Curriculum vitae is a Latin expression which can be loosely translated as [the] course of [my] life. In current usage, curriculum is less marked as a foreign loanword.
The plural of curriculum vitae, in Latin, is formed following Latin rules of grammar as curricula vitae (meaning "courses of life") — not curriculum vita (which is grammatically incorrect) and not curricula vitarum. The form vitae is the singular genitive of vita and is translated as "of life".
Nevertheless, in English, the plural of the full expression curriculum vitae is seldom used; the plural of curriculum on its own is usually written as "curricula", rather than the traditional curriculums.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, a CV is short (usually a maximum of 2 sides of A4 paper), and therefore contains only a summary of the job seeker's employment history, qualifications and some personal information. It is often updated to change the emphasis of the information according to the particular position for which the job seeker is applying. Many CVs contain keywords that potential employers might pick up on and display the content in the most flattering manner, brushing over information like poor grades. A CV can also be extended to include an extra page for the job-seeker's publications if these are important for the job.
In the United States and Canada, a CV is used in academic circles and medical careers as a "replacement" for a résumé and is far more comprehensive; the term résumé is used for most recruitment campaigns. A CV elaborates on education to a greater degree than a résumé and is expected to include a comprehensive listing of professional history including every term of employment, academic credential, publication, contribution or significant achievement. In certain professions, it may even include samples of the person's work and may run to many pages. Many executives and professionals choose to use short CVs that highlight the focus of their lives and not necessarily their employment or education.
The European Union developed a standardised CV format known as Europass, based on a Decision (adopted in 2004 by the European Parliament and European Commission) and promoted by the EU to ease skilled migration between member countries. To date (July 2012), more than 20 million CV have been completed online.
The Europass CV system is meant to be just as helpful to employers and education providers as it is to students and job seekers. It was designed to help them understand what people moving between countries have to offer, while overcoming linguistic barriers.
Some companies produce their own application form which must be completed in applying for any position. Of those, some prefer not to receive a CV at all, but some also allow applicants to attach a CV in support of the application. These companies prefer to process applications this way so they can standardize the information they receive, since CVs are written in many different styles. A CV on its own, therefore, may not give a company all the information it needs at the application stage.