23 Jan

Curriculum vitae for dummies: how to write

If you’ve never written a CV before, you’re in for a big learning curve. CVs are a lot more demanding than resumes. If you were trained to write a resume, you need to understand the basis of what CVs are all about, and how they’re used.

Curriculum vitae for dummies

CV basics

There are a few things you need to know about CVs:

  1. “CV” is the abbreviated form of “curriculum vitae”.
  2. “Curriculum Vitae” means “Course of life” in Latin.
  3. A CV is used by senior professionals, academics and public figures like actors, politicians and other highly individualized identities within professions.
  4. A CV is far more detailed than a resume.
  5. A CV includes a range of additional information related to professional activities, media and similar products.
  6. A CV must be competitive and highly efficient in delivery of required information.

Drafting your CV- Understanding CV structures

At noob level, your CV needs to be patiently constructed from the basics upwards. You need to understand how a CV is structured. You also need to be able to make a judgment on information quality.


  1. Explore a few CVs in your line of work online.
  2. Note how the information is formatted.
  3. See how the information content is organized.

As you can see, a CV does look quite like a standard resume, with a similar basic structure including these common elements:

  • Personal contact details
  • Work history
  • Qualifications
  • References

Now – See what’s different:

  1. Personal profile
  2. Work achievements
  3. Products and media
  4. Career track information

These differences are the big deals about CVs. They’re also the selling points for CVs. Modern resumes, in fact, are now copying these features of CVs, because that information is very high value.

The core elements of CVs

To explain in more detail:

  • Personal profile: This is a truly critical element in any CV. The personal profile establishes the identity of the person. This profile is usually a statement of personal credentials. The personal profile is very much a high quality piece.
  • Work achievements: This part of the CV is the nuts and bolts of a professional CV, and it must be done well. In top quality CVs, these achievements are used for targeting purposes. For example, in an academic resume, research works and publications would be the natural areas of interest for a CV.
  • Products and media: A natural corollary with work achievements and often included in the same section, these materials are additional supports for the candidate’s credentials.
  • Career track information: This is one of the more advanced parts of a professional CV- The career track is also a statement of career status. A senior CEO, for example, can show a very strong range of skills and personal accomplishments in this way.

Considerations for your CV

The most important parts of your CV are your unique, distinguishing characteristics. What’s special about your career track? What are your major achievements? How do you show your strongest skills and abilities?

When drafting your CV:

  • Map out each section of your CV
  • Do a basic draft, using bullet points if necessary to separate specific information.
  • Don’t be too verbose with your draft – You can add more later, just keep an eye on the information quality.
  • When you’ve filled in the basic sections, review. Add information selectively, and avoid duplicating information in different sections.

Formatting your CV

Now the good news – Formatting your CV is easy. You can use what’s called “magazine” formatting to turn your CV into a very interesting, very well laid out document. Check out the standout layouts on the latest CVs. Use graphics, photos, graphs, performance indicators, latest curriculum vitae formats.

Resumes for dummies can be a lot of fun, and very productive. You’ll find your CV was worth the effort.

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