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A résumé or a curriculum vitae (CV) is a document containing a summary or listing of relevant work experience and education, used for the purpose of obtaining an interview when seeking employment.

Traditionally, CVs have been oriented more toward what a person has accomplished thus far. In most contemporary career consulting, however, the trend is toward fashioning a document about what a person could accomplish in a particular job as well. This is sometimes called a 'targeted résumé'.

The word résumé is used more in the United States and English Canada; the Latin term curriculum vitae (CV) is more common in the UK and Ireland. In Australia, the words CV and résumé are used interchangeably. Meanwhile, the European Commission has produced its own guidelines for a CV format (outlined below).

A British CV usually contains the following points:

  • Personal details at the top: Your name in bold type, address, contact number(s), e-mail address. Photos are not required unless requested.
  • A personal profile, written in either the first or the third person: a short paragraph about the job seeker. This should be purely factual, free of any opinion about the writer's perceived qualities, but will include the person's professional assets and skills.
  • A reverse chronological list of the job seeker's education and training, i.e. academic and professional qualifications, plus memberships in professional organizations.
  • A list of skills and qualifications obtained outside the educational institutions listed (computer skills, linguistic skills, management courses, etc).
  • A reverse chronological list of the job seeker's work experience, including (if applicable) his or her current post. The early career can be lumped together in a short summary, but recent jobs should illustrate roles, concepts, achievements, etc.
  • Information about date of birth, gender and possession of a driving license is not required, so you might decide not to waste valuable space (unless this information is relevant to the job you are applying for).
  • Hobbies and interests (optional, but may be important in some cases)

Other useful tips

  • In the education section, include the name and type of the organization, the principal subjects and skills covered, the title of qualifications awarded, and the level of national classification reached (if applicable).
  • Indicate the years when you had completed each educational level.
  • For each job you have had, give the name and address of the employer, type of the sector, your job title, and a brief description of duties.
  • Describe the duties in about two lines using precise "power verbs" such as: designed, managed, authored, controlled, wrote, greeted, supervised, organized….phrasal verbs, in general, are not suitable because they tend to be vague. Use present tense for the current job, past tense for previous jobs. You can omit the pronoun /I/ as it is obvious who the doer is. An example: worked as a receptionist greeting clients, giving information in English and French, entering data and producing work schedules. Supervised three part-time employees.
  • Indicate the number of years or months you have held each job. You do not have to give precise times, however. If you had held a job from May to December 2002, it is OK to write just 2002 for instance.
  • Give more information about the job you consider most important - hopefully it is going to be the most recent one. Allocate less space to other jobs. Eliminate any work experience which is totally unrelated to the job you are applying for.
  • Make sure you have included any personal skills and competencies acquired in the course of your life and career but not necessarily covered by formal certificates and diplomas. Examples: computer skills (name the software you know), linguistic skills (fluent in German and English, basic Italian...), a driving license. How you are going to handle this section depends very much on the job you are applying for. This applies especially to the description of linguistic skills. For example, if you are applying for a job in the UK, the presumption is that you already know excellent English, and the information about your past English exams will be irrelevant.
  • You can also include important projects you had handled yourself and/or been part of. This may give you the opportunity to highlight a set of particular skills. The European Commission gives the following examples: Living and working with people in multi-cultural environments/ living in positions where communication is important/ being in situations where teamwork is essential (sports, cultural involvement, etc.)
  • In the section called references, include names, addresses, contact numbers and e-mails of people who can vouch for you.

Fonts and other considerations

  • You do not have to write the following: Name: Marketa Bilkova. The name itself will suffice. You will save valuable space on the page and create a cleaner, more attractive copy. The same applies to the inclusion of any dates: they can be hidden in the text if you wish, at the end of each line. Think in terms of graphic design: the empty spaces tend to highlight the text arrangement.
  • It is obligatory that a CV be word-processed, not hand written. Spend some time thinking about the font you are going to use. Certain fonts take up more space. Other fonts may appear too artistic. In general, only one font per CV will do. Characters in italics are not suitable for a CV.
  • Certain words can be given in bold letters, but be careful you do not overdo this feature. Similarly, be careful not to use too many capital letters. Capital letters are considered to be a bit "aggressive". Ditto for the feature of underlying certain information.
  • It goes without saying that spelling should be perfect. Think carefully where to capitalize and how to write figures and dates, too.
  • Save your CV and update it often. Whenever you want to apply for a job, you will just need to customize your copy by adding or subtracting certain facts and then write your cover letter.

There are certain faux pas concerning the writing and presentation of a CV:

  • The CV is longer than two sides of the A4-paper format
  • An accompanying "cover letter" is omitted
  • The CV is folded
  • The CV contains negative comments about other companies or certain individuals
  • Lying on a CV is considered fraud.


The European format

In 2005, The Council of Europe launched an initiative to present an updated format for "Europass CV". If you want to access this information, go into Google, type in "European CV format" and you might get the following web sites, among others. If you are online, click on the hyperlinks below:

Through Google, you can also access countless CV samples. Here is a British university web site dealing with CV writing:

References and resources:

  1. Wikipedia:
  2. The European Commission's web sites listed above
  3. Kent University Career Centre listed above
  4. Concordia University Career Centre:


Researched and compiled by Anna Regina Helal, in Ceske Budejovice, November 12, 2006. Please send any suggestions concerning this document to



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