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Getting your dream job largely depends on whether the recruiter likes your CV. It has probably happened to you on more than one occasion that, despite meeting the criteria of a job advertisement, the telephone was silent. So, what is the exact CV meaning, or Curriculum Vitae definition, what standards does it follow and what are the most popular CV formats? You are about to find out! In this comprehensive guide we will take you through all the ins and outs of CVs, provide examples of Curriculum Vitae and answer the most common question about CV online: what makes a good CV (Curriculum Vitae)?
Table of Contents
- What does CV stand for?
- Difference between CV and resume
- What are the CV standards in other countries?
- How long should a CV be?
- What to put in a CV?
- What are the latest CV templates?
- What are the different CV examples?
- What are the different CV Formats?
- What are the latest CV Layouts?
- What makes a good CV?
- CVs for every job and industry
- CV online
What does CV stand for?
If you have ever applied for a job, you have surely been asked to enclose a document called a CV. Perhaps you have even heard the CV full form, Curriculum Vitae. Although so popular and ubiquitous, few people really know what does CV mean. We know this can be a bit confusing. If you are among those who are unsure of the Curriculum Vitae definition, what exactly it should contain, what CV format is most appropriate for you, and what are the current, most up-to-date standards for writing a CV, this guide is for you.
CV or Curriculum Vitae is a term that is now used across the world, however, it originally comes from Latin and translates to 'a course of life'. According to historical records, it was first used as early as the 1st century BC! The main purpose of a CV is to present, among other things, the education and experience of the job applicant in a clear and easily-readable form.
There are two main uses for CVs. The first one, which is the most commonly known, is a CV as a representation of the professional profile when applying for a job. Employers ask to submit it along with a job application to get to know the candidates better. In its current form, a Curriculum Vitae is usually a one-page long document outlining a person's professional profile. It contains information such as:
The second known CV definition is the academic Curriculum Vitae. It contains a professional profile with comprehensive details of education, experience, and academic achievements. It includes the titles of all the person's academic work, therefore an academic CV can often be several or even dozens of pages long.
In our ever-changing world, trends and standards, including those for the hiring process, change in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, you don't have to spend long hours just learning the nuances. We've gathered for you all the latest CV templates, practical examples, and the most commonly expected by recruiters CV formats.
Difference between CV and resume
When you think of a job application, terms such as cover letter, personal statement, Curriculum Vitae (CV) and resume probably come to mind. You must have asked yourself at least once: what is the difference between CV and resume? We can often see these phrases being used alternately. At other times, we hear mention that there are differences between CVs and resumes. So what is it exactly about?
CV vs resume: Main difference
When you apply for a job, your potential British employer will ask you to submit a Curriculum Vitae, whereas an American employer will ask for a resume. And guess what, they will both be referring to the same document!
Does it mean that Americans don't use the term Curriculum Vitae at all? No, they do, but they mean a slightly different document to what we think of in the UK.
CV definition in the UK
Here in the UK, we use the term Curriculum Vitae to refer to documents that are intended to represent a person's professional achievements. As mentioned earlier, there is a distinction between an ordinary CV and an academic one. The former is generally known. Certainly, we have all dealt with it at least once in our lives. It is a short, concise presentation of a professional profile and usually fits on one, maximum two A4 pages. This is the same document that is known in America as a resume. The latter, on the other hand, is a longer document that also contains a collection of all the academic achievements of a person.
CV definition in the US
Over the pond, the term Curriculum Vitae (CV) is used to describe an academic CV - a long, comprehensive document, which in addition to the standard information contains a collection of academic achievements. Doctors, Professors, eminent Scholars will have impressive, multi-page CVs containing the titles of their scientific papers, perhaps inventions and patents. If you want to apply for a job in the US, you will be asked to submit a resume instead of a CV.
Every country has its own practises of the employment process, as well as legal regulations and other relevant aspects, and that is why standards for CVs may vary from country to country. Let’s compare some of them.
What are the CV
standards in other countries?
Writing a Curriculum Vitae is a very important process. After all, it is the document that determines whether you will be invited to an interview and, ultimately, hired. We all want to make the best possible impression on recruiters and employers. It turns out that while the general principles of a CV are quite similar, individual countries have their own specific requirements. Let's take a look at some of them:
CV in South Africa
The South African CV differs from the UK in some rather important ways. But let's start with the similarities.
Just like in the UK, the South African CV should be no longer than 2 pages. It also should not include a photograph. What matters is your achievements work ethic and education.
A good CV, drawn up according to guidelines that can be found on, among other places, the government website, should include:
- Personal details. Note: there is a little more detail here than in the UK CV. As well as your name and contact details, you will include your date and place of birth, gender, marital status, ID number, driving licence information and even your health.
- Education, including all additional courses and certificates,
- Skills, detailing computer skills and languages,
- List of awards or special achievements,
- In addition to this, it is very important that your CV contains a credible references section, so that your potential employer can check how you performed in your previous position.
CV in Poland
In Poland, the standards for a CV are largely the same as those generally found in other European countries. It is interesting to note that the vast majority of Polish Curriculum Vitae should contain a professional photograph of the candidate. What else should be included?
- contact details: name, telephone number, email. However, providing the full home address is rare.
- professional experience, usually up to 3 positions back,
- hobbies or interests.
Yes, there is a special place for hobbies in the CV! Similar interests help to build a good, close-knit team.
CV in Australia
Forget what you know about CV mate! The Australian Curriculum Vitae differs from the UK Curriculum Vitae on several important points.
Let's start with the fact that if you already have some work experience, your CV in Australia should be 3 or even 4 pages long! A one-page CV is considered insufficient even for those new to the job market. What should an Australian CV contain?
- Career objective or summary. This is where you briefly outline your achievements and career goals.
- Contact details such as name, email, telephone number.
- Work experience with highlighted achievements and/or responsibilities,
- List of references with their contact details.
How long should a CV be?
When you apply for a job in the UK, your CV should conform to generally accepted standards. The right format and layout will ensure that your CV looks professional and clearly states the most important information. What is rarely mentioned is that usually before a CV reaches a recruiter it is scanned by special software. If the Curriculum Vitae does not meet certain requirements, the software will reject it at this early stage.
So, how long should a UK CV be?
In terms of length, two CV formats are acceptable: one-page and two-page. It is strongly recommended that you choose the former. If you are having trouble arranging your information on the page, consider these solutions:
- Include only work experience that is relevant to the role you are applying for. Focus on the last three positions.
- Same with education. If you are an experienced professional, cover only education in your field of expertise. But don’t forget to mention about the rest of your education and experience in your cover letter!
- See if a change in layout would help to better break up the information on the page. If you are unsure how to do this, check out our ready-made CV templates.
A two-page CV, although much less common, may apply to highly experienced professionals.
What to put in a CV?
A standard Curriculum Vitae should include sections such as contact details, professional summary (or personal statement), experience, skills and education. This is why you will find these sections already integrated into our templates by default. Using our CV builder, with the click of a button you can add additional sections such as achievements, certificates and more. You can even add your own customized box!
CV full form
While it may vary in format or layout, your Curriculum Vitae should generally include some basic components such as:
Although this seems obvious, it still happens that some people forget to include residential address in their Curriculum Vitae. Apart from this, your CV should also include your e-mail address, telephone number and, if you have one, a link to your professional portfolio.
A short description of your career profile can help the employer to get a better understanding of your goals. In these 3-4 sentences, cover what best highlights your expertise and personality. This could be work experience, unique skills, or achievements.
In this section of your CV, include dates of employment, the exact job title, company name and location. It might be a good move to include duties performed or accomplishments.
Consider dividing your skills into soft and hard skills. If you are not sure what skills to include in your Curriculum Vitae, you can check the CV examples including skills for specific jobs.
Provide information about your educational background. Include those most relevant to the role you are applying for. If you have received additional training relevant to the role - this is the place to mention it.
What are the latest CV templates?
The aim of the Curriculum Vitae is to present you - your successes, experience, and education in the best possible way. When you apply for a job, dozens if not hundreds of candidates with similar professional profiles apply with you. How to stand out from the crowd and catch the recruiter's attention? One sure way is a professional and attractive CV with an original design. There is a multitude of CV formats: some more colourful, others more subdued, some with columns, and others with a simple layout. We are well aware that creating a CV is a difficult art. If you're looking for inspiration, here are some examples of how to use the latest CV templates.
For example, the modern template has a touch of colour and clearly marked and separated sections. You can play with the colour according to your preference. This template will work great for people who appreciate the professionalism with a hint of extravagance. On the other hand, classic enthusiasts, those with very serious jobs, where full professionalism and gravity play the most important role, will surely appreciate the universal or the British template.
What are the different CV examples?
Think about what your CV is supposed to convey. If you are, for example, a lawyer or an auditor, it would be good for your Curriculum Vitae to be elegant, sophisticated and above all, highly polished. This doesn't mean you can't add some colour, but go for subtle tones.
On the other hand, if you are applying for a teaching position, an advertising specialist or a social media manager, a creative, colourful CV is a great choice. See our CV suggestions for specific jobs.
Take a look at the examples of the administration CV and the sport and leisure one. The admin CV is elegant, clear, highly professional and demonstrates the candidate's good organisational skills. The sport and leisure CV, although containing slightly less content, has it well laid out across the page. It is just as professional and clear as the previous one, but thanks to the use of colour and the right layout it stands out in a positive way and the person it presents appears to be as competent as they are friendly.
What are the different CV Formats?
Currently, there are two main CV formats in the UK: reverse chronological and skill-based. The most commonly used, and expected by recruiters, is the former. Reverse chronological CV presents your experience in such a way that the most recent is at the top of the list. This set-up allows for a quick overview of your current situation, seeing your progression track and understanding your professional goals. The skill-based CV format, on the other hand, focuses on highlighting your CV skills instead of work experience. It indicates that although you may not have much experience yet, you can perform well in the role because you have the necessary skills. At the same time, it shows your enthusiasm and commitment. While it may not be the first choice of professionals, it can work well for those looking for their first job and having little experience but a lot of drive.
What are the latest CV Layouts?
The layout of your Curriculum Vitae is crucial. It refers to the whole visual aspect of your Curriculum Vitae. Every detail matters. Both how and where you place sections, the size of headings, font and background colours, and so on. While the CV format focuses on the content, layout refers to how it is presented and arranged in your CV.
A well-chosen layout allows you to express yourself and your personality in a very subtle way. It is worth adapting it to the job you are applying for.
Our advanced CV builder allows you to fully customise your CV. Simply choose your favourite layout from the CV templates and once you have entered all the details, you can rearrange it any way you like, choose the colour, font and even move, add or remove sections. It really is that simple!
What makes a good CV?
There are many designs, templates and examples of CVs, varying in the way sections are laid out, font, colour, and purpose. When you create a resume, you want it to be unique enough to catch a recruiter's eye.
But most of all, you want it to be good enough to get you invited for an interview, right?
Here are some ultimate CV tips that make up a good CV.
Include relevant, factual information. It is said that everyone lies a little bit in their CV, but you know what, your potential employer can easily verify any information you give them. It's not worth the risk.
Make sure your CV contains all the required sections.
Check if your CV looks professional and aesthetically pleasing. You don't want a bland block of text. Use a suitable layout that fits on one, maximum two A4 pages.
Use correct British English.
Proofread it. And then ask someone to proofread it for you. There is nothing worse than errors and typos in a CV.
CVs for every job and industry
Regardless of industry, education or level of experience, with us you can create a unique and personalised Curriculum Vitae. Catch the attention of recruiters, stand out from other applicants and be one step closer to your dream job with the perfect CV.