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A well written curriculum vitae

How to Write a Curriculum Vitae (CV) (With Examples)

Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts and has counseled both students and corporations on hiring practices. She has given hundreds of interviews on the topic for outlets including The New York Times, BBC News, and LinkedIn. Alison founded CareerToolBelt.com and has been an expert in the field for more than 20 years.

If your career path includes work in academic, scientific research, or medical fields in the United States, chances are good that you’ll be asked to provide a curriculum vitae rather than a typical resume. In Latin, the phrase “curriculum vitae” means “course of life.” Which is quite appropriate if, as an entry-level candidate, you feel like you’ve spent your entire life in graduate school or medical school.

What is a CV?

In modern English, the concept behind the curriculum vitae might better be translated as “the course of one’s professional education and career.” In short, institutions that request these documents are most interested in one’s well-rounded credentials for the job (as expressed through training and subsequent career experience). This differs from standard resumes, which focus more on competencies.

Here’s information on why, when, and how to use a CV, when to use a resume vs. a curriculum vitae, CV writing, and formatting guidelines, the differences between U.S. and international CVs, and examples.

When to Use a Curriculum Vitae

When should job seekers use a curriculum vitae, commonly referred to as a “CV,” rather than a resume? In the United States, a curriculum vitae is used primarily when applying for academic, education, scientific, medical, or research positions. It is also applicable when applying for fellowships or grants.  

When seeking a job in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, or Asia, expect to submit a CV rather than a resume.

Keep in mind that overseas employers often expect to read the type of personal information on a curriculum vitae that would never be included on an American resume, such as date of birth, nationality, marital status, and place of birth.

United States law governing what information job applicants can be asked to provide does not apply outside the country.

What to Include in a CV

There are several differences between a curriculum vitae and a resume. A curriculum vitae is a longer (two or more pages), more detailed synopsis of your background and skills. As with a resume, you may need different versions of a CV for different types of positions.

Like a resume, a curriculum vitae should include:

  • Your name
  • Contact information
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Experience

In addition to these basics, a CV also includes:  

  • Research and teaching experience
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Grants
  • Fellowships
  • Professional associations and licenses
  • Awards and honors

Also list any other information relevant to the position you are applying for. You may also include a personal statement to make your CV stand out.

Start writing your CV by making a list of all your background information, then organize it into categories. Make sure you include dates on all the publications and experience you list.

Depending on the country, you may also need to provide the following in an international CV:

  • Nationality
  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Number of children (ages optional)
  • Personal interests like hobbies
  • All education including high school / secondary school
  • Photos are also recommended (a professional headshot is best)

Date of Birth on CVs

Some countries outside the United States expect you to include your date of birth on your CV. If you are applying to a foreign job, research the particular country’s protocol for job applications.

If you are using a curriculum vitae (CV) or resume to apply for a job in the United States, due to current laws regarding age discrimination, you may not be required to include your date of birth on your curriculum vitae.

Customize Your Curriculum Vitae

Once you have made a list of the information you want to include, it’s a good idea to create a custom curriculum vitae that specifically highlights the experience you have that is relevant to the job you are applying for. It takes more time to write a custom CV, but it’s worth the effort—especially when you are applying for jobs that are a good match for your skills and experience.

  • Use accomplishment-oriented bullets that start with an action verb and include a result.
  • Start with a Professional Profile (also called a Summary) that highlights the best of what you as a candidate are offering.
  • Edit content to include those areas of expertise, skills, and knowledge that specifically match the job requirements; not all the details of your education and employment history (work, research, fellowships, etc.) may be relevant.
  • Carefully rank and organize the sections of your CV according to what the institution you are applying for is seeking. For example, if you are applying to a university where research is emphasized, you should begin your list of publications on page one, right after your initial professional profile. If, on the other hand, you know that teaching is valued over the publication by the department, you’ll want to give your professional career history pride of place on the first page.

Curriculum Vitae Sample

This is an example of a curriculum vitae. Download the curriculum vitae template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Curriculum Vitae Sample (Text Version)

Dorothy Doctor, M.D.
3204 Windover Way
Houston, TX 77204
[email protected]
000.123.4567

Dedicated and patient-focused M.D. positioned to excel within residency providing an opportunity to grow in knowledge and therapeutic practice of pediatric medicine.

EDUCATION

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), May 2018 – David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA

B.S. in Biology, summa cum laude, June 2014 – Stanford University

HONORS / AWARDS

David Geffen Medical Scholarship, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Stanford Department of Biology Award, 2013
Stanford Dean’s List, 2010-2014

EXAMINATIONS

USMLE Step 1, May 2016
USMLE Step 2 CK, May 2018

WORK EXPERIENCE

UCLA, Department of Oncology
Research Assistant (2015-2016)

  • Assisted Joe Johnson, M.D. and Sue Sanderson, Ph.D. in research and submission of “Novel Immunotherapy Approach to Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS).”

STANFORD UNIVERSITY
Resident Assistant (2013-2014)

  • Provided leadership, companionship, and emotional support to undergraduate residents of a university dormitory.

VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE

American Medical Student Association, UCLA (September 2013 – June 2018)

  • President, local chapter, May 2014 – June 2018
  • Coordinated well-attended Wellness on Campus Fair, September 2017

Volunteer, Venice Family Clinic (September 2014 to June 2017)

  • Helped to support the needs of underserved families at the free medical clinic.

Hospital Volunteer, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center (September 2014 – June 2015)

  • Volunteered in pediatric, ER, and surgery rotation positions

Volunteer, UCLA People-Animal Connection Program (September 2013 – June 2014)

  • Provided companionship to critically ill children in the animal-assisted therapy program.

LANGUAGES

English (native)
Spanish (advanced oral and written fluency)

MEMBERSHIPS / AFFILIATIONS

American Medical Student Association, 2014 – present
American Medical Association, 2017 – present

PERSONAL INTERESTS

CrossFit, surfing, photography, and oboe performance.

Review More CV Examples and Writing Tips

These sample CVs form a helpful guide of what to include in your CV, tips for writing it, and how to format it.

How to write a CV

A CV, which stands for curriculum vitae, is a document used when applying for jobs. It allows you to summarise your education, skills and experience enabling you to successfully sell your abilities to potential employers. Alongside your CV employers also usually ask for a cover letter.

In the USA and Canada CVs are known as résumés. These documents tend to be more concise and follow no particular formatting rules.

How long should a CV be?

A standard CV in the UK should be no longer than two sides of A4. Take a look at our example of a chronological CV for inspiration.

That said one size doesn’t fit all. For example, a school leaver or recent graduate with minimal experience may only need to use one side of A4. Although not used as often, a three-page CV might be needed for those in high-level roles or for people who have gained a lot of experience or worked in multiple jobs over the last five to ten years. For example, some medical or academic CVs may be longer depending on your experience. While it’s important to keep your CV concise you should also avoid selling your experience short.

To save space only include the main points of your education and experience. Stick to relevant information and don’t repeat what you’ve said in your cover letter. If you’re struggling to edit your CV ask yourself if certain information sells you. If it doesn’t cut it out. If it’s not relevant to the job you’re applying for delete it and if it’s old detail from ten years ago summarise it.

What to include in a CV

  • Contact details – Include your full name, home address, mobile number and email address. Your date of birth is irrelevant and unless you’re applying for an acting or modelling job you don’t need to include a photograph.
  • Profile – A CV profile is a concise statement that highlights your key attributes and helps you stand out from the crowd. Usually placed at the beginning of a CV it picks out a few relevant achievements and skills, while expressing your career aims. A good CV profile focuses on the sector you’re applying to, as your cover letter will be job-specific. Keep CV personal statements short and snappy – 100 words is the perfect length. Discover how to write a personal statement for your CV.
  • Education – List and date all previous education, including professional qualifications. Place the most recent first. Include qualification type/grades, and the dates. Mention specific modules only where relevant.
  • Work experience – List your work experience in reverse date order, making sure that anything you mention is relevant to the job you’re applying for. Include your job title, the name of the company, how long you were with the organisation and key responsibilities. If you have plenty of relevant work experience, this section should come before education.
  • Skills and achievements – This is where you talk about the foreign languages you speak and the IT packages you can competently use. The key skills that you list should be relevant to the job. Don’t exaggerate your abilities, as you’ll need to back up your claims at interview. If you’ve got lots of job-specific skills you should do a skills-based CV.
  • Interests – ‘Socialising’, ‘going to the cinema’ and ‘reading’ aren’t going to catch a recruiters attention. However, relevant interests can provide a more complete picture of who you are, as well as giving you something to talk about at interview. Examples include writing your own blog or community newsletters if you want to be a journalist, being part of a drama group if you’re looking to get into sales and your involvement in climate change activism if you’d like an environmental job. If you don’t have any relevant hobbies or interests leave this section out.
  • References – You don’t need to provide the names of referees at this stage. You can say ‘references available upon request’ but most employers would assume this to be the case so if you’re stuck for space you can leave this out.

For more help and advice on how to write a CV and to find CV templates, see example CVs.

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CV format

  • Avoid titling the document ‘curriculum vitae’ or ‘CV‘. It’s a waste of space. Instead let your name serve as the title.
  • Section headings are a good way to break up your CV. Ensure they stand out by making them larger (font size 14 or 16) and bold.
  • Avoid fonts such as Comic Sans. Choose something professional, clear and easy to read such Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman. Use a font size between 10 and 12 to make sure that potential employers can read your CV. Ensure all fonts and font sizes are consistent throughout.
  • List everything in reverse chronological order. Then the recruiter sees your work history and most recent achievements first.
  • Keep it concise by using clear spacing and bullet points. This type of CV layout allows potential employers to skim your CV and quickly pick out important information first.
  • Name the document when saving – Don’t just save as ‘Document 1’. Make sure the title of the document is professional and identifies you, such as ‘Joe-Smith-CV’.
  • Unless the job advert states differently (for example, it may ask you to provide your CV and cover letter as a Word document) save with a .PDF file extension to make sure it can be opened and read on any machine.
  • If you’re posting your CV, print it on white A4 paper – Only print on one side and don’t fold your CV – you don’t want it to arrive creased.

How to write a good CV

  • Use active verbs when possible. For example, include words like ‘created’, ‘analysed’ and ‘devised’ to present yourself as a person who shows initiative.
  • A good CV doesn’t have any spelling or grammar mistakes. Use a spell checker and enlist a second pair of eyes to check over the document.
  • Avoid generic, over-used phrases such as ‘team player’, ‘hardworking’ and ‘multitasker’. Instead, provide real-life examples that demonstrate all of these skills.
  • Tailor your CV. Look at the company’s website and social media accounts, look to see if they’ve recently been mentioned in the local press and use the job advert to make sure your CV is targeted to the role and employer.
  • Create the right type of CV for your circumstances. Decide whether the chronological, skills-based or academic CV is right for you.
  • Make sure your email address sounds professional. If your personal address is inappropriate create a new account for professional use.
  • Don’t lie or exaggerate on your CV or job application. Not only will you demonstrate your dishonesty to a potential employer, but there can be serious consequences too. For example, altering your degree grade from a 2:2 to a 2:1 is classed as degree fraud and can result in a prison sentence. Take a look at this advice and guidance on degree fraud for students.
  • If posting your CV online don’t include your home address, as you could be targeted by fraudsters.
  • Always include a cover letter unless the employer states otherwise. It will enable you to personalise your application. You can draw attention to a particular part of your CV, disclose a disability or clarify gaps in your work history.

How to fill the gap left by the COVID-19 pandemic

The first thing to know is that COVID-19 has disrupted the career plans of thousands of students and you’re not alone. As a result of the pandemic career-boosting activities such as work experience, internships and volunteering have been postponed or cancelled. If this has left you worrying about the corona-shaped gap on your CV let us put your mind at rest.

Employers understand the challenges caused by lockdowns only too well and they won’t expect you to have completed a period of work experience in this time. That said you could still demonstrate to potential employers how you used this time wisely – showing yourself to be a proactive, dedicated and resilient candidate.

You could mention:

  • details of online courses or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) you’ve undertaken or webinars or online events you’ve attended
  • the acquisition of new skills, such as learning a language or learning to code
  • volunteering work such as checking in on and shopping for vulnerable neighbours or caring for young siblings or elderly relatives
  • charity work – perhaps you got involved with fundraising or raising awareness of a particular ogranisation.
  • new hobbies such as starting to vlog, picking up a sport, learning to cook or setting up a community book club.

Remember – you’ll need to relate these to the job you’re applying for so focus on the skills these activities taught you and how/why they’d be useful.

Where to put this information depends on the activities. Volunteering or charity work can be included under the ‘Work experience’ heading. The online courses and additional qualifications you’ve gained can go in the ‘Education’ section while any new skills you’ve learned need to be housed under ‘Skills and achievements’. If any new hobbies are relevant to the role you’re applying for place these in the ‘Hobbies and interests’ section.

Read our example cover letter explaining a gap in your CV.

Get help with your CV

If you’re a student or recent graduate and you’d like help creating a CV then you can get professional advice from your university careers service.

During COVID-19 many university careers services have moved their programme of activities and events online to support students and graduates during the pandemic.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) Samples, Templates, and Writing Tips

Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts and has counseled both students and corporations on hiring practices. She has given hundreds of interviews on the topic for outlets including The New York Times, BBC News, and LinkedIn. Alison founded CareerToolBelt.com and has been an expert in the field for more than 20 years.

When applying for certain positions in the U.S., as well as jobs internationally, you may be required to submit a curriculum vitae rather than a resume.

A curriculum vitae, or CV, includes more information than your typical resume, including details of your education and academic achievements, research, publications, awards, affiliations, and more.

What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae (CV) provides a summary of your experience, academic background including teaching experience, degrees, research, awards, publications, presentations, and other achievements, skills and credentials.   CVs are typically used for academic, medical, research, and scientific applications in the U.S.

Review curriculum vitae samples, learn about the difference between a CV and a resume, and glean tips and advice on how to write a CV.

When to Use a CV Instead of a Resume

In the United States, a curriculum vitae is used when applying for academic, education, scientific, or research positions. A curriculum vitae can also be used to apply for fellowships or grants. In Europe, the Middle East, Africa, or Asia, employers may expect to receive a curriculum vitae rather than a resume.

A curriculum vitae, commonly referred to as a “CV,” is a longer (two or more pages), more detailed synopsis than a resume. There are also differences in what is included, and when each document is used.

Your CV should be clear, concise, complete, and up-to-date with current employment and educational information.

What to Include in a Curriculum Vitae

The following are examples of information that can be included in your curriculum vitae. The elements that you include will depend on what you are applying for, so be sure to incorporate the most relevant information to support your candidacy in your CV.

  • Personal details and contact information. Most CVs start with contact information and personal data but take care to avoid superfluous details, such as religious affiliation, children’s names, and so on.
  • Education and qualifications. Be sure to include the names of institutions and dates attended in reverse order: Ph.D., Masters, Undergraduate.
  • Work experience/employment history. The most widely accepted style of employment record is the chronological curriculum vitae. Your career history is presented in reverse date order starting with the most recent appointment. More emphasis/information should be placed on your most recent jobs.
  • Skills. Include computer skills, foreign language skills, and any other recent training that is relevant to the role applied for.
  • Training / Graduate Fieldwork / Study Abroad
  • Dissertations / Theses
  • Research experience
  • Teaching experience
  • Publications
  • Presentations, lectures, and exhibitions
  • Grants, scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships
  • Awards and honors
  • Technical, computer, and language skills
  • Professional licenses, certifications, and memberships

What Not to Include in a CV

There is no need to include your photo, your salary history, the reason you left your previous position, or references in a CV submitted for jobs in the United States. References should be listed separately and given to employers upon request.

The requirements for international CVs differ, and depend upon the country to which you are applying.

In other countries, private information like your date of birth, nationality, marital status, how many children you have, and a photograph may be required.

How Long Should a CV Be?

A good, entry-level curriculum vitae should ideally cover two to three pages (CVs for mid-level professionals, especially in academia and medical research roles, may run longer).  

Aim to ensure the content is clear, structured, concise, and relevant. Using bullet points rather than full sentences can help minimize word usage.

Curriculum Vitae Sample

The following is a curriculum vitae example for an entry-level candidate for a faculty position in the US. This CV includes employment history, education, competencies, awards, skills, and personal interests. Download the CV template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Curriculum Vitae Example (Text Version)

Gloria Gonzalez
3204 Windover Way
Houston, TX 77204
[email protected]
000.123.4567 (Cell)

RESEARCH INTERESTS

Hispanic Literature, Latin American Literature, Peninsular Literature

EDUCATION

Ph.D. in Spanish (US Hispanic Literature), 2018 – University of Houston.
Dissertation: Quixote Reborn: The Wanderer in US Hispanic Literature. Sancho Rodriguez, Chair

M.A. in Spanish, June 2015 – University of Houston

B.A. in Spanish, June 2013 – University of Houston

APPOINTMENTS

Adjunct Lecturer: University of Houston, Department of Hispanic Studies, September 2018 to Present.

PUBLICATIONS

Gonzalez, Gloria. Quixote Reborn: The Wanderer in US Hispanic Literature. New Haven: Yale University Press (forthcoming)

Peer-reviewed Journals

Gonzalez, Gloria. “Mexican Immigrant Stories from the Central Valley,” Lady Liberty Journal, 6(1): 24-41.

Gonzalez, Gloria. “Comparing the Hispanic and European Immigrant Experience through Story,” Hispanic Literature Today 12(3): 25-35.

Gonzalez, Gloria. “Yearning to Be Free: 3 Hispanic Women’s Diaries,” Hispanic Literature Today: 11(2): 18-31.

CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

2020. Gonzalez, Gloria. “Storytelling Methods in the Central Valley.” Hispanic Storytelling Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA

2019. Gonzalez, Gloria. “When Cultures Merge: Themes of Exclusion in Mexican-American Literature.” US Hispanic Literature Annual Conference, Tucson, AZ.

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

Adjunct Lecturer, University of Houston

  • Mexican-American Literature, Spanish 3331
  • Women in Hispanic Literature, Spanish 3350
  • Spanish-American Short Story, Spanish 4339

Graduate Teaching Assistant, Northwestern University

  • Elementary Spanish 1501, 1502, 1505
  • Intermediate Spanish 2301, 2302, 2610

HONORS / AWARDS

Mexico Study Abroad Summer Grant, 2018
UH Teaching Awards, 2017, 2018, 2020
Dissertation Fellowship, 2017

LANGUAGES

English (native)
Spanish (bilingual oral and written fluency)
Classical Latin (written)

MEMBERSHIPS / AFFILIATIONS

National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures
Asociación Internacional de Literatura y Cultura Femenina Hispánica
Modern Languages Association

More Curriculum Vitae Examples and Templates

Here are additional resources and CV examples to review to get ideas and inspiration for writing your own CV.

Curriculum Vitae Writing Tips

Have Several Versions of Your CV

Don’t just write one CV and use it for every position you apply for.

Have targeted and focused versions of your curriculum vitae and use them accordingly.

Keep It Concise

When possible, try to keep your CV short and concise. Include summaries of your employment and education, rather than lots of details. Use formal (no slang or abbreviations) language, writing simply and clearly.

Tell the Truth

It can be tempting to over-polish a CV and make our educational qualifications or work history sound a little better than they are. If you’re tempted to stretch the truth about your work history – don’t. It will come back to haunt you.

Most employers conduct reference and background checks, and if your curriculum vitae doesn’t match your actual work history or education, you will most likely get caught at some point – either you will be cut as a candidate or you will get fired if you have already been hired.

Check the Format

Look at the format of your curriculum vitae. Is there plenty of white space? Is it cluttered? Is your formatting consistent (bold, italic, spacing, etc.) and is the overall picture that your CV provides a professional and polished one?

Proof Your Curriculum Vitae

Double-check your curriculum vitae for typos and grammatical errors. Then, ask someone else to review it for you – it’s often hard to catch our mistakes.

Choose an Appropriate Curriculum Vitae Format

Make sure you choose a curriculum vitae format that is appropriate for the position you are applying for. If you are applying for a fellowship, for example, you won’t need to include the personal information that may be included in an international CV.

How to Write a Curriculum Vitae

Here are the details on when to use a CV, what to include, and how to write it.