What Does CV Mean for Job Applications?

by Cynthia Gaffney - Updated September 26, 2017
A CV highlights academic achievements.

When preparing to apply for a job, an individual usually needs to supply a document to potential employers that covers their background, education and experience. Choosing the right document is important for applicants to present their information in the most appropriate manner possible to highlight their fit for the job.


CV is an abbreviation for curriculum vitae, which provides an overview of an individual’s life accomplishments. The accomplishments highlighted are usually those specific to the academic world. A CV is a “living document”; one that receives ongoing updates to reflect new developments in the career of a scholar or teacher. Individuals pursuing an academic job almost exclusively use a CV. Those applying to science-based jobs such as medical, dental or research-type positions also use this document.

Difference from Resume

The length of each document differentiates the CV from the resume. Resumes, especially for those early in their career, usually limit information to one page. However, CVs may run up to three pages. In some overseas countries, regardless of the type of job applied for, a CV is required. The CV’s length has advantages for people with many credentials in a narrow field, as it allows them to properly highlight all of their background and qualifications.

Another difference, though less prominent, is that a CV defines a person’s academic identity, whereas a resume forms and describes a professional identity for job applicants in the business world.

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CV Format

A good CV emphasizes the points considered most important in a person’s given discipline and these may need to conform to standard conventions that differ among various disciplines. No standard format covers all CVs.

Information to Include

Many of the same details are included on a CV as on a resume. Using either document to apply for a job necessitates certain information such as name, contact information and an education overview. For academic applications, the CV should include related academic and other employment, research projects, including publications and conference papers, as well as any community or departmental service. A CV should also include a separate page with references, and availability of any confidential references should be mentioned as well.

Usually, a CV will list education in reverse chronological order, including a title and possibly brief description of the candidate’s dissertation. After education, the rest of the information should be listed in order of which strengths are relevant.

About the Author

Cynthia Gaffney has spent over 20 years in finance with experience in valuation, corporate financial planning, mergers & acquisitions consulting and small business ownership. She has worked as a financial writer and editor for several online finance and small business publications since 2011. A Southern California native, Cynthia received her Bachelor of Science degree in finance and business economics from USC.

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