The world’s first CV ever and its evolution

The first references to the Curriculum Vitae can be found in documentation dating back as far as five centuries.

Where did the idea for the CV come from and how is it that today we cannot imagine applying for a job without a CV?

Read on as we delve into the CV history and evolution to the CV we know today.

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By Jagoda Obszarska, Senior Content Editor, TranslatorLast Updated: March 18, 2024
First CV ever

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The term ‘Curriculum Vitae’ comes from the 16th century. Originally, the first CVs were intended to provide a comprehensive timeline of a person’s life journey. Over the centuries, CVs have evolved significantly, adapting to technological advances and ever-changing trends in the job market.

Where did the idea for the first CV come from?

The concept of the first Curriculum Vitae (CV) originated around the 15th and 16th centuries. This period, called the Renaissance, is known in history as the era of development. A significant increase in interest in the world surrounding us, in science, education and development meant that scholars needed a way to present their potential.

No other than the eminent scientist and inventor, Leonardo da Vinci, is considered to be the father of what is known as the CV.

Seeking employment at the court of the Duke of Milan, da Vinci wrote a formal letter outlining his achievements, skills and abilities.

It was this letter, although so different from the currently accepted labour market conventions, that led to the creation of the CV as we know it today.

Over the centuries, CV standards have evolved, leading to the development of more standardised CV formats, particularly in academic and professional circles, as people looked for systematic ways to present their credentials and achievements.

The evolution of the CV

Since its origin, the CV has come a long way and its format continues to adapt and vary from country to country. The way the CV has evolved shows how social and professional standards and requirements have changed over the decades.

So, let’s take a closer look at these changes and the evolution of the CV…

  • First CV ever created, i.e. the origins dating back to the Renaissance (15th-16th century)

    The very idea of listing achievements and skills in a logical order, as we do in the current CV formats, dates back to the Renaissance. During this period, more and more importance was placed on individual achievement and the need to document one’s qualifications arose.

  • The 20th century and the standardisation of the CV

    The last century created the need to introduce standards and requirements for CVs. These were intended to help develop documents that would allow objective recruitment of candidates based on certain criteria.

    They included sections such as education, work experience, publications and presentations.

    It was also during this time that there was a shift from handwritten CVs to those written on a typewriter.

  • The turn of the millennium

    The rapid digitisation led us to move from paper CVs to electronic ones in a very short time. Job seekers began to create and distribute CVs electronically, which made sharing and updating information easier and quicker.

  • The second decade of the 21st century

    The development of social media, along with the widespread transfer of most social interactions to the online world, contributed to the development of professional career platforms. These platforms, such as LinkedIn, serve as a digital extension of traditional CVs, offering a comprehensive insight into a candidate’s professional life, with real-time updates, recommendations and even insights and views in the form of posts.

  • Today’s CV

    In the modern era, CVs have evolved into two different formats – the traditional, detailed version, known as the academic CV, and the modern, concise alternative.

    The academic CV still contains a comprehensive description of an individual’s academic and professional history, with detailed descriptions of roles, responsibilities and achievements. Such a CV can run to many pages and describe all academic and professional achievements.

    On the other hand, the modern CV takes a more simplified approach, focusing on key achievements, skills and a visually appealing presentation. It is concise, specific and tailored to the job offer. Rather than listing your entire life experience and skills, it is edited and tailored to the requirements of the position you are applying for. Such a CV, usually laid out on a single page and saved in an easy-to-view format, enables applicants to quickly apply for jobs around the world.

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CV of the future

The future of the Curriculum Vitae (CV) will be shaped by ongoing technological developments, changing recruitment trends and a continued emphasis on personalisation and adaptability.

Now that the concept of working remotely from anywhere in the world is becoming more widespread and competition in the job market is fierce, the aim of the CV is not only to present your candidature but also to make you stand out from the crowd.

How will all this translate into the future of the Curriculum Vitae?

Some key trends will likely influence the evolution of the CV in the coming years:

Soft skills emphasis and personal branding

As the job market becomes more competitive, there may be a greater emphasis on highlighting soft skills and personal branding in CVs. Job seekers can focus on showcasing their communication, collaboration and adaptability skills, along with a clear presentation of their job-specific skills.

Integration with professional platforms

There is likely to be deeper integration between CVs and professional networking platforms. CVs will be seamlessly linked to online profiles, providing real-time updates and a more comprehensive overview of a candidate’s career.

Personalisation based on artificial intelligence

The rapid development of artificial intelligence is already having an impact on CVs. This impact is only expected to deepen in the future. AI tools are likely to be used not only for the writing of the CV itself but also for formatting and graphic design. This will increase the personalisation of CVs, making them more relevant to employers’ needs.

Interactive and multimedia elements

CVs can evolve to include more interactive and multimedia elements. Currently, such CVs are rare due to the skills required to create them, but this may change in the future as tools become more intuitive. Jobseekers can incorporate videos, infographics and dynamic content to showcase their skills and experiences in a more compelling and visually stimulating way.

Globalisation and multiculturalism

With increasing globalisation, CVs may need to adapt to different expectations and international recruitment standards. Job seekers can tailor their CVs to resonate with specific global markets, taking into account cultural and regional preferences.

Key Takeaways:

The history of a CV is rich and interesting.

  • The first Curriculum Vitae (CV) was written at the time of the Renaissance, with Leonardo da Vinci considered to be its pioneer.
  • Over the centuries, CVs have evolved through standardisation, digitalisation and the influence of professional networking platforms.
  • Future trends suggest a focus on transferable soft skills, integration with platforms, personalisation based on artificial intelligence, inclusion of multimedia elements and adaptation to global diversity.

Jagoda Obszarska

Senior Content Editor, SEO Content Writer

Meet Jagoda Obszarska – a certified copywriter, Polish language translator, and seasoned career adviser. Thriving on constant self-improvement, she eagerly stays ahead in her field. With a rich background working with individuals from over 50 countries, Jagoda has successfully completed more than a thousand projects in copywriting and translation.

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