What is a Curriculum Vitae and How Should You Make Your Own CV

I have often seen people using the context of curriculum vitae (CV) and resume interchangeably. Are they correct? Of course, not!  If you are asked for a CV, and you send your resume, then chances are higher that you will be rejected. In fact, in the first place, you should know – “what is the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae“.

There are several distinct differences between a curriculum vitae and resume. The most eyeballing difference between a CV and a resume is ‘length’.


An ideal resume length should be one page. However, a curriculum vitae has more than one page and can even go up to three pages.

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More pages mean more information and so is right with any curriculum vitae. A Curriculum vitae captures your detail information such as academics, professional qualification, research, job history, awards, publications, interests, etc.

Mostly, a curriculum vitae is required at times when you are applying for academics, research, internships, medicine, grants, scholarships and in some case if you are applying abroad.

It is important to understand the curriculum vitae format. Also, you should know what to include and what not to. Moving ahead, we will see how to write a curriculum vitae effectively.

What is a Curriculum Vitae?

Curriculum vitae is a Latin phrase, which means “the course of my life”. It won’t be wrong to assume that it takes more than a few paragraphs to summarise your varied experiences and encounters of life. Let us understand curriculum vitae from a resume framework.

An ideal resume will only have highlights and summary of your education, work experience, skills and accomplishments. The primary objective of a resume is to showcase your talents most concisely and with a greater impact. One page resume is always the first choice of any recruiter.

Whereas, a curriculum vitae lists down a detailed overview of your academics, qualification, work history, publications, research history, awards, memberships, certifications, an area of interests, etc. The list is presented in reverse chronological order.

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Anybody who is seeking your CV, always intend to spend more time going through it. It does not make any sense if you send your resume where a curriculum vitae is expected.

In the current times, if you want to stand out, then it is important to tailormade your resume per job requirements. You cannot afford to send the same resume for sales manager and engineering manager position.

On the other hand, most of the time, your curriculum vitae will remain same even if you are applying for varied positions. At most, you can keep two or three versions of your CV, in case if you are applying for academics, research and grant at the same time.

Most of the European and Asian countries ask for a curriculum vitae, whereas if you are in the USA, then you can manage with a resume.

Curriculum vitae format – Guidelines

There can only be guidelines of a CV format since curriculum format varies with country, organisation, companies, universities, etc. But still, there are preferred guidelines of formatting your CV.

Your contact information and personal details

This information should go at the top of your curriculum vitae. Here you can provide your name, address, telephone number, email and personal website (if any).

You can also include your personal information such as gender, date of birth, nationality, etc. Providing personal details is not mandatory. However, if you are applying abroad, then it is a good idea to include personal details.

Do not provide superfluous information such as wife details, number of children, etc.

An overview of your education & training

This section includes your educational degree details. You must include your educational periods. I would suggest you include educational details starting from high school to the highest degree awarded.

In between, if you have gone through any training then do mention it.

Employment history

Provide your work history in the reverse chronological order. It should have Highlight your accomplishments. Do not blabber anything and everything here. Only provide snapshots of your job history with significant achievements.

A bulleted list is a preferred way of listing down your responsibilities in any role. If you have worked in multiple organisations in various capacity, then mention one by one keeping company name as the header.

Personal and professional skills

This is the place where you can shine with your personal as well as professional skills. Personal skills could include language proficiency such as mother tongue & foreign languages, writing skills, etc.

Professional skills may include soft skills such as communication skills, leadership skills, organisational skills, etc. It would be a good idea to specify the context in which all these skills were acquired.

Also, you could mention job-related skills like several software competencies, quality control expertise, etc.

Awards and recognitions

In this section, you can mention all accolades and recognition that you have received till date in your educational and professional career. In the past, if you have received any scholarships and fellowships, then provide that information too.

Research, publications and presentations

Mention your research experience. Also, brief about people with whom you carried out your research. If you are currently involved in some research, then provide its reference.

You can list down all your publications which you have authored, co-authored or contributed. The list should resemble a bibliography. If you have presentations, then include them as well.

This section in your curriculum vitae carries a lot of importance. So, make sure to boldface important words and phrases while citing down publications and presentations.


Most of us join several professional as well as literary associations during our educational and professional career. For example, when I was studying engineering, I joined IEEE. Similarly, if you are doing some research in medicine, then you may have the membership of medical organisations, such as American Medical Association.

It goes without saying that you should mention every relevant association in this section.

Interests & activities

Even the biggest universities and companies are looking for multi-dimensional candidates for employment or academic activities. They are looking for candidates if they can add value in the society or people.

In this section, you can show your uniqueness by adding things which you carry out apart from a usual day job. For example, if you are serving as an activist in any non-profit organisation during the weekend, then do mention it.

You can even mention your future area of interest in the field of academics, research, medicine, etc.

What should you avoid in a CV?

It is important to know what you should not include in your CV.


Many of us think that your pic on a curriculum vitae looks appealing for making an impact while submitting your candidature in front of recruiters.


In many countries, like USA, UK, Netherland, etc., photograph on a CV is considered inappropriate. However, in countries like Japan, China, a few European countries, etc. it’s OK to have a photograph on your curriculum vitae.

I would suggest you to avoid keeping your pic on CV. Sometimes, people could make an opinion just by looking at your picture. For example, you could look too young to carry out a particular position in any organisation.

If you are in doubt, then you can ask the employer if they would like to see your photograph on CV or not.

How should you format your curriculum vitae?

By now you must have gained sufficient information of dos and don’ts of a curriculum vitae. But it is also important to take care of formatting while you make your CV.

Formatting is not about prettification or colour coding of fonts. Your goal is to make sure everything is readable with ease. And even if someone wants to skim through your curriculum vitae then it should be skimmable.

In short, you should know the font size, line height, heading size, etc.

Font Type

Stick with the basic fonts such as Arial, Sans Serif, Times New Roman, Calibri, etc. These fonts are readable with ease. Avoid ornate fonts.

Font size

You should use font size as 10 to 12 in the body. Whereas, all headings and sub-headings could be in the range of 13 to 14.

Uniformity in format

If you have used italics or underline for the company name or the training name, then follow the same throughout your CV.

Do not clutter your sections with several sentences. Keep it short. If possible, use bullets to list down your achievements.

Start every sentence with an action verb. For example, below sentences start with ‘Graduated’ and ‘Performed’, which are action verbs. Also, they take less space and are readable.

  • Graduated in the year 2009 from Oxford College of Engineering.
  • Performed research activity in the field of Astrophysics.


Grammar and spelling mistakes can put your candidature in a spot. Avoid it. Do check your CV thoroughly before you hit send button.

You can ask your family or friends to get it proofread. Ask their opinion. Many career counsellors are available online. You can even take their services for checking your CV thoroughly.



There is no fixed length when it comes to curriculum vitae. It all depends on your credentials and career graph. But still, I would recommend you to not go beyond three or maximum four pages.

Even if you are matching the wits of Albert Einstein, you can be creative with the available space of your curriculum vitae. Show your creativity and break your long paragraphs into small sentences.

Curriculum vitae example

If you are looking for an example of a curriculum vitae, then there is nothing called one format which can fit for all organisation as well as geographical requirements. However, you can follow general curriculum vitae guidelines of Europe, UK, USA and Asian countries.

Keep watching this space since very soon we will come up with various curriculum vitae format used in different countries, jobs, organisations, etc.

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