What is a CV and When Do I Need One?

The term ‘CV’ is short for Curriculum Vitae; Latin for “the course of one’s life”.

A CV is a written summary of a person’s education, professional experience, qualifications, certifications, skills, publications that bear your name, and/or presentations. Unlike a resume, which is usually one to two pages maximum, there is no ‘rule’ on how long a CV should be. The length of the CV depends on your particular situation and the amount of experience you have. It allows you to go into detail about your skills, education, research and professional experience, publications, patents, etc.

A CV is mainly used for academic purposes, including applying for a Ph.D., fellowships, research programs in government and industry, or a faculty position in higher education. Unlike a resume, a CV doesn’t need much alteration to fit different types of job openings. A CV always begins with your Education history and accomplishments.

Outside of the United States, such as in the EU and New Zealand, employers use the term CV to describe both CV and resume-style documents and don’t use the term ‘resume’ at all. In other areas of the world, the terms CV and resume are often used interchangeably.

In the U.S., a resume and CV are two very different types of documents used for different purposes. Unless stated by the organization, a resume is the preferred format to apply for most jobs in the U.S. and Canada. If you have any questions about which document to submit, ask your contact in the organization.

Follow this link for an example of a CV for reference (pdf)

The Center for Career Development (CCD) offers CV reviews. You can make an individual appointment with a Career Counselor through Handshake at bu.joinhandshake.com to get your CV reviewed at any time during the year.

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