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What Is a CV & What Does CV Stand For? Meaning Explained

What Is a CV & What Does CV Stand For? Meaning Explained

We can’t tell you the meaning of life, but we can tell you the meaning of CV: what it stands for, its purpose, and how to make yours perfect.

It seems obvious. A CV is something you use to apply for a job. But stop to think for a second. What does CV stand for? Are CVs the same across the world?


In fact, a British CV and an American CV aren’t the same thing at all. Confused? Don’t be. You’re about to learn everything you need to know about CV meaning.


This guide will show you:

  • The meaning of CV in different countries.
  • What CV stands for.
  • What each type of CV includes.


Want to save time and have your CV ready in 5 minutes? Try our CV builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ CV templates and create your CV here.


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Sample CV made with our builder—See more CV examples here.


Once you’ve learned everything about the meaning of a curriculum vitae and its use, make sure your CV trully stands out with help from:


What is a CV?


A CV is a standardized formal document used to apply for jobs. CV stands for curriculum vitae, meaning ‘course of life’ in Latin. A curriculum vitae summarizes your work experience, education, and skills gained over the course of your professional life.


But here’s the interesting part. The document itself changes depending on where you’re located. So while CV always stands for the same thing, the meaning of curriculum vitae varies.


What is a British CV?


A CV  in the UK, Commonwealth countries, Europe and Asia is a short document, no more than two pages long, that people use to present their experience, education, key skills, and accomplishments, most often to apply for a new job.


In the UK there are two main types of CV format, chronological and skills-based CV

  • A chronological CV focuses on professional experience and is used by candidates with a conventional work history. 
  • Skills-based CVs focus on transferable skills and used by career changers and people with unconventional work histories, like freelancers and gig economy workers.


What to Include in a British CV


Here’s how to write a CV for a job in the UK. These instructions are for a chronological CV.


  1. Create a good CV layout.
  2. Start with a CV header with your name and contact details.
  3. Write a compelling CV personal statement to introduce yourself.
  4. Craft a work experience section targeted to the job.
  5. Add an education section.
  6. Include a list of relevant CV skills.
  7. Throw in some additional sections to stand out from the crowd.

Learn more about how to write a British CV here: How to Write a CV: Professional UK Examples


When making a CV in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional CV template here for free.


When you’re done, Zety’s CV builder will score your CV and tell you exactly how to make it better.

What is an American CV


A CV in the US is a detailed document that can run to many pages in length and presents your life experience and accomplishments including education, research you’ve conducted, work you’ve had published and presentations you’ve given.


As you can probably guess from the description it’s used mainly for jobs in academia and for roles in medical and scientific research. It’s also used for applying for grants and scholarships. 


Unlike a British CV, there’s no set format for American academic CVs, they’re tailored differently for specific purposes and according to the employer’s requirements. And there’s no page limit unless the employer specifies otherwise. 


What to Include in an American CV


These are the sections you need to include in an American academic CV.


  1. Contact Information
  2. Research Objective or Personal Profile
  3. Education
  4. Professional Appointments
  5. Publications
  6. Awards and Honors
  7. Grants and Fellowships
  8. Conferences
  9. Teaching Experience
  10. Research Experience
  11. Additional Activities
  12. Languages and Skills
  13. References


And that’s all there is to it. Everything you need to know about what does CV stand for and what does it mean.

Learn more about how to write an American CV here: Academic CV Example and Writing Guide

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your CV will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:


matching set of cv and cover letter

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway


So in summary, what does CV stand for and what is the meaning of CV?

  • CV stands for curriculum vitae, which is Latin for ‘course of life’.
  • A British CV is a short 1–2 page long document used for conventional job applications. 
  • In America, a CV is a lengthy and detailed document used mainly for academic roles.


Thanks for reading. Do you now know the full meaning of CV? Have I fully answered the question “what does CV stand for”? If there’s anything else you want to know then hit me up in the comments section and I’ll be happy to help.

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Jacques Buffett, CPRW
Jacques, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW), is a career expert who has published almost 200 articles on Zety. His insights and advice have been published by LinkedIn, Forbes, MSN, Yahoo!, Business Insider, AOL, U.S. News, and other top news outlets. He also has extensive professional experience in people management and recruitment.

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