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  3. Looking to write a comprehensive resume? Here's how!
Looking to write a comprehensive resume? Here's how!

Looking to write a comprehensive resume? Here's how!

Artwork by: Aleksandra Remaruk

  • The difference between a standard and comprehensive resume
  • Constructing a comprehensive resume
  • What does a comprehensive resume look like?
  • Key takeaways

Sometimes, “standard” just won’t cut it. If you’re looking to create a comprehensive resume, look no further. We’ve got the lowdown on how to accurately detail your impressive background to set yourself up for success.

You may have heard the term "comprehensive resume" and wondered what it meant. Aren't all resumes comprehensive? They give a potential employer an overview of your background and experience—what else is there? But hold on a minute, there is a difference between a “standard” resume and a comprehensive one, and each should be utilized in certain career situations. Knowing the difference can help you properly highlight the skills an employer is looking for, and increase your chances of getting an interview.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to write a comprehensive resume, including:

  • What is the difference between a standard resume and a comprehensive resume?

  • What are the do's and don'ts in making a comprehensive resume?

  • What does a comprehensive resume look like—a template you can use

The difference between a standard and comprehensive resume

A standard resume is generally a concise summary of your background and experience—basically, it’s your “best of” reel. Generally no more than one to two pages in length, it provides an overview of your work history, accomplishments, and education. A comprehensive resume (often called a Curriculum Vitae, or CV for short) is a longer (two to eight pages, depending on your field), more in-depth record of your entire work history, special skills or abilities, education, and all relevant accomplishments, credentials, and honors. The comprehensive resume is generally reserved for those in academia or with extensive, high-level experience, which means the typical job seeker will still be using a traditional/standard resume.

  • Match your functions and skills for each job for which you’re applying (but be truthful!)
  • Format your resume in reverse chronological order.
  • Include an introductory section (or professional summary) that succinctly illustrates who you are and why you’re qualified for the jobs you’re looking for.
  • Forget to list your professional affiliations and highly specialized skills.
  • Include summer or part-time positions unless they’re relevant.
  • Provide personal information such as religious affiliation or marital status (in the U.S.).

Constructing a comprehensive resume

Remember, a comprehensive resume is a longer, more detailed presentation of your career history. If you're not in academia, research, or science, you will probably want to stick with a standard resume. But if the job you're applying for requires a comprehensive resume (or CV), there are some differences in the format of which you need to be aware. (And don't be afraid to ask what type of resume the company would prefer—better to be safe than sorry.)

Typically, a comprehensive resume will include the following:

  • Contact information, including your full name, phone number, email, physical address, and any appropriate social media profiles.

  • Professional summary to highlight your most relevant areas of expertise.

  • Complete academic history, including degrees, name of your school, training, professional certifications and licenses, and any relevant coursework you’ve completed.

  • Work experience, including your job title, company name, responsibilities, and accomplishments.

  • Technical skills section to showcase your technical proficiencies, or adapt this section to present other specialized skills relevant to your field.

  • Awards, detailing any honors, grants, scholarships, or general accolades.

  • Professional associations, listing any leadership positions, as well as chapter name and location.

  • Published papers, including the title, any co-authors, the name of the publication, and a brief summary. 

  • Additional sections based on your industry, such as Languages, Conferences & Presentations, Volunteering, and Professional Development.

Your comprehensive resume, while longer and more detailed, still needs to be easy to read, concise, and adaptable. You should use headings for each section, and keep the format consistent throughout the resume. 

Other important things to remember when crafting your comprehensive resume include:

  • Use a professional-looking font. Not Comic Sans or Lucida Handwriting. 

  • Use bullet points to keep the resume clean and uncluttered.

  • Don’t push your margins. Keep them at 0.5 to one inch.

  • Include ATS keywords. Even though your resume is specialized and detailed, it probably will still go through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

  • Proofread! Have a friend or colleague take a look at it to check for any typos you might have missed.

What does a comprehensive resume look like?

The main difference between a standard resume and a comprehensive resume goes beyond length. Think of it this way: a standard resume is “competency-based"—it is designed to show off your work experience, accomplishments, and skills in the best possible light. A comprehensive resume is more "credential-based," which is why it's used more in the areas of education, science, research, and medicine. It provides a detailed account of a person’s education, experience, professional affiliations, and career focus, as demonstrated in the following template:


Comprehensive resume template

Jane Smith Job Title Contact information

Professional summary. In this space provide several sentences describing your job history, unique qualifications, accomplishments, and goals.

Education Highest degree, field, name of institution Date  Areas of specialization Title of dissertation, if applicable

Next highest degree, field, name of institution Date Areas of specialization

Work Experience Job Title Company Dates of Employment

Job responsibilities, tasks, and quantifiable achievements

Certifications Name of certification, issuing organization, date

Publications Name of publication Title Author name(s) Date

Professional Associations  Association Name, Membership Status

Awards Name of Award, Institution

Technical Skills List technical proficiencies, or adapt this section for your field

Languages If you speak any other languages, list it here, along with your level of fluency

Remember, the whole point of any resume is to clearly show a potential employer why you’re the best person for the job. Only use a comprehensive resume if the job you’re vying for requires you to demonstrate your expertise via publications, presentations, and other credentials. If not, stick with a shorter, standard resume that only focuses on your most relevant skills and experience. 

Need help creating or polishing your resume? Check out our resume builder on Career.io.

Key takeaways

  1. A comprehensive resume is an in-depth record of your entire work history, skills, education, and any relevant publications, awards, or affiliations.

  2. Comprehensive resumes (sometimes called CVs) are generally used in academia, science, or medicine.

  3. Be sure to check the requirements of the job application—don’t send a comprehensive resume unless it’s required for the position.

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