What is a CV?

Updated 27 July 2023

A CV (short for the Latin phrase curriculum vitae, which means “course of life”) is a detailed document highlighting your professional and academic history. CVs typically include information such as work experience, achievements and awards, scholarships or grants you’ve earned, coursework, research projects and publications of your work.

If you need help determining how to write one, here’s some handy information that will help along with an easy-to-follow example template to ensure you craft a powerful CV that stands out to employers.

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CV vs. Resume

A CV and resume are similar in that both are documents that summarise your professional history, education, skills and achievements. Both are also documents you would provide an employer when applying for a job.

In Australia, the words CV and resume are used interchangeably. As a result, it’s often ok to submit a resume when the job description asks for a CV—or vice versa.

If you’re applying for roles abroad, it is important to note that in the United States and most of Europe, resumes and CVs are not interchangeable. A resume is a shorter-form document that provides a concise overview of your previous roles, skills and details about your education. (The French word résumé translates to “abstract” or “summary.”) A CV, on the other hand, is typically a longer, more detailed document focused largely on academic coursework and research.

How to write a CV

Most CVs include the following information:

  • Contact information

  • Education

  • Professional experience

  • Qualifications and skills

  • Awards and honours

  • Grants and sponsorships

  • Licences and certificates

  • Volunteer work

  • Hobbies and interests (Optional)

CV Example Template

1. Contact information
  • Full name

  • Address (including city, state and postcode)

  • Phone number

  • Email address

For example:
Kate Smith
1234 Main Street, Sydney, NSW 2000

2. Education (in reverse-chronological order)
  • Postdoctoral program

  • Postgraduate school

  • University

  • TAFE

  • High school

For example:
Bachelor of Science, Accounting, 2018
University of Queensland

3. Professional experience
  • Name of organisation

  • Job title/position

  • Dates employed

  • Details about duties, experience and achievements

For example:
University of Western Australia
Professor, The Oral Health Centre of Western Australia | 2012–2018
Taught multiple undergraduate and postgraduate courses in orthodontics.
Fostered student commitment to lifelong learning and excellence in dentistry.
Fostered student commitment to lifelong learning and excellence in dentistry.

4. Qualifications and skills
  • Hard skills

  • Soft skills

  • Accreditations and certifications

For example:
Team leadership
Seminar instruction
Fluent in English, Mandarin and Italian
Certification in Occupational Therapy

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

5. Awards and honours
  • Award name

  • Year awarded

  • Organisation that gave award

  • Award details (how often the award is given, how many people receive the award, etc.)

For example:
Wallace Brown Young Journalist Award, 2018
National Press Club of Australia
Awarded for excellence in journalism to one individual in their first years of working in the Press Gallery in Australia each year.

Related: 'Passionate' Synonym for a Resume: 50 Types with Examples

Final thoughts

Before submitting your job application, be sure to thoroughly review your CV for any errors or inconsistencies. Consider asking a trusted colleague or mentor to review it as well—especially if they’re experienced in the industry you’re applying to. A second opinion can be useful in helping you craft a well-polished CV.

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