How to Write a CV
| Nina Chamlou
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When applying to a fellowship, graduate program, or internship in psychology, you may be asked to submit a curriculum vitae (CV) for the first time. So, what is a CV? You may have heard it's basically the same as a resume, but this isn't quite true.
The Difference Between a Resume and a CV
The key distinction between a CV vs. resume lies in the meanings of the two phrases. 'CV' stands for curriculum vitae, or "course of life" in Latin. 'Resume' is the French word for "summary."
Basically, your psychology resume serves as an overview of your work history, volunteer work, skills, and education. It should give recruiters a snapshot (or summary) of your experience and areas of interest on one page.
Your CV should go into more detail. You can include achievements, honors, community service, research projects, and publications. Experienced professionals may have CVs up to 12 pages in length, but those early in their careers typically cover 2-3 pages.
In the U.S., resumes are the standard document needed during the job search in most industries. CVs are typically only used in academica, science, and medicine. While most employers prefer that you provide either a resume or CV, some may ask you to provide both. This way, they can narrow down a large pool of candidates by glancing at their resumes. Then, they may use the CV to gain a deeper insight into past projects and roles.
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Setting Up Your CV
The first step in writing your CV is to format your document correctly. Leave margins at the standard one-inch mark, or adjust them down to half an inch if necessary. Set the font to Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or Verdana in size 11 or 12.
Then, list your contact information in the top left corner of the first page, including your first and last name, mailing address, phone number, and email address (on separate lines).
Separate the rest of the CV with headers, which should be larger than the body text, such as using font sizes between 14-18. Underneath the appropriate section, include each job title, project, or accomplishment, followed by an explanation of the role. Listing the details of each role with bullet points can make the document easier to read.
Sections to Include
CVs typically include the following headers. If you do not have any relevant information to put in any of the sections, you can omit the section entirely.
If you are currently enrolled, list the name of the program and your anticipated graduation date.
Put the position titles in bold, followed by the employment time period. Include 2-3 sentences describing your responsibilities and achievements within the role.
For presentations, list the title, date, and the name of the event in which you presented. If you have quite a few papers and presentations to list, you can separate these into two sections.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Avoid including anything that could be seen as unprofessional, such as slang, use of bright colors, an unprofessional email address, photos, or use of humor. Some recruiters may not mind, but it's better to avoid the risk of putting off a potential employer.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does CV stand for?
CV stands for curriculum vitae, which means "course of life" in Latin.
What is the difference between a CV and resume?
In the U.S., CVs are typically only used in the fields of academia, science, and medicine. They can be several pages in length, whereas resumes are typically limited to one page.
How long should a CV be?
Your CV could be as short as two pages and as long as 10 pages. This all depends on your experience level. Students and recent graduates don't need a CV more than 2-3 pages in length. An experienced professor likely has various publications and experiences to list, which could result in a longer CV.
Should I list an objective statement at the top of my CV?
Including a short summary of your goals and experiences is considered acceptable by most employers. However, an overly general objective statement filled with buzz words or cliches can make you seem less professional to recruiters, so make sure your statement adds valuable context to your CV if you choose to include one.
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