Preparing a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

by Randall S. Hansen, PhD

Vitas and resumes both have similar purposes—as marketing documents that provide key information about your skills, experiences, education, and personal qualities that show you as the ideal candidate. Where a resume and a curriculum vitae differ is their use, format, and length.

A curriculum vitae, often called a CV or vita, tends to be used more for scientific and teaching positions than a resume. Thus, vitas tend to provide great detail about academic and research experiences. Where resumes tend toward brevity, vitas lean toward completeness.

Unlike resumes, there is no set format to vitas. While this article will provide a few free sample vitas, it is best to also discuss any special formatting your field requires with a mentor or trusted member of your network. There are also a few books that provide much more depth on the subject—and they can be found at the end of this article.

While vitas do not have the one-page rule of resumes, you need to walk the line between providing a good quality of depth to showcase your qualifications and attract potential employer interest and providing too much information thus appearing verbose and turning off potential employer interest.

Ready to begin?

Typical categories or headings may include some or all of the following:

  • Personal Information
    • name
    • address
    • phone numbers(s)
    • email
  • Academic Background
    • postgraduate work
    • graduate work/degree(s), major/minors, thesis/dissertation titles, honors
    • undergraduate degree(s), majors/minors, honors
  • Professional Licenses/Certifications
  • Academic/Teaching Experience
    • courses taught, courses introduced
    • innovation in teaching
    • teaching evaluations
  • Technical and Specialized Skills
  • Related/Other Experience
  • Professional/Academic Honors and Awards
  • Professional Development
    • conferences/workshops attended, other activities
  • Research/Scholarly Activities
    • journal articles
    • conference proceedings
    • books
    • chapters in books
    • magazine articles
    • papers presented/workshops
    • ezine articles
    • work currently under submission
    • work in progress
  • Grants
  • Service
    • academic
    • professional
    • community
  • Academic/Research Interests
  • Affiliations/Memberships
  • Foreign Language Abilities/Skills
  • Consulting
  • Volunteer Work
  • References

Other Helpful Resources

Helpful books about vitas:

  • The Curriculum Vitae Handbook: How to Present and Promote Your Academic Career, by Rebecca Anthony and Gerald Roe (Rudi Publishing).
  • Developing a Professional Vita or Resume, by Carl McDaniels and Mary Anne Knobloch (Ferguson Publishing).
  • How to Prepare Your Curriculum Vitae, by Acy L. Jackson (VGM).

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.