What is a Functional Curriculum Vitae?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen
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Businessman giving a thumbs-up

A functional curriculum vitae (CV) is a document typically used to indicate the skills and abilities a person has to a potential employer. This is somewhat similar to a résumé, though it often focuses more on the skills a person has, rather than on previous work experience or educational background. While work experience is still listed on this type of CV, it is usually placed in a secondary position to the skills a person has that apply to the job he or she is interested in acquiring. A functional curriculum vitae is also often slightly longer than a résumé.

The term “curriculum vitae” refers to a type of document used extensively in countries outside of the US, and in certain fields in the US such as research and education. It is usually more extensive in length and information provided than a résumé, and may include information that would be left off of a résumé, such as personal interests and organizations joined while in academia. A functional curriculum vitae is simply a type of CV that stresses skills and abilities before professional experience. This can be beneficial in different instances, though a functional curriculum vitae is not always the optimal choice.

A standard résumé or CV usually lists a person’s professional experience at the beginning, giving it the greatest emphasis and importance. This can be a disadvantage for someone lacking in professional experience or with large gaps between terms of employment. A functional curriculum vitae can be used to circumvent this potential weakness, however, by highlighting the actual skills a person has, rather than employment experience. When creating a functional curriculum vitae, someone typically begins with his or her skills, divided into categories and accompanied by details regarding the nature of such skills and specific information when applicable.

While a résumé is usually only a single page in length, unless someone has extensive and noteworthy professional experience, a functional curriculum vitae is often two pages in length. This is due to the inclusion of more information and greater detail commonly provided on a CV. Though a functional curriculum vitae may be practical and effective for some people, such as those returning to the work force after a long absence or individuals with non-relevant work experience, it is not always the best choice. Someone with extensive professional experience that is relevant to the position he or she is applying for should typically utilize a standard résumé or CV, as this better highlights his or her experience.

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