How to Format Your Curriculum Vitae

A curriculum vitae is a complex document that can be many pages long. Here’s what you need to know to format and construct your own CV.

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Format Your Curriculum Vitae
  2. What is a curriculum vitae?
  3. When should I use a curriculum vitae?
  4. Common curriculum vitae format
Format your curriculum vitae
Format your curriculum vitae
Format your curriculum vitae

How to Format Your Curriculum Vitae

If a job is asking you to submit an academic CV or curriculum vitae, they’re looking for a wealth of information about you. This means it’s important that you know not only what information they’re looking for but also how to present that information most effectively to the hiring manager. Here’s everything you need to know about writing your curriculum vitae.

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What is a curriculum vitae?

In the United States and Canada, a curriculum vitae, Latin for “course of life,” is an academic document that can be extremely long and goes over all of your academic achievements and experiences in detail. It is a document that is only used in academia, most commonly if you’re applying for a position like a graduate school professor.

The most prominent difference between a CV and a resume is the length. Resumes are usually one-page documents, occasionally two-page documents, that give a brief overview of your past. A CV format may be much longer, with being two pages or longer being common practice. Those with lots of professional experience may even have an 8-10 page CV.

A CV is different from a cover letter. A cover letter is used during a traditional job search to give more insight into why you’re the perfect person for a specific job. Most job searches will require a cover letter, so use our ResumeHelp Cover Letter Builder to help guide your process.


When should I use a curriculum vitae?

You should only submit a curriculum vitae if you are applying for an academic job that specifically asks for one. It is not part of the normal job application and you should only include one if you need to discuss in detail your teaching experience, educational background and other important parts of your work history. If you are not applying for an academic position and you see the term “CV,” especially in the UK and European job markets, chances are the hiring manager is actually looking for a resume. Check out our ResumeHelp Resume Builder instead in these situations.

Common curriculum vitae format

To write an effective CV, you’ll want to use CV examples to create a curriculum vitae that includes all the necessary information while also discussing it in an effective way. Here’s one way you can structure your CV.

1. Contact information

It’s important to start with a header that includes your personal contact information. Include your full name, phone number and mailing address, as well as professional social media profiles, such as your LinkedIn profile. Avoid information like your marital status, date of birth or nationality, as these are not necessary and can even remove you from the applicant pool.

2. Personal statement (Research objective or personal profile)

On a CV, your personal statement is similar to a resume summary or resume objective. It should be around 100 words, which is about one paragraph, showcasing accomplishments from your work history. If you’re applying to a research position, you should highlight your research objective. If you’re applying to a general teaching position, include whatever information will show that you’re right for the job.

3. Education

Your education section is significant because it shows all the knowledge you’ve accumulated. Include all your post-secondary degrees in reverse-chronological order, including the type of degree, your major, your minors, your department and institution, any honors you received, and the title of your dissertation or thesis. If you have certain certifications that you had to study for, you may also include them here.

4. Professional appointments

Professional appointments are official teaching positions that a selection committee has previously appointed you to. This is part of your work experience but it’s only a small component. If you haven’t previously worked as a professor, you don’t need this section.

5. Publications

Have you written any articles, papers or books? Include them in this section. If you have peer-reviewed articles and non peer-reviewed articles, separate the two and put the peer-reviewed articles above the others. Structure this section like you would bibliography citations, choosing a specific format and sticking to it.

6. Awards, honors and other acknowledgments

Recruiters want to know that you’ve done a good job at other locations. If you’ve ever received awards or honors for your work, include them here.

7. Grants and other fellowships

Including grants can show that organizations see your research as important. List the date you received the grant and the organization that gave you the grant.

8. Conferences

Write your conferences section from most recent to oldest. Next to each conference, include how you participated, whether you were a lecturer, a participant or an attendee.

9. Teaching assistant experiences

Working as a TA can be invaluable, especially if you haven’t been a professor and are seeking your first teaching appointment. Job seekers with less experience should include all TA work in their history.

10. Academic research posts

Your existing research experience is important, especially for a research position. Here, include any previous research projects that you’ve been part of. If you’re well-experienced, you should only include positions where you had a job title like “Research Associate” or “Full-Time Researcher.” If you have less experience, include any research you’ve done.

11. Organizations and affiliations

If you have memberships or professional affiliations with organizations important in your field, include it here. Only include current memberships where you are in good standing with the organization.

12. Other activities

Finally, include any other activities the job description might request but don’t fit in the other categories. Specific coursework, for example, as well as retreats you’ve attended, programs you’ve gone through, and anything else you feel like is important to mention.


A better curriculum vitae for your academic pursuits

A CV is a living document, which means that you’re always going to be changing and updating it as you gain more experience. Although it serves a different function than the resume, you can find resume templates at ResumeHelp that can be a strong tool when you’re writing your CV, allowing you to present a more effective document for your next pursuit.

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