How to Write a CV (Curriculum Vitae)

How to Write a CV (Curriculum Vitae)

By Bethanny Parker

Published on September 13, 2021

Share on Social


You've probably written a resume before, but do you know how to write a curriculum vitae (CV)? A CV is similar to a resume. Both perform the same job: convince an employer that you're the best person for the position.

However, a curriculum vitae is a complete picture of your educational accomplishments, focusing on research, teaching, and awards. A resume, on the other hand, offers a snapshot of your skills and qualifications for a particular job.

What Is the Purpose of a CV?

A curriculum vitae contains your educational history, a list of research you've conducted, and any articles you've published in journals. It also includes a list of awards and honors you've received.

The CV is used mainly in academia. Graduate school applicants often need to submit a CV, as do candidates for grants, fellowships, and postdoctoral positions. Candidates for teaching jobs in postsecondary schools often need a CV as well.

An effective CV presents a clear picture of the type of research you do and your ability to secure funding for that research. Your list of publications demonstrates your professional contributions to your field.

What Should You Include in a CV?

A CV should include most of the sections listed below. If you don't have something to put in a section, don't worry about it — just leave that section off your CV.

Contact Information

Start your CV with your name, address, phone number, and email address. You want to make sure the person reading your CV knows how to get in touch with you.

Education

List the colleges and universities you've attended. Include the dates attended, your degree, your GPA, and the title of your thesis or dissertation.

Experience and Achievements

Add a list of your work experience along with employer names, job titles, and dates of employment. Be sure to include the city and state for each employer, as well as a description of your accomplishments and responsibilities.

Qualifications and Skills

List the skills that make you the ideal candidate for this job. Think about what the job entails and what qualifications are required. Add any that apply.

Awards and Honors

For each award or honor you've received, include the name of the award and the year you received it.

Publications and Presentations

For each publication, list the authors with your own name bolded, the year of publication, the article title, and the name of the publication.

Grants and Other Types of Funding

For each item, list the year awarded and the name of the fellowship, grant, or other source of funding.

Professional Affiliations and Memberships

List the names of any professional associations you belong to, along with your affiliation. For example, "Member of American Academy of Dermatology."

Professional Licenses and Certifications

List the name of each license or certification, the year earned, and the name of the organization that issued the certification.

6 Essential Tips for Writing a CV

Here are six tips to help you learn how to write a CV to help you get into grad school, secure a fellowship or grant, or apply for a teaching position.

1. Use Bullet Points When Applicable

Bullet points make your CV easier to read. If you're completing a section of your CV and notice that each item is less than a full line, that's a perfect place to add bullet points. The formatting looks nicer and helps the reader follow along. You can add bullet points to your qualifications and skills, awards and honors, grants, and professional affiliations.

2. Check the Format

Many organizations use application tracking systems to identify the CVs that most closely match what they're looking for, so try to avoid strange formatting that might interfere with these systems.

Keep the look of your CV simple, with 1-inch margins on every side. Use single spacing for most items, but be sure to add a blank line between schools and/or jobs. You should also use a standard serif font at a reasonable size, such as Times New Roman at size 12 points.

3. Tailor Your CV for Each Position

You can't change where you went to college or what your major was, but you can tweak your CV in small ways to tailor it to the position you're applying for. For example, you can write the job responsibilities section of each job to focus on the part of the job that is applicable.

4. Don't Worry Too Much About Length

While it's best to keep your CV concise, CVs tend to run longer than resumes. A resume usually shouldn't run more than a page, but it's not uncommon for a CV to be 2-3 pages long. In the end, your CV should be as long as it takes to list all your accomplishments without being padded with unnecessary information.

5. Use Both Reverse Chronological and Functional Formatting

For the work experience and education sections, list schools and employers in reverse chronological order (i.e., from most recent to oldest). This is the order most employers expect to see. For other sections, however, you can use functional formatting, which means placing the most relevant items highest in the list. Functional formatting works well for journal publications and professional associations.

6. Always Check for Additional Requirements

Check the job listing to see if it includes any additional requirements beyond the typical CV sections. For example, some positions may require references, research interests, or a professional summary. Even if not requested, including a professional summary can provide an opportunity to customize your CV to the job you're applying for.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) Template

CV Template

Alex Garcia

123 Maple St., Grand Rapids, MI
(231) 555-1212
alex.garcia@gmail.com

Education

Master of Science in Psychology | 2012
Capella University

Bachelor of Science in Psychology | 2008
Central Michigan University

Experience and Achievements

Adjunct Professor of Psychology | 2016-2021
Aquinas College | Grand Rapids, MI

  • Taught introductory and upper-level courses in psychology, human growth and development, and behavioral psychology.
  • Developed curriculum in line with the requirements of the institution.
  • Planned homework assignments and wrote and graded midterm and final examinations.

Admissions Counselor | 2012-2016
Central Michigan University | Mount Pleasant, MI

  • Reviewed candidates' applications for college admission.
  • Followed up with students to verify information.
  • Created profiles and worked with other admissions counselors to make final decisions.

Qualifications and Skills

  • Course design
  • Instructional technology (PowerPoint, Blackboard, Canvas)
  • Career and academic advising

Awards and Honors

  • Excellence in Teaching, Adjunct Award | Society for the Teaching of Psychology (2020)
  • Jane S. Halonen Teaching Excellence Award | Society for the Teaching of Psychology (2017)

Publications and Presentations

  • Garcia, Alex. September 2019. "Mental Health Stigma Among Professional Psychologists." Psychological Review.
  • Garcia, Alex. March 2017. "The Effects of Meditation on Attention Span in Patients with ADHD." Psychological Bulletin.

Grants and Other Types of Funding

  • William S. Parker Psychologist Awards (2019)
  • Best Student Research Competition (2011)

Professional Affiliations and Memberships

  • Member of American Psychological Association
  • Member of Association for Psychological Science
  • Member of Society for Personality and Social Psychology

Professional Licenses and Certifications

  • Clinical Psychology certification (2016) | American Board of Professional Psychology
  • State of Michigan psychologist license (2012) | State of Michigan

Frequently Asked Questions About CVs

How long should a CV be? true

CVs tend to be longer than resumes. Instead of one page, CVs often run 2-3 pages in length. You should try to keep your CV concise by not including superfluous information; however, make sure to include everything that's relevant. See our CV sample for an example of how long a CV should be.

Should I include references on a CV? true

In most cases, references should not be included on a CV. However, if the job you're applying for asks for references to be included, then include them. Otherwise, put your references on a separate reference sheet and provide it to the employer only if they ask for it. This section was omitted from our CV template because it is not typically needed.

Should I use a CV or resume? true

If you're not sure whether to use a CV or resume and the job you're applying for is not in academia, use a resume. For postsecondary teaching jobs, or to apply for a fellowship or grant, you'll probably need a CV. Graduate school applicants usually need a CV as well. Check out our curriculum vitae template to see how to structure your CV.

Feature Image: FreshSplash / E+ / Getty Images

Learn how to leverage internship experience on your resume so you can stand out from the crowd. Strong, concise cover letters get you interviews. For college students, cover letters help showcase experiences and skills that don't appear on a resume. Find out how to write a cover letter for an internship. Learn what to include and how to format your cover letter so that it stands out from the competition.