CV Formats: Curriculum Vitae Examples & Tips for Success

How do you format a curriculum vitae (CV) and how do you use it in your job search? Get all the answers here, along with plenty of tips, CV formats and examples.

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By Ho Lin 4 minute read

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Why use CV formats and format examples?

When writing your CV, it’s important that you know not only what information your potential employer is 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 and using the correct CV formats. We’ll be including looking at the style of the company you’re interested in, its website, and exploring related field examples to find a custom format. In the article below, we’ll go over what a CV format really means and how to improve your document.

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What is a CV?

CV stands for curriculum vitae and is Latin for “course of life.” In the United States and Canada, this usually means an academic CV. An academic CV features a detailed overview of your teaching experience, educational background and other important parts of your work history.

If you are not applying for an academic position and 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 the ResumeHelp Resume Builder for these situations.

In many other countries, including most of Europe, Canada, Australia and Africa, a “CV” is referred to like an American resume and is requested for every position. Most CV formats will recommend a two-page document that goes over your experience and skills, and depending on the region you may be required to supply more information.

For example, formatting a UK CV may include listing your date and place of birth, gender, marital status, ID number, driving license information and even health details. A credible references section may also be requested so that your potential employer can check how you performed in your previous position.

Curriculum Vitae vs Resume

A curriculum vitae is a document that not only provides the same information as a resume but
expands upon it to offer a complete overview of your employment and academic history. Because of this, one of the main differences between a CV and a resume is the length. A resume will generally be one page long or perhaps two, for someone with a long work history. A CV will be two pages minimum and can be longer depending on industry and level of experience.

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Curriculum Vitae Layout: Formatting Tips

As CVs are much more expansive and refer to extensive or even complete summaries of a person’s career, qualifications and education there is no set formatting structure but you can use these tips and CV formats examples to improve your document and highlight unique qualifications:

  • Use a professional font
  • Draft a solid, employer-friendly template
  • Monitor your white space and make sure page breaks aren’t awkward (as you’ll be dealing with a longer document)
  • Get your spacing correct. Use decent spacing between sections, business letter style margins (at least 1”) and spacing between lines (at least 1-1.15)
  • Use short phrases and bullet points — a CV dense with text will turn off recruiters as it could be harder to read through.
  • Feature section headings in a clear, readable text that is consistent with the rest of your document.

The structure of a CV

CV or resume templates will help provide you with a strong appearance for your CV but you’ll need some insight into the structure of CV formats to write it more effectively. Here’s a rundown of the sections that should appear in a CV.

Contact Information:

Clear and correct contact information is needed from every applicant including your full name and phone number. You can also add your social media links, such as your LinkedIn profile.

Objective Statement:

In your resume objective statement, give an overview of your top career highlights relevant to the position. Describe your professional or academic specializations, key skills or relevant attributes and key achievements to show why you’re the ideal candidate.

Summary of Qualifications:

This section should be focused on what you can offer to a potential employer by highlighting what makes you unique. You can also highlight your affiliations with any professional bodies or groups. Think of these as lengthier descriptions of the most important attributes that would otherwise belong on your skills list.

Core Qualifications/Key Skills:

These sections should include technical or special skills that match up with the requirements of the job description.

Education:

The education section should be presented in reverse-chronological order with your high school listed last and with the least detail — you do not need to include your GPA.

Work Experience:

The work experience section should be presented in reverse-chronological order, just as with a professional resume, and highlight your main achievements and professional skills. Remember to include quantifiable metrics to demonstrate precisely what you contributed to past employers.

Awards:

Academic and professional achievements you have received.

Certifications:

Credentials earned via training online, night classes, etc.

Publications:

List research papers, articles or other published writing related to your work.

Grants and Fellowships:

Here you’d list financial grants or admittance into fellowships. This shows potential employers that you’ve proven yourself to influential people in your field.

Conferences:

Shows your commitment to taking a more holistic interest in your industry through networking, learning from peers and more.

Affiliations:

Highlight which major, industry-relevant associations you’re a part of or have worked with directly.

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Modify your CV in minutes

Although CVs are different from resumes and include more sections, using CV formats to create a CV that will pass applicant tracking systems (ATS) and impress hiring managers using our ResumeHelp Resume Builder is easy!

Follow these simple steps to build your CV:

  • Click one of the “Create my CV” buttons above. On the new page that appears, select “Create a new resume” to begin the process. Then select “Let’s get started” on the next page.
  • Follow the steps on the page and fill in the blanks.
  • First, choose one of our resume templates, then select if you want to create a new CV or upload an existing document.
  • The builder will automatically guide you through creating the summary, and adding your work history, skills and education.
  • After writing your summary, you’ll be able to add extra sections and begin customizing your document. Click the box on the top right to use the add sections feature and select “other’ from the drop-down menu so you can title and fill in your own custom skills or certifications.
  • When you reach the end of the builder, you’ll see your CV to move your new section or any of the preselected builder sections. Hover over the left side of the column you are trying to adjust and select the arrow icon pictured below.
  • If you need to edit the standard or your custom sections, select the three dots on the right and the editing drop-down will appear. This way, you can organize the layout of your CV accordingly.
  • If you would like to change the headers of any of your CV sections, simply hover over where it says “Summary,” “Education,” etc., until the Rename button appears. Then put your new title in the space provided and click enter.
  • You can change the formatting of your document on the menu at the bottom of the page. After clicking the arrow next to “Normal,” press the “Custom” button. A new menu will appear, where you can adjust the margins, font size, font style and spacing. If you want to change the color, a menu with different options will appear when you click the “Color” tab.
  • Be sure to click “Spell Check” at the top left to ensure no grammatical errors.
  • Once you’re satisfied with your CV, you can click “Download” and save the document on your computer. If you don’t want to download it just yet, press “Save and Next” so your work isn’t lost.

FAQ: CV formats

Have questions? We’re here to help.

A CV, or curriculum vitae, is formatted for both the position being applied to and the individual’s background so, unlike with a resume, there aren’t set formatting rules. You should, however, still curate your document to be ATS-compliant and readable as the purpose of a CV is to provide a comprehensive overview of your academic and employment history.

No matter the type of job, your CV should still have an easy-to-read sans serif font, accurate contact information, an eye-catching section heading and your most relevant details mentioned on the first page of your document.

The purpose of a CV is to provide a comprehensive overview of your academic and employment history so the best format for your CV is one that is clear and easy to read. Your document should be designed to give hiring managers the whole picture in a “top-down” approach with relevant sections highlighted accordingly.

To make things easier, consider looking at CV examples from the industries you’re interested in or using the ResumeHelp template options and the Cover Letter Builder, to ensure that the format is right for applicant tracking systems (ATS) and their scanning process.

The CVs in the U.S. are mostly requested for academic works so the formatting would revolve around highlighting things like your publications, research projects, field experiences, or relevant apprenticeships and teaching assistant programs.

The objective section of your CV, sometimes called your personal statement, profile or professional summary, is a two to three-sentence paragraph that showcases the skills you have that can help the company to which you are applying. It should also explain why this particular position would be a good fit for your career path. Check out Resumehelp’s guide for great resume summary examples and advice on how to craft your own.

CVs provide a comprehensive overview of your academic and employment history which can be formatted based on the individual’s level of experience and involvement in their field. A resume, on the other hand, should be formatted for experiences that directly relate to the job to which you are applying.

Depending on your level of experience your document can be formatted to fit these types: Chronological, for senior-level professionals; Combination, for those with transferable skills; Functional, for those fresh out of school or who have changed directions on their career journey.

These three formats are best suited for resumes as they put the information that’s most relevant to the employer at the top, whereas a CV is based around an individual’s career highlights and experiences. While both documents can help you show an employer that you’re qualified for a role, the CV is designed to give hiring managers the whole picture of your career trajectory rather than just the information that pertains most directly to the job application. For those targeting positions in the United States, for more information, don’t miss our page on the American Resume Format.

Just like a resume, a good curriculum vitae is clear, concise and lets an employer know that you’re qualified for the position. Writing a curriculum vitae, or CV, requires research, knowledge of the skills the employer is seeking and curation of your most relevant experiences.

Depending on your role, there are many different designs and CV formats that could best fit your industry but most CVs revolve around the following core sections: Your contact information, a persuasive personal statement, in-depth educational history and documentation of all of your significant career experiences, including volunteer work, apprenticeships, publications and relevant hobbies or interests.

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WRITTEN BY Ho Lin

Ho Lin is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and editor with two decades of experience in content strategy, creation, and development. He holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University and his background includes experience aiding military veterans as they transition to civilian careers.

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