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Curriculum Vitae Resources

What is a curriculum vitae?

A curriculum vitae (or CV) is a document often used when applying for graduate school or academic-related positions. The main purpose of a CV is to prove your expertise in a given area by comprehensively listing your research, teaching, and administrative experience.

An effective CV reflects the priorities of the employer you are applying to. The wording of the job posting and internal structure of the department or organization are your main clues as to what the employer considers important.

When is a CV required?

CVs are used for very specific applications and are expected when applying for:

  • Faculty positions in universities or colleges
  • Professional positions (medicine, law, etc.)
  • Research positions (post-doctoral fellowships, governmental research agencies)
  • Some graduate programs

Differences between a CV and a resume


Resumes are no longer than 2 pages; CVs are often much longer.


Resumes briefly outline your skills, experience and education; CVs describe your professional and academic history in much more detail.

Similarities between a CV and a resume

CVs and resumes both:

  • Outline your skills and experience that are most relevant to the position you are applying for.
  • Use headings to highlight different areas of expertise.
  • Contain your name and contact information.
  • Focus on your accomplishments, rather than tasks.
  • Give information in reverse chronological order, with your most recent experience appearing first under each heading.

Tips for writing a CV

Organize sections according to a hierarchy

Put sections in the order of importance as they relate to you. If you are not sure about the traditional formatting for CVs in your field, check with your supervisor or the head of the department. Also, include specific sections relevant to your field (e.g., Computer Proficiency, Scientific Instrumentation).

Be detailed

Include sufficient, well-written detail about yourself to give employers a good assessment of your qualifications for the position. Here are some general page-length guidelines:

  • Young professional: 2 to 4 pages.
  • Person with more experience: 4 to 7 pages.
  • Maximum: 10 pages (though you can exceed this limit if all the information included is relevant)

Leave out unnecessary information

Omit the following from your CV:

  • Marital status
  • Children
  • Health
  • Spouse's work
  • Religious affiliation
  • Negative words or information

Double-check your work

  • Check your spelling and grammar.
  • Consider the overall look and feel of your CV – use appropriate font sizes, paper stock and quality laser printing.
  • Before you send your CV, review the information in it and update anything that's out of date. You don't have to add the date you prepared or updated your CV, but if you think it would be helpful to you or potential employers, add it at the top of the first page.

Sample CV

See our sample CV.