When it comes to applying for a job, internship, degree, or even research fellowships and postgraduate courses, your CV is one of the first things the admissions board or hiring body looks at.
Essentially, it's the first impression you make.
A strong CV can get you through the initial stage of the hiring or admission process, while a weak one can quickly derail your application... so it's pretty essential!
Here we'll take you through what you need to know about building a good CV and direct you to some helpful articles which can explain further.
Table of Contents
- What is a CV, and what is it for?
- CV for Students
- Understanding your CV
- What should you include in your CV?
- The difference between a CV and a Resume
- CV layout tips
- How to write a CV
What is a CV, and what is it for?
A CV (Curriculum Vitae) is a document that summarises your academic and professional credentials, experience, accomplishments, contributions, and abilities.
In short, it's what you use to show that you are qualified for a position and that you would make a great candidate for an interview.
Though we usually think of CVs as a crucial part of applying for a job, they are commonly used for university courses, particularly graduate programs and research fellowships.
It's also worth noting that the terms CV and Resume are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference that we detail below.
CVs for Students
When applying for fellowships, graduate degree programmes, or research jobs, students are frequently required to provide a CV.
It would be best if you kept in mind that you are one of the thousand applicants who will apply to that University, and your CV is one among them that the admission committee will evaluate. Naturally, the admissions committee may only have a few seconds to look at your curriculum vitae, so it must stand out for the right reasons.
So how does a student CV differ from a professional CV? They both serve the purpose of informing the reader about your experience and credentials. Naturally, though, a student CV will contain much more content on academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and personal characteristics, while a professional or graduate CV (for finding your first job) will lean more heavily on career background.
If you need some tips for how to improve your CV as a student, check out our article
9 Extracurricular activities to do at university can boost your CV.
Understanding your CV
The most crucial aspect of making a successful and appealing resume is realising and comprehending the goal of this document. It's not an autobiography rather it's a review of your professional and academic qualifications and accomplishments.
An undergraduate candidate should stress their educational qualifications and extracurricular activities; an MS candidate should emphasise their research interests and achievements.
An MBA candidate should strive to demonstrate their professional and leadership qualities, while a job candidate should talk about either their relevant experience or the applicable skills they possess that makes them a good fit for the role.
What should you include in your CV?
Your CV should include your name and contact info (of course), a short introduction on who you are (where you can also talk about soft skills such as team working, communication, leadership etc), details on your educational background and achievements, professional or translatable skills, as well as any job experience or extracurricular experience you've gained.
It's best to keep your sentences in the personal introduction concise and to the point -- remember that the average CV gets looked at for just a few seconds initially! Use bullet points and lists where possible, particularly when describing achievements or experiences.
Here's a brief rundown of the ideal contents of a CV:
- Name in full
- Phone Number
- E-mail Address
These are all obvious, so we'll not go into any detail here.
- Personal profile (a brief yet impactful introduction of yourself)
In the personal profile, you should explain who you are, what you are good at, what you are searching for, and your goals in two to three words.
- Work experience (or educational experience)
Describe your prior employment and work history, or your extracurricular experience. If you've been studying, say, a Master's degree, writing a thesis or carrying out a research project at a university, include this here.
Here you should explain your work, responsibilities, and accomplishments in a few sentences. Try to concentrate on adaptable capabilities that can help you succeed in other professions.
- Education and educational achievements
List these from those most recently completed, to those least recently created. You don't have to go all the way back in time to your early education of course, but high school final exam results, English language certifications, and of course your degree are needed here.
The difference between a CV and a resume
In most situations, the CV is misunderstood for a resume.
They are pretty similar, but there are a few key distinctions to be aware of. A curriculum vitae (CV) is frequently used in academic contexts. Thus it provides comprehensive details of your educational and professional experience. Still, a resume should include the highlights and most important information, as it is typically used for job applications.
Even though these distinctions are widely acknowledged, many nations have varied meanings of a CV and resume.
CV layout tips
- Avoid using the terms' curriculum vitae' or 'CV' in the title; instead, replace it with your name.
- Try to keep it to 1 or 2 pages.
- Section headers are an effective method to organise your CV. Make them more noticeable by making them bigger (font size 14 or 16) and bold.
- Fonts like Comic Sans should be avoided. Choose a professional, clear, and easy-to-read font like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. Use a font size of 10 to 12 to guarantee that potential employers can read your CV. Make sure that all typefaces and font sizes are consistent throughout.
- Everything should be listed in reverse chronological order. The recruiter will then look at your job or educational history and most recent accomplishments first.
For a much more in-depth guide to laying out your CV, check out our article here: 5 CV structures you need to know about (and which one you should choose)
How to write a CV
Always keep in mind that you want your CV to showcase your best self. Keep it all focused on your strengths, achievements and the value you can offer.
For a more in-depth walkthrough on CV building, check out the complete guide to how to write your CV on the Edvoy Knowledge Base!
How do I write a CV for university admissions?
- Be clear and to the point.
- Keep your CV to one or two pages.
- Don't exaggerate your history or accomplishments.
- Instead of using the passive voice, use the active voice.
- Specific accomplishments should be prioritised over broad tasks.
What should a university CV include?
A curriculum vitae (CV) for academia should emphasise teaching and research experience, scholarships and research grants, awards, and any other details in your knowledge that demonstrate you're the best candidate for a research position advertised by a college.
How do you format an academic CV?
Begin your academic CV with a brief introductory personal statement summarising your talents, experience, and professional goals.
List your accomplishments in reverse chronological order, beginning with your qualifications. Provide information on your degrees and studies, but don't take up too much space.
How long should a student CV be?
A one or two page CV is ideal for students.