What if I Need a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

A curriculum vitae (CV), Latin for “course of life,” is the same as a résumé in countries outside of North America; however, it is different than a résumé in the United States and Canada. What’s the difference between a CV and résumé? Here’s a summary:

Comparison of Curriculum Vitae and Résumé

Curriculum Vitae

  • Used for medical, academic, or research positions

  • No length limit (can be 2-3 pages or more)

  • Detailed information about all education and career accomplishments

  • Organized in categories    


  • Used for most non-academic positions

  • Usually 1-2 pages

  • Only information about skills and work experience relevant to the target job posting

  • Usually organized chronologically

Sections of a Curriculum Vitae

  1. (opt.) Photo in upper right corner, if required

  2. Personal Contact Information

  3. Educational Background

  4. Professional Certifications/Licenses

  5. Academic Teaching Experience

  6. Research Experience/Lab Experience/ Graduate Fieldwork

  7. Professional Development/Conferences

  8. Publications: Books, Book Chapters, Peer-Reviewed Articles, other writing

  9. Grants and Fellowships

  10. Professional Organization Memberships 

  11. Professional Service Awards

  12. Languages and Special Skills

  13. References (always include these)

Sections of a Résumé

  1. No photo

  2. Personal Contact Information

  3. Qualifications Summary  

  4. Education (opt. Relevant Courses)

  5. Work Experience

  6. Additional Sections (Awards, Publications, Certifications, Volunteer Service)

Formatting a Curriculum Vitae

Standard CV fonts: Arial, Calibri, or Helvetica (sans-serif fonts) or Times New Roman, Garamond, or Georgia (serif fonts). Use size 10-12, depending on available space.

Margins: 1” margins are preferable. Smaller margins make the content look crowded.

Organization: Use bulleted lists, section headers, and bolded words to ensure the document is easy to read. 

Document type: Create the CV in a Microsoft Word document rather than a template, and save it as a PDF, if not prohibited, for secure transfer.

Writing an Effective Curriculum Vitae

Start with a strong skill summary. The average time a recruiter takes to initially scan a CV is six seconds. Be sure your opening section showcases a summary of your key skills and accomplishments to catch the recruiter’s attention for that specific position. 

Customize for each job posting. Your summary should focus on what the employer is looking for, so carefully study the characteristics of each institution and the requirements of the specific job you are applying for. Take the time to revise your CV for each job application.

Use action verbs and quantifiers in describing your accomplishments. The statements of your accomplishments should begin with action verbs and include numbers and percentages, when possible: “Surpassed university average by 35% for rate of student retention in my courses through creative instruction and consistent efforts to promote individual student success.”

Show examples of personal growth and contributions to the profession. Explain your efforts to increase understanding of the profession through reading, professional development, publishing articles, and having knowledge of the current events and trends.

Give evidence of networking with colleagues. Employers are looking for professionals who have strong communication skills and who work well with colleagues, as well as those they serve. Showing that you have active network connections, such as LinkedIn contacts and meaningful posts, displays an important commitment to staying connected.

The Time Invested in Creating a Top-Quality CV Will Be Rewarded

CVs are challenging to create. They are marketing tools: they market you and your future contributions to the target organization. So make a thorough search of your professional history, and then promote it in a clear and engaging manner in your CV. If you do, it will open the door to the career you’ve always wanted! 

Sources: Frierson, W. (2015). Make your CV work for you. https://www.collegerecruiter.com/blog/2015/06/24/make-your-cv-work-for-you/

Bradley, S. A. (2016, October 18). 7 simple but effective ways to make your cv stand out [Blog]. https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/7-simple-effective-ways-make-your-cv-stand-out

Revised 18 August 2020



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