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Curriculum vitae

A curriculum vitae or CV is a summary of academic and professional history and achievements. It is typically used during the employment recruiting process to generate interest in the qualifications of a candidate. Curriculum vitae (plural curricula vitae) is Latin for "course of life".

In American English usage, a CV will include a comprehensive listing of professional history including every term of employment, academic credential, publication, contribution or significant achievement. In certain professions, it may even include samples of the person's work and may run to many pages. In contrast, a résumé is a summary typically limited to one or two pages highlighting only those experiences and credentials which the author considers most relevant to the desired position. CVs are the preferred recruiting tool for academic and medical professions while résumés are generally preferred for business employment.

In British English, CV is the standard term for what is called a résumé in American English.

Like résumés, CVs are subject to recruiting fads. For example,

  • In German-speaking countries a picture is a mandatory adjunct to the CV.
  • Except for the theatrical professions, a picture is strongly discouraged in US CVs.
  • For academic CVs in the United States, the oldest entries are generally listed first.
  • For non-academic employment in the US, the newest entries generally come first.
  • The use of an objective statement at the top of the document (such as "Looking for an entry-level position in xxx") was strongly encouraged in the US during the mid-1990s but fell out of favor by the late-1990s.
  • Listing of computer skills (such as proficiency with word processing software) was a strong differentiator during the 1980s but was considered passé for most professional positions by the 1990s.
  • In most circumstances, a chronological order is considered the norm but at certain times in certain professions the preferred order was "functional" - experiences clustered to illustrate a particular skill or competency. This format may also be used by students who have not built a strong career but wish to emphasize the skill acquired through education and internship.

The plural is curricula vitae, not curricula vitarum. The latter would be the genitive of content. The latin plural would have been the former, being the genitive of possession: to an ancient Roman, "curricula vitarum" would suggest that each document described more than one life. What most people would want from a plural of CV is something meaning "a number of courses, each describing a single life"; this is curricula vitae.

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45