Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Curriculum Vitae, from Latin meaning “course of life”, is often referred to simply as a CV or vita. Like a résumé, it is a summary of your skills, experience, and education however, it contains more detail and is often longer than 2 pages. CVs are the required documents to apply for graduate school, scientific research, and academic positions.
Resume or CV - What is the Difference?
||Fellow academics in your field of study
||Employers who hire for a wide variety of positions
||Applying for a job in academic or medical fields
||Applying for a job in most non-academic sectors
||To display your academic credentials and accomplishments in great detail
||To demonstrate that you have the experience and skills necessary to succeed within the position you are seeking
|What employers see
||A big picture of you as a person and your scholarly potential
||A compelling introduction of your experiences and skills
||List of publications, presentations, teaching experiences, grants, etc.
||Experiences and skills as they relate to the job you are seeking
||As long as necessary
||1 page (2 pages max)
||Do not include
What is a CV Used For?
- Admission to graduate school
- Research and consulting positions in a variety of settings
- Fellowships or grants
- International jobs
- Teaching, research, and upper-level administrative positions in higher education
- Academic departmental and tenure reviews
- Professional association leadership positions
- Speaking engagements
- Publishing and editorial review boards
- School administration positions
- Independent consulting
The 4 Essential Elements of a Good CV:
The style of CV you adopt does not have to limit how you organize your experiences, or the information you choose to include. In fact, many students today are exercising their creativity and developing their own CV styles to differentiate themselves.
Regardless of the design or format you choose, there are a few key rules you will definitely want to follow:
- Tailor your CV to your audience (a specific position or program); information that you provide on your CV for one position or program may be different than information provided for another. In other words, do not mass produce your CV.
- To see if you have relevant and targeted document, give it to a friend and have them guess the type of position or program you are going to be applying to – they should have no trouble doing this.
- Identify and emphasize your relevant skills and experiences, but be selective - choose only those which highlight the qualifications of the position or program for which you are applying.
- Demonstrate your knowledge of the company, institution or program you are targeting, matching the language appropriately in your CV.
- Remember – Skills are developed from school, projects, volunteer, extra-curricular and work experiences.
- Highlight the accomplishments from your experiences, not just the duties or tasks you completed. The bullet points under your experiences should NOT consist of a list of duties (unless some of the specific duties are very relevant to the position or program you’re applying for).
- Use skill action verbs and accomplishment statements when describing what you did - proof of your actions and the results you achieved.
- be honest and accurate – you will be asked to validate your skills and accomplishments at an interview.
- bad spelling and grammar in a CV are near the top of the list for recruiters or progran admissions officials to reject (this might reflect the quality of your work and attention to details).
- errors in your CV can detract from an otherwise good CV and make you look lazy or careless.
- carefully read through your CV to check for errors and read it out loud.
- don’t rely on your computer’s grammar checker because it won’t find every error.
- proofread your CV later, or the next day to look at it from a fresh perspective.
- have someone else review your CV - two sets of eyes are better than one.
- Use standard fonts in an easy to read size; keep margins in a normal range.
- Have a consistent format for headings and subheadings.
- Identify pages with your name, contact information and page numbers at the top or bottom of the page.
- Make points not paragraphs, and use phrases instead of full sentences.
- Consider what is most important to your auctience and order information accordingly.
- Present a consistent theme which is communicated throughout the application process (cover letter, resume and interview).
Headings Often Included on a CV
- Contact Information
- Academic Background/Education
- Postgraduate work: thesis/dissertation titles, honours,
- Graduate work: major/minors, thesis/dissertation titles, honours
- Undergraduate degree(s): major/minors, thesis titles, honours
- Articles, books (or chapters in books), pamphlets etc.
- Academic/Teaching Experience
- list names of courses taught, courses introduced, innovations in teaching, and teaching evaluations - include institution and dates, and brief course descriptions
- titles of professional presentations, name of conferences, dates and locations, and if appropriate in your discipline, also a brief description of the event
- Related/Other Experience
- Technical and Specialized Skills
- Professional Licenses/Certifications
- Professional/Academic Honours and Awards
- Professional Development
- name of grant, name of granting agency, date received, and title or purpose of research project
- Volunteer Experience
- Academic, professional and community
- Academic/Research Interests
- memberships in national, regional, or local professional organizations, and significant appointments to positions or committees in these associations - student memberships in professional associations are appropriate
- Foreign Language Abilities/Skills
Things to Remember When Writing a CV
- Lead with your strengths - the layout needs to be clear and logical, placing the most important items at the beginning. Keep your audience in mind.
- Include information which is relevant to the position to which you are applying.
- List all information in reverse chronological order, from most recent to least recent.
- Make it organized and attractive. Label categories clearly. Style matters!
- Examine copies of several vitae from individuals at your stage of professional development (or slightly ahead).
- Keep the structure of your phrases and/or sentences consistent throughout your document (parallelism).
- Ask your faculty advisor, colleagues, family and friends to review and critique your CV before sending it.
- Update your CV frequently.
- Specific countries may prefer certain formats and may require additional information.
- A cover letter should accompany your CV.
- There is no one standard format; different disciplines have different emphases. Your CV needs to reflect/ emphasize the values of your discipline and adhere to the conventions within it.
Keep in mind that the 'perfect' CV is a myth; there is no one ‘right’ way to do either a CV or a resume. Make sure your CV represents YOU!
Western Student CV Examples
The CV's included below represent actual documents of real students who have been offered an interview or admission to a graduate program.