How to Write an Effective Curriculum Vitae

Creating an effective curriculum vitae is key to landing a new job in academia. Follow this simple curriculum vitae template to craft the best CV in no time.

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How to Write an Effective Curriculum Vitae
How to Write an Effective Curriculum Vitae
How to Write an Effective Curriculum Vitae

How To Write an Effective Curriculum Vitae

The curriculum vitae, also known as a CV, is a lengthy document that covers all aspects of your experience and education in the United States and Canada. Many people often treat the CV as an alternative to a resume, but it is another document entirely. On a curriculum vitae template you need to pay close attention to its structure and what you put in it. With our handy CV template guide, you can construct the best CV for your next job search.

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What is a curriculum vitae?

The traditional CV is mainly used within academia to display your research prowess, educational background and other relevant professional experience. That doesn’t mean that the CV can’t be used in your industry, too. CVs are diverse documents that can show off all your most notable accomplishments throughout your career. This includes your research projects, certifications, degrees and more.

It differs from a resume in that it covers more academic jobs. Potential employers will still take a CV for other industries, but mainly for competitive senior positions. Additionally, CVs can extend past the usual one-page limit to as many as three pages long.


Basic CV structure

The CV contains multiple elements, all of which work together to convince a hiring manager to hire you for your dream job. If you’re having trouble, you can follow this CV structure to help you get started.

Header

The header should contain all your contact information at the very top, including your name, phone number and professional email address.

Personal statement

The personal statement of a CV has a similar function to a resume summary or resume objective. Essentially, a personal statement is a pitch of your entire career in just a few sentences. Make sure you cover the most relevant hard skills, work experience and research you’ve done in this section.

Skills

The skills section doesn’t need to take up too much space. Just a bullet point list with 8-10 skills will do. A good mix of hard skills and soft skills is your best option. Hard and technical skills are the skills needed to do your everyday tasks, such as being familiar with certain procedures or software. Soft skills display your work ethic and can include aspects such as creativity, time management, resourcefulness or conflict management.

Work experience

Be sure to list all your most relevant job titles and 3-5 main duties you completed every day under each title. You want to keep this section short and concise. By writing your work history in reverse-chronological order, your most recent role will be at the top. Recruiters can then track your work history back to see how you’ve grown throughout your career.

Education

The education section of a CV is perhaps the most important part. Like with your work experience, it should be listed in reverse-chronological order to display your most recent degree. Adding a master’s degree or even a doctorate at the top of the list can set you apart from other candidates. You also have more room to list your specific research projects, dissertations and other academic contributions here.

Awards, certifications and memberships

Awards and certifications can improve your chances of being selected for a job interview. They show that you have been recognized for your work, which in turn will make you seem like a more impressive candidate.

Memberships to specific academic organizations within your field of study are another plus. Specifically, memberships can show that you are already part of a larger community of researchers with similar studies and interests.

Other CV templates and tips

Following a CV format is just one step to building the perfect CV. Here are a few other tips to follow when using a curriculum vitae template.

Use a CV builder 

Job seekers will often spend hours scouring job boards for potential roles they qualify for. If you use a resume builder or other CV builder, then it can help save you time. These tools contain tons of free CV templates, CV examples and resume templates for many industries. This includes:

  • Academic CV templates
  • Creative CV templates
  • Modern CV templates
  • Professional CV templates

The best CV templates or resume templates to use will depend on your specific career goals, select the one that’s right for you.

Pay attention to small details 

The adage “Don’t sweat the small stuff” definitely doesn’t apply to job applications. Every tiny aspect of a CV will be scrutinized. The hiring manager wants to find the best overall candidate.

Even fonts and specific word choices matter. Fancy or curly fonts are not applicant tracking system ATS-friendly because the software will be unable to read them. Stick to simpler fonts, such as Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica.

As to word choice, pulling keywords from the job description is a surefire way to push your application through to a real hiring manager. The more keywords the ATS can detect, the better your chances are of being noticed.

Don’t forget the cover letter 

Oftentimes, the CV should be a one-page document. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for discussing your skills in-depth. That’s what the cover letter is for. It gives you the chance to explain why you believe your work experience makes you the best fit for a role.

You can use our Cover Letter Builder to find plenty of cover letter templates and examples that can help you get started.


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