Do you know the differences between a curriculum vitae (CV) and a resume? While a resume is a compact, usually one page long ad for you as an employee, a CV is a significantly longer document that describes you as an academic, teacher, researcher, or medical professional. While the average resume only receives a 20-second scan, you can expect your curriculum vitae to be read more carefully. After all, your future employer or school could have just asked you for a resume—if they ask you for a CV, they want to know more.
The following table covers some of the main differences between a resume and curriculum vitae. Keep in mind that the concept of what a curriculum vitae should be varies from county to country. In this article, we’ll mostly focus on how the CV works in the United States.
|Generally 1 page, 2 or 3 max||Often starts at 3 pages, 20 pages not unheard of!|
|Used for most types of jobs/volunteer positions||Used for academia, teaching, research, medicine|
|Popular in the United States and Canada||Popular in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia|
|Work experience before education, usually||Education before experience|
|Name-dropping rare unless you’ve worked with very well-known people||Name-dropping encouraged|
|Chronological, functional, and combination styles||Virtually always chronological format|
|A handful of broad categories to organize info||Many narrower categories to organize info|
|Bullet points very common||Bullet points less common|
What do the resume and CV have in common? For one, they should both be customized for the position trying to get. Attempting to write a one-size-fits all CV is as bad as forcing out a one-size-fits-all resume.
Here are other things the resume and curriculum vitae have in common:
- Contact information required
- Simple, attractive formatting
- Short, clipped phrases
- Concise descriptions
- Positive presentation of applicant
- Parallel structure
- Greater emphasis on information presented first
- Professionalism expected
So, the CV is the resume’s academically-inclined cousin. This is all pretty interesting, but how do you actually write a CV? The following tips should be consulted for basic guidance:
1. Write your name at the top – make it prominent!
Like your resume, your CV should be all about you, so make your name catch the viewer’s attention.
2. Next, insert your contact information.
You’ll need your full address, one or two phone numbers, and a professional-looking e-mail address.
3. Start off strong with your “Education” section.
Starting with a skills summary may be helpful for some people, but the traditional way to start a curriculum vitae is by cutting straight to your education. After all, if you need to write a CV, you already have some type of advanced education that’s relevant to the position you want.
Use reverse chronological order. Provide the name of the school or schools you attended, along with the corresponding city and state—or foreign country. Be sure to include the full name of the degree you’ve earned or are working toward. Many of the guidelines for how to write a resume with a good education section also apply here, except that you want to go into more detail.
4. If you’ve written a formal thesis at some point, mention that next.
If you have a Master’s or Ph.D, this definitely applies to you. If you have a Bachelor’s degree, you may also have written a formal thesis during your college career, perhaps to complete the requirements of an Honors program. Be sure to include the full title of your thesis. It’s also a good idea to include the name of the faculty adviser who helped you with your thesis.
5. Add fellowships and awards.
This is the place to include fellowships or awards you’ve earned. Obviously, focus on those relevant to academia, research, teaching, or medicine.
6. Write down your areas of specialization.
If you’re applying for a teaching or research position, the viewer will want to know what exactly you’re familiar with. This section may be known as “Prepared to Teach” for educators or “Areas of Research Interest” for researchers. Don’t be vague, but keep these areas fairly broad to avoid boxing yourself in.
7. Provide details about your teaching experience, research experience, or both.
If the job you’re applying for focuses more on research, mention your research experience first. If it focuses more on teaching, place your teaching experience first.
8. Include your publications and/or presentations.
This is the place to mention posters, published academic articles, and related research goodies. Again, write out full titles, even if they’re long.
9. Mention works in progress.
You can mention academic projects you haven’t completed yet here.
10. Incorporate your related professional experience.
This section can roughly equate to the “experience” section on a resume. Thus, some of the advice you hear about resume writing can come in handy here. As usual, company names and locations are important.
Keep in mind that while the jobs mentioned on your resume don’t have to directly relate to the position you’re applying for, it’s expected that the positions in this section of your curriculum vitae will in some way relate to academia. If you want to include positions that don’t fit this niche, you may want to just list them without going into detail.
11. Mention foreign languages you know.
You may want to mention foreign languages you know, along with your level of proficiency in those languages. Possible descriptions include beginner, intermediate, proficient, fluent, and native.
12. Put down other relevant information, if it relates to the position at hand.
You can mention scholarly or professional associations you’re a member of, study abroad trips, relevant personal interests, or travel experiences. Since tourist travel and hobbies aren’t exactly academic, you may not want to mention them unless they’re clearly related to the position at hand. There’s nothing wrong with leaving this section out.
13. List references.
It’s appropriate to include references either with the rest of your CV or on a new page. Again, focus on scholarly references. Academia is a fairly small world and experts in the same field tend to know each other, at least by name.
14. End with with your dissertation abstract.
You can include a brief abstract of your dissertation at the end of your curriculum vitae.
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Remember that you don’t have to include every section of your CV listed above. These are just many of the commonly included sections recommended by MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) as well as other colleges and universities. If a section doesn’t apply to you or the position at hand, don’t include it. The order the sections were listed was also suggested by MIT’s Global Education & Career Development Center. You should customize the order to match your skills and the specifics of the position you want.
So, these are the most important differences between a curriculum vitae and a resume, along with tips for writing your own curriculum vitae. As usual, we’re just offering serving suggestions. A well-written CV is as unique as you are.