What is a CV? Definition (Curriculum Vitae Meaning and Use)

What is a CV? Definition (Curriculum Vitae Meaning and Use)

What is a CV? Why is there a misunderstanding about what a CV stands for?

It’s a significant problem.

“CV” has two different meanings and definitions depending on where you’re from.

Do not worry.

There is a clear justification (well, two). Scroll down to get the CV definition you require.

This guide will show you:

  • What a CV is in England or America.
  • What CV stands for & where to use it.
  • Why CV meaning differs by location.
  • How to write either kind of CV.

What is a CV Document?

CV stands for Curriculum Vitae or “course of life.”   In the US, a CV is a 2–12 page academic document that extensively describes your academic experience. A CV is a standard, position-specific resume in Europe that is between one and two pages long.

In other words, depending on where you are, a CV will have a different definition and meaning.

Here is a brief explanation of each type of CV and what it means:

What is an American CV?

A CV document is a detailed summary of your whole academic experience in the United States. It’s massive and comparable to a national or academic curriculum vitae.

It adds anything universities would be interested in because it isn’t geared to a single job position. In other words, everything you’ve ever published, presented or completed for school.

What Does CV Mean in England?

A CV is an application for a job in Europe and Ireland. It has one to two pages. Not every achievement is listed. Instead, it highlights successes that attest to essential qualities required for the position. Except for a few noteworthy differences, it is comparable to American resumes.

Do you need to write a CV or a resume? See our guide: CV vs. Resume: Difference, Definitions & When to Use Which

Pro Tip: What is a Curriculum Vitae? CV stands for those two Latin words. It’s an acronym for “Course of” and “Life.” Your resume is the course of your life in short.

What is a CV for jobs?

A resume for jobs and a CV are the same things. While Americans refer to it as a resume, Europeans and New Zealanders refer to it as a CV. The meaning of a CV is the same either way. A 1-2 page document summarizing skills and experience is all it is.

How to Write a CV for Jobs?

Wait a second.

Avoid writing a job CV if you are an American citizen. Instead, create a resume. Need support? See our guide: Creating a Resume (from Application to Interview in 24 Hours)

See the section below if you’re writing an academic CV and are in the US.

Here is a sample job CV you can use if you’re applying for a position in Europe or New Zealand:

  1. Select the appropriate CV format.
  2. Start with your contact information.
  3. Write a cv summary.
  4. Specify your professional background and accomplishments.
  5. Include a section on education relevant to the position.
  6. Salt in different CV sections to wow hiring managers.
  7. Submit your work as a PDF.

A job CV may be required to apply for employment in Europe or New Zealand. In that case, refer to our advice: How to Write a CV in 7 Simple Steps for a Job.

Pro Tip: What is a CV summary, you ask? It is analogous to a resume summary. A brief paragraph at the top of your resume summarizes your significant accomplishments.

What is an Academic CV ?

We know!

It isn’t calming

You’re attempting to summarize your academic career to impress influential people.

How do you begin? What are you omitting?


Stop pressing the panic button.

The good news is that creating a CV for academic work is not difficult at all. (However, a school’s CV has a distinct meaning.)

What is the Format of a CV?

  • Use 1-inch margins all the way around.
  • Pick one good CV font and stick with it.
  • Make your CV as long as you need.
  • Save your academic CV as a PDF.
  • List education first, then publication, honors, grants, and conferences.
  • Add teaching and research experience.

Want to learn more about the right CV format? Check this out: CV Format: How to Structure Your CV

Pro Tip: Your CV can be two pages long or six or 12 or 15. Just use whatever length lets you show all your academic accomplishments.

Write a CV Letter?

Let’s make this clear:

Some people think a CV is a letter. It’s not. It’s a kind of resume.

To evaluate, a CV is equivalent to an American resume in Europe.

The definition of a CV in America is a thorough academic resume.

However, a CV letter does exist.

What is a CV Letter?

A CV letter serves as a resume cover letter. Achievements that demonstrate your suitability for the position are added to a CV letter for a job in Europe or New Zealand. An academic CV shows enthusiasm and eligibility for a post or prize.

Do you need to write a CV letter? See our handbook: How to Write a Resume Cover Letter.

PRO TIP: Start your cover letter for your resume with a hook. So that they don’t grow bored and skip your letter and your CV, you need to attract the reader’s attention immediately away.

Key Takeaway

Summary: What exactly is a CV?

The definition of a CV is the same in Europe, Ireland, and New Zealand as in the US. Just different names that we use for them.

A CV is an extensive academic résumé typically 2–12 pages long in the US.

When applying to master’s or doctorate programs in the US, use an academic CV. Do not modify it for any position or job.

As for personalizing a US resume, you should do the same with a CV for a job in Europe or New Zealand.

Still can’t figure out the answer to “what is a CV?” Do you have questions about when to use a CV or when to use a resume? Give us a shout in the comments. We’d be happy to reply!

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