version of a CV allows job seekers to go into detail not only about professional work experience but also focus on skills and achievements by detailing awards and honors.
A combination CV is the most versatile type of CV for professionals to use because it allows you to customize which sections go where in order to place emphasis on whichever aspect of your experience is most influential for the job you hope to land.
The following templates for functional, chronological, and combination CVs give a general outline of how to develop each type of curriculum vitae. Simply plug in your personal information to these easy-to-follow templates and you can adjust as necessary based on your experience and the position that you’re applying for.