The curriculum vitae, also known as CV, is a full overview of your professional and academic achievements similar to a resume. This document is substantially different from the cover letter, which is meant to be a concise introduction into your background and career accomplishments. Understanding the differences between these documents and how to leverage them effectively will greatly increase your chances of landing the interview during your job search. In this guide, we’ll examine the core aspects of the CV and cover letter and the various situations in which you would submit them.
What Is a CV?
In the U.S., the CV is primarily used when pursuing an academic position. Unlike the resume, which typically doesn’t exceed two pages, this document can be several pages in length. In addition to your degrees, certifications, and work experience, you can include other aspects of your career on your CV that you may not have the space for on a traditional resume. For example, you can mention your industry associations, conferences, publications, grants, and fellowships to further flesh out your professional experience. Although you’re not restricted by length, it is good to ensure that your document isn’t overly long. Be sure to weigh the value of your content and consider whether or not these details are truly relevant to the position you’re pursuing.
What Is a Cover Letter?
Unlike the CV, your cover letter will be more heavily targeted towards a single role. The format is vastly different, and it is important to keep your document strictly to one page. The content provides an opportunity to take a more personal approach to your language, since you’ll be conveying the majority of your career achievements in paragraph form. Another difference is that you’ll be addressing the hiring manager directly. You will need to devote a portion of your cover letter to conveying your interest in the company’s mission statement or reputation within your field. For additional resources and guidance, visit our cover letter example collection featuring samples across nearly every possible industry.
What To Include on a CV
Like the resume, the impact of your CV on the hiring manager will be determined by the strength of your content. In addition to your professional profile, work experience, and skills sections,consider featuring other aspects of your career that you normally wouldn’t have the space to include on your document, such as:
Although adding these sections will greatly increase the overall length of your document, this is usually acceptable, as the reader will likely be expecting the CV to be several pages long.
That being said, to maximize the impact of your CV, take the time to consider whether these additional details are relevant to the position you’re pursuing. For example, if a particular publication has no relevance to your current field, consider omitting it from your document. Technically speaking, the CV can be as long as you want it to be, but remember that including irrelevant information won’t help to secure interview opportunities.
How To Write a Winning CV
Now that you understand what to include on a CV, we’ll walk you through how to organize your content effectively to make a positive impression on the hiring manager. It can be difficult putting your career history onto the page and determining what information will be most compelling for the reader. Whether you’re crafting a resume or a CV, the goal is to tell your story and establish your personal brand as a professional within your field. Below, you’ll find a two-step guide to aid in building your CV and landing your next job opportunity.
Step 1 +
To create a compelling CV, begin by outlining the strongest aspects of your career achievements and academic accomplishments. Provide specific examples that draw attention to your industry expertise and thought leadership contributions within your field. One of the benefits of a CV is more bandwidth to tell a complete story of your professional background. Don’t be afraid to highlight achievements from the earlier stages of your career, provided they have relevance for the role you’re pursuing.
Now that you’ve created an initial outline for your content, carefully review your information and ask yourself whether or not these details are relevant for your target industry. Many job seekers create CVs riddled with information that doesn’t speak to their expertise within their current field simply because the document is allowed to be longer. If a project or publication doesn’t align with the needs of the position, you’re probably better off omitting the content unless it showcases another positive aspect of who you are as a professional. For example, even if the project doesn’t match your current industry, perhaps it showcases your leadership capabilities. Or the project may have had a substantial impact on the organization and thus is objectively impressive. It’s important to evaluate your content from all perspectives as you decide what to include or cut from your CV.
In this sample, the job seeker is an accomplished professional within the medical education space. Although the general format is akin to a normal resume, they utilize the increased length of their CV to provide deeper insights into their conferences, associations, and publications.
Notice that these additional details draw attention to the candidate’s background and experience as a thought leader within the medical education field. The job seeker also highlights their commitment and passion for diversity and inclusion.
- Sample CV
Meera Patel, Ph.D.
123 W. Adams Ave., Detroit, MI 12345
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Medical Science
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, Ann Arbor, MI. September 2011 – May 2018
Master of Education (M.Ed.), Instructional Design
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, Ann Arbor, MI. September 2009 – September 2011
Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Medical Science
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, Ann Arbor, MI. September 2005 – May 2009
Medical Education Consultant, Detroit Healthcare Educators, Detroit, MI
May 2021 – Present
- Serve as a consultant for stakeholders at a health care education company, which includes developing programs to refine training curriculum for medical students
- Interface with health care partners (HCPs) and C-level executives to ensure alignment with long-term organizational objectives
- Develop course content and workshops using instructional design principles and perform assessments to create train-the-trainer programs
Adjunct Professor, Medical Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
June 2018 – May 2021
- Taught medical science courses to 75+ medical students per semester, developed curriculum, designed courses, and performed academic assessments
- Coordinated with faculty to evaluate education programs and refine curriculums to improve student outcomes
- Provided academic advising and mentorship to students to drive professional development within the medical science field
Detroit Medical Education Association, Board Member, 2014 – Present
National Association of Instructional Designers, Member, 2011 – Present
“Telehealth Training and Education in the COVID-19 Era,” University of Michigan, 2021 | hyperlink
“Differentiated Instruction and Scaffolding within Medical Education,” University of Michigan, Published 2016 | hyperlink
“Using a Holistic Approach to Build Medical Education Programs and Curriculum,” University of Michigan, Published 2014 | hyperlink
Presentations and Seminars
“Diversity and Inclusion within Curriculum Development,” National Medical Education Conference, 2019
“Driving Engagement within E-learning Environments,” Medical Educators of America, 2017
“Professional Development and Leadership Seminar,” United Health Partners, 2015
- Medical Education
- Instructional Design
- Curriculum Development
- Medical Science
- Program Development