What is a CV? A short history of the curriculum vitae

What is a CV? A short history of the curriculum vitae

Did you know it was Leonardo da Vinci, who invented the CV to begin with?

Legend has it that Leonardo was hoping to get work from the Duke of Milan, so he wrote out a list of his skills and achievements (including sculpture and the construction of lightweight bridges) to impress the Duke. Thus, the first resume was put to paper in 1482.

A CV is about telling your story. After all, the meaning of the Latin words ‘curriculum vitae’, where the name ‘CV’ comes from, translates to 'the course of my life'.

Whether you’re applying for a promotion or applying for another job, your CV plays a key role in painting a picture of you for prospective employers. However, like fashion, CV trends come and go.

Back in the 1940s, height, weight, age and marital status were the key facts to include in presenting yourself to potential employers.

In the 1960s however, employers began looking at applicants as something greater than the sum of their parts. Listing your hobbies and interests — rugby, reading, baking — was suddenly in vogue. And the invention of digital typesetting in the 1970s began to give CVs style.

But the invention of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s, changed the CV altogether. Gone were the days of faxing a CV off and hoping for the best. Twenty years or so ago, attaching your CV to an email became the norm instead. And so did frantically checking your inbox hoping for a reply.

LinkedIn’s launch in 2003 signalled a further change. You can now also fully expect a recruiter to Google your name, meaning you should be careful what you post on Facebook.

After more than 500 years, the curriculum vitae is still important and relevant for prospective employers, but now with entirely new ways of presenting yourself and your experiences. Remember that the CV is still your most important tool for telling a potential employer about you. The resume, like you, has come a long way.

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Tags: CV  resume  curriculum vitae  

Posted: Monday 21 May 2018