The Curriculum Vitae

The terms résumé and curriculum vitae (CV, vitae) are commonly used interchangeably, but they are different types of documents. Résumé is a French word meaning "summarized" and curriculum vitae is a Latin term meaning "course of one's life." While both documents represent you as a professional, they differ in several ways. A CV acts as a record of scholarly activities and accomplishments and is used by health care professionals and academicians. A résumé is a snapshot, designed to sell your relevant skills and experiences to a specific employer. The goal of a CV is to present a complete picture of the breadth and depth of professional and academic experiences. It is an all-encompassing intellectual portrait and should include academic history from the beginning of veterinary school with the inclusion of career-related experiences.  Select experiences from undergrad should be brief and relevant to your anticipated career path.

A CV can be any length, but a résumé is never more than two pages. A CV may include a list of professional work experiences, externships, elective coursework, publications, presentations, honors, grants, and professional activities. A CV typically includes a list of three to five references, a résumé does not. If résumé format is used, a reference list is prepared to be available upon request.

The CV format should be used when applying for an internship, research position, or a job in veterinary practice. As a veterinary professional, the CV is appropriate for most circumstances.  Veterinary students should begin to document their professional experiences in CV format during the 1st year of veterinary school. The exception for veterinarians may be corporate (marketing) practice, which may (or may not) require a résumé application.

A CV should be legible, concise, consistent, and easy to scan. Information should be listed in categories with consistent style, format, and language, within and among categories. Bold and italic typeface should be used wisely and consistently, but sparingly. Employers will make their first decision regarding an application by scan reading a CV. They are initially searching for just a few keywords relevant to their practice or position. The presentation and quality of a CV provides a critical first impression.

Guidelines for a Professional CV

  1. DO make the vita clear and concise. Every word counts.

  2. DO try to obtain copies of several vitae from individuals who are at a similar stage of professional development or slightly ahead to use as examples.

  3. DO take time to create a clean format.  Style matters. A vita should appear professional and uncluttered.

  4. DO check carefully for mistakes and typographical errors. Without exception, it must be absolutely error-free. Proofread, use spell-check, have someone else review it, and proofread it again. Proofread every new version.

  5. DO have a faculty adviser, colleague, family member, or friend review the vita before distribution. They will notice inconsistencies and typographical errors, and may have style trend suggestions specific to an area of interest.

  6. DO develop your CV as a first year student and add information every six months.  It is difficult to recall activities and experiences from the first four years of professional school during your fourth year. 

  7. DON’T use an objective statement. Using an objective statement or short paragraph summarizing strengths/experiences is a dated practice that limits the credibility of the document. Save this information for the letter of intent or cover letter.

  8. DON’T give the appearance of padding a vita by including minor accomplishments, high school awards and activities, and non-professional work experiences.

  9. DON’T give excessive detail about professional experiences (e.g., most veterinary assistant activities are similar). Don’t reiterate every task. Avoid repetitive content.

  10. DON’T list irrelevant personal information such as height, weight, age, date of birth, marital status, social security number, children, hobbies or personal interests in a résumé, CV, or cover letter.  

  11. DON’T use category subheadings that are more ambitious than their content (e.g., "Articles, Publications, and Grant Proposals" followed by one grant proposal). Use "Professional Activities" as a broad category, with the intent of adding specific categories as time and accomplishments warrant.

  12. DON’T print a CV on colored, busy, or textured paper.

  13. DON’T list all previous employment. Focus on relevant career experiences. List positions held in the last 5 years plus positions that are directly applicable to the prospective position.

  14. DON’T include a photo. It is unprofessional and provides an opportunity for discrimination.

Example of Curriculum Vitae (PDF)