How to Write a Curriculum Vitae (CV) for a Job

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Are you working on a curriculum vitae? Not sure what to include? Here's why, when, and how to use a CV, when to use a resume vs. a curriculum vitae, CV writing and formatting guidelines 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, 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, and place of birth. United States law on 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 (up to two or more pages), more detailed synopsis of your background and skills.

A CV includes a summary of your educational and academic backgrounds as well as teaching and research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honors, affiliations and other details. 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 and experience. In addition to the basics, a CV includes research and teaching experience, publications, grants and fellowships, professional associations and licenses, awards, and other information relevant to the position you are applying for.

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

Personal Information to Include in an International CV

  • Marital Status
  • Age
  • Number of children (ages optional)
  • Personal Interests like hobbies
  • All education including high school / secondary school
  • Photos are also recommended (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 cannot 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 version and include a result.
  • Start with a Professional Profile (also called a Summary) that highlights the best of what the candidate is offering.
  • Edit content to include those areas of expertise, skills, and knowledge that match the job, not all the details of your education and employment history (work, research, fellowships, etc.)

Tips for Getting Your CV Noticed

Here are some tips on how to get your CV noticed in a crowded job market.

Consider a Combination CV
If you are looking for an academia position - consider a combination CV which includes a summary, job descriptions and accomplishments like a regular resume, along with all the additional information (such as presentations, publications, education, membership, certifications) in traditional CV's.

This is a much more powerful presentation which will allow you to show how you add value and will stand out from the crowd.
Robin Schlinger,, CARW, CFRW, CPRW

Target Your CV to Your Audience
While the CV isn't a resume, it still should be carefully targeted and organized to best represent you in the light of your audience. First step here is, of course, careful study of the opening description.

Second, find out who will be making the final candidate decision, and learn as much background information on each of these people as possible. That probably means networking your way to future peers, and finding out, if possible, what got them there. Be sure to ask questions about the culture; it'll give you clues in how to present your CV.

Arrange the CV contents and organize your facts in accordance with what you've learned. For example, if a new post at a major university places particular emphasis on publishing, highlight your credits early, and include a bibliography listing of articles from most recent to oldest.
Sandra E. Lamb,, author of How to Write It and Personal Notes

Review CV Samples and Tips

It's often helpful to take a look at a sample or two before you start writing. Here are a selection of sample CVs, including versions for academia and for international employment, to review:

Curriculum Vitae Examples
These sample CVs form a helpful guide of what to include in your CV and how to format it.

When to Use a Curriculum Vitae 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.

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.

Curriculum Vitae Cover Letters
How to write an effective cover letter to include along with your CV, as well as cover letter samples, how to format a cover letter, and types of cover letters with samples of each.

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