How to Write a Curriculum Vitae (CV) - Career Guide Series - Part Five

Curriculum Vitae CV is a concise statement of your personal details, education, experience and achievements. The process of writing a CV will be similar to the process of  writing a resume, however, CVs are frequently longer and include much more detailed information.

How to Write a Curriculum Vitae (CV) is our subject of discussion today as a continuation of our comprehensive career guide series. In the last part of the series we discussed Social Media and Digital Networking. Today we would be exploring the various strategies and tips you need to know in writing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) for job application.

1. What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

As mentioned earlier, a CV (curriculum vitae) is a concise statement of your personal details, education, experience and achievements. The style of writing a CV is similar to the that of  writing a resume, however, CVs are frequently longer and covers much more detailed information.

2. What is a Resume

Your resume provides an overview of your experience and is often an employer’s first impression of you. Recruiters spend just a few seconds on average looking at a resume so it is crucial to use a format that makes relevant information immediately visible. A good resume can help you land an interview, but even minor errors can take you out of the running. Bring your resume to an expert or schedule an appointment with a counselor to ensure it will be effective.

3. Differences Between a CV and Resume

Here are some differences of Curriculum Vitae CV, and Resume you should take note of:

1. What is it?
. Curriculum Vitae is a full list of your professional and educational history.
. A Resume is selection of your experience and skills that are most pertinent to the advertised position.

2. How long is it?
. Curriculum Vitae May be many pages; length is not important.
. Resume is Usually one page only for entry-level positions. Multiple pages may be appropriate for more advanced or research-oriented positions.

3. When do you use it?
. Curriculum Vitae is Used for academic positions and research positions in government and industry.
. Resume Used for every other type of job outside of academia and research science.

4. Do you include your publications?
. In Curriculum Vitae, a full list of publications is essential.
. While in Resume, even a partial list of publications is rarely included.

5. How important is style and layout?
. In Curriculum Vitae, content is what matters most. As long as material is clearly presented, style doesn’t matter that much.
. In Resume, style and content are both important. Bad style is a liability.

6. Are references listed?
. In Curriculum Vitae, typically references are listed at the end of the CV.
. While in Resume, references are not listed on a resume. If requested, you may submit a separate list of relevant references.

4. CV Guidelines

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a summary of your experiences and educational background. While it can resemble a resume, a CV is most often used when applying for a teaching or research opportunities, applying for a grant or fellowship, or for further academic training. It is sometimes termed a resume or a bio (short for biography). As a prospective employee, it is your 'shop window'. Its purpose is to provide a prospective employer with an executive summary of your background. It should do so in a way that can be absorbed by a potential employer as quickly and easily as possible. Here is a check-list of the main items on a CV:

1. Personal details and contact information. This should include:
  1. ) full name (first name, followed by any middle names ,and then your surname), 
  2. ) full postal address (you may include a university address and a parental address, so you can be contacted at all times), 
  3. ) telephone numbers with different day and evening numbers, 
  4. ) email addresses (so you can be contacted via your computer or mobile device).
2. Educational details and qualifications
This part should include schools and colleges attended, subjects studied, and qualifications and grades obtained.

3. Experience (including part-time and vacation work). Include the name and address of employers, job titles, and brief details of your main responsibilities.

4. Achievements. Focus on any achievements that provide evidence of your capacity and willingness to learn in varying circumstances. This may include backpacking abroad, working on your college newspaper etc.

5. Interests. These help to differentiate you as an individual. Again, focus on those interests that emphasize your capacity and keenness to learn in different situations.

6. CVs are laid out in a 'formulaic' way to make the information as quick and easy as possible for the reader to absorb. This is important because for any job there may be hundreds of applicants each submitting a CV. The formulaic aspect of CVs means that readers generally know where the information they are looking for will be found.

In general, a CV opens with personal details and contact information, followed by educational history
and qualifications, experience including work history, achievements, and finally, interests. You can distinguish yourself by deviating from this formula, but only at the cost of desired readability. If you do decide to deviate significantly from this pattern, make sure the benefits outweigh that cost.

5. Items to Include in Curriculum Vitae (CV)

In addition to our earlier discussion on how to apply for a job where we highlighted some guidelines and constituent elements of a comprehensive CV, the following tips would be invaluable.

Include the following relevant information in your CV:
  1. Identifying Information: Name, address, phone, and email.
  2. Education: In reverse chronological order, list your expected degree, previously earned degrees, majors, institutions, and dates of completion.
  3. Dissertation: Put the title and short description of your thesis.
  4. Areas of Research Interest, Specialization or Competence: Here you will want to include any expertise or principal research and teaching interests.
  5. Experience: This is often divided into categories such as research experience, teaching experience, industry experience, and professional experience.
  6. Fellowships, Awards, Honors: Include date awarded and monetary amount if appropriate
  7. Memberships or Professional Affiliations: List all positions held or memberships.
  8. Languages: List languages where you are proficient, fluent, or have basic skills.
  9. Publications and Presentations: Provide a full list of your authored publications and presentations.
  10. Others: This might include works in progress, references, or dissertation abstract.
  11. Remember to tailor your CV to the position!

6. CV Presentation

As well as being reader-friendly, your CV needs to look professional. If an employer is swamped with applications for a good job, then the interviews are likely to go to those who produce the most
professional-looking CVs.
  1. Head the page 'CURRICULUM VITAE'. This is especially important if it is accompanied by several other documents (covering letter, application form, testimonial etc) as it helps the reader find essential information quickly. 
  2. Use A4 paper. A4 paper is the standard size of paper used in organizations; it is the easiest to handle and file. Word-process your CV. You may be tempted to hand-write it, as this is can be more personal. However, a hand-written CV is also far more difficult to read.
  3. If you photocopy your CV, make sure you reproduce perfect copies. Try to provide all the information on one side of one sheet of paper. Longer CVs take longer to read. If you want to produce a longer CV, then produce a one-page executive summary as well, so that when the person-who-has-the-power-to-give-you-an-interview reads it, they can decide whether or not they want to plough through the longer version.
  4. Use black ink. Remember that CVs may need to be copied if, for example, there are several people on your interview panel. Black produces the best photocopies.
  5. List any vocational qualifications separately from your academic qualifications. This may include qualifications, such as a first aid certificate. Keeping academic and nonacademic qualifications separate makes the CV easier to follow.
  6. If you present the information on your CV in chronological order or reverse chronological order, be consistent with all the information on your CV. In other words, never use chronological order for one section and reverse-chronological order for another.

7. Cover Letter

You will have to write a number of letters to employers while looking for a job. One type of letter is the cover letter, which you send with your resume when you are requesting a job interview. Other letters are those you write following up interviews, arranging company site visits, and accepting or rejecting job offers.

Here are some tips for writing a cover letter:
  • State clearly in your opening sentence the purpose for the letter. Then use the rest of the letter to support your candidacy.
  • Be sure that each cover letter is specifically tailored to the company to which you are writing.
  • Research the company to help you determine your approach. Check the company’s website and other resources on the Internet.
  • If you are seeking a position in a field or industry that does not have an obvious parallel or connection to your academic training, for example, you are an electrical engineer who wants to use his/her quantitative skills in a finance or consulting position — be explicit about why you are interested in that particular field, organization or job, and what value you bring. Do not leave the reader wondering, “Why is an electrical engineer writing to me, the personnel manager of McKinsey?”
  • If you are applying for a summer job and do not yet have any experience that is directly related to the position, focus on telling the employer what experience you do have that may be of interest.
  • Always try to write to a specific individual and include their job title. Do not address your letter to “Dear Sir or Madam.”
  • Ask someone else to check your grammar, spelling, and style. When proofreading your own writing, it is easy to overlook silly mistakes.

8. Suggested Formula for Cover Letter

                                                                                                        77 Kongon Street.
                                                                                                        Meriland, LA 02149,
                                                                                                        September 1, 2018.
Mr. Jona Duke
Human Resource Manager
Technology Incubator, Inc.
11 Seacon St., Suite 7
Lagos, LA 02934

Dear Mr. Doe:

First Paragraph: Introduce yourself by stating your degree program and the year in which you will graduate. Specify the type of position you are seeking (e.g., summer internship, full-time position). Tell why you are writing, and name the position, field, or general vocational area in which you are interested. Tell how you heard of the opening or organization (e.g., the job posting on CareersLead, the career section of the company’s website, or through a recommendation).

Second Paragraph: Mention one or two qualifications you think would be of greatest interest to the employer. Illustrate these qualifications by describing experiences where you demonstrated these skills. Tell why you are particularly interested in the company, type of work, or location. If you have related experience or specialized training, point it out.

Third Paragraph: Close by stating your desire for an interview. You may say that you will call in a week or so to request an appointment. Make sure that your closing is not vague, but makes a specific action from the reader likely.


Musa John

Now that we have equipped our-self with the necessary job search technique and how to apply for the job, another ingredient for a successful career is the Interview. This and many more are what we are going to be discussing in our next post in the Career Guide Series and it will focus on how to be successful in a job interview.

Feel free to make your contributions, observations or ask questions on this topic of How to Write a Curriculum Vitae (CV) or any part of our Career Guide Series using the comment form below and we will be more than happy to add to our data base of knowledge because nobody knows it all. 

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