Developing a Professional CV

CV versus Resume

A CV or curriculum vitae is a detailed summary of your education, employment history, accomplishments, skills, publications, and any other information that is relevant to your professional field. A Resume is a summary of your CV or a generally scaled down, much shortened version. As a professional, you should develop and submit a CV.


What Attorneys Look For

Attorneys, paralegals, and office LNCs are very busy so it is important to develop a CV that provides the necessary information quickly. Most attorneys spend 10-30 seconds when first reviewing a CV, less if the candidate is unqualified. So presentation is the key. If you are one who dots your I’s and crosses your T’s, when representing yourself on your CV, you are most likely a detail oriented person who will be hired.

Neatness counts! Misspelled words, poor formatting, poorly structured and badly typed CVs tells the attorney much about the applicant. Many an LNC has lost a client due to a poorly constructed CV.


Getting Started

While it is often easiest to start where you left off on your previous CV or resume, taking the time to refocus on past accomplishments and rework the wording of your CV is a great investment of time if you find your CV has not been producing results in the past. Identify your business goals. If you wish to do merit screens then include information about skills and education related to merit screening. If you wish to be an expert witness, your CV should lean towards your clinical experience and less towards your education as an LNC. Keep ONE main CV. Most attorneys keep CVs on file for one year while others keep them indefinitely. Seeing multiple CVs with completely different content can raise a Red Flag.

Make sure your full contact information is present, current and correct. This information should include: Full Legal Name, Business Name (if you have one), Phone, Email, and Website Information. Not providing an address is another Red Flag. Place your name and email address on each page of your CV in case it becomes separated.

And while we are on this subject, make sure your email address is professional and not a combination of husband/wife email or a cutesy school nickname. If necessary obtain a gmail address for your professional email.


You should have a specific section for your educational accomplishments. Information to include: College or University Name, Field of Study, Degree, and Date of Completion. Make sure to include any and all specific classes such as a credited class in Nursing Management or a course in medical coding.

Degree in Progress or No Degree

If you are currently enrolled in a degree program, the rule of thumb is to use “currently attending” or “currently enrolled”. Refrain from using anticipated completion dates as attorneys/clients generally view this date pushed back over and over again and thus a Red Flag is created. If you have not completed your degree, be up front. If you have completed some college it is okay to mention that on your CV but make sure that it is clear that you have not finished.

Employment History

Chronological order is generally the best method – starting with your current position and working your way back. Include: Title of Position, Employer, Dates of Employment, and location for each position listed. If you are a remote employee, use the location of the office that your report to or your home address along with a note that you are a remote employee.

For each of your positions, you want to include your duties and your accomplishments. You may use the company job description as a template, but you want to add the job duties that you are actually responsible for. If you have multiple positions with similar descriptions, try to find some of the differences and accomplishments to diminish repetitiveness. Use positive language. when describing your work achievements and include power words such as ‘launched’, ‘managed’, ‘coordinated’, ‘motivated’, ‘supervised’, and ‘achieved’.

Be clear and concise, but make sure all relevant information is included. You do not want to omit certain tasks that potential employers are going to want to see. A CV is allowed to be long (within reason). Remember, this is a detailed outlook of your background. Employers can skim through information that they might not want to read, but they might come back and take a closer look the second time around. There is a point where a CV can get too long, sometimes a separate addendum is appropriate, but don’t rely on the attorney to read it with a fine tooth comb.


You want to make your CV as easy to read as possible with a natural progression. Proper and consistent spacing helps create flow. Map out your CV; you may wish to use the template listed at the end of this blog to identify sections for your CV.

Finishing Touches

Always Spellcheck and Grammar Check! This is especially true if saving as a PDF. Print a copy and review with a fresh set of eyes. Get a third party (or two) to review and look for errors and inconsistencies.


  • If you are considering enclosing a photograph of yourself, DON’T! It is not necessary.
  • If you are planning to use personal references on your CV, DON’T! A potential client is interested in references only if he or she is seriously hiring you and may ask you to provide this information at a later date.


Writing a CV is a daunting task for many. There are numerous websites and blogs which will provide you with tips to get the most of your CV. While there is no magic formula for writing the perfect CV, there are certain tricks you can do to develop an award winning product. Through careful research, attention to formatting and content, and careful planning, you will be able to develop a standout CV!


The Vitae Checklist

  • Name and contact information, including work and home phone numbers, address and e-mail
  • Education, including college degrees, places and dates
  • Licenses/certification, including state and certificate number, if applicable
  • Internships
  • Professional experience
  • Publications
  • Professional or academic presentations
  • Honors, scholarships, fellowships or awards
  • Professional organization memberships
  • Volunteer or service work
  • Sections for teaching, research or clinical experience

Author: Susan K Smith, DNP, RN, CEN, CCRN

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