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Career Assets

The Curriculum Vitae (CV)


Teri Surprenant, Senior Associate Editor

April 2020

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is an important document that all professionals should prepare. Unlike a résumé, which is a brief summary of one’s accomplishments, skills, and employment history, a CV can be quite lengthy as it details your lifelong professional and educational experiences. Putting together your CV can seem a daunting task; however, the majority of the hard work is already done! You’ve completed your degrees (or are perhaps working on one currently) and you have experience working in a laboratory, at a university, or at a company (or maybe a combination of the three). Now is your time to shine and show off all of your accomplishments so prospective employers know exactly what you wish to achieve professionally and why you should be hired.

The length of your CV may vary compared to your colleagues. At the start of your career, your CV may only be 2–4 pages; however, once you are established in your profession, your CV may be much longer, depending upon your accomplishments and publications. Unlike a résumé, there is generally no minimum or maximum length of a CV, and while there is no standard CV format, there are certain sections that potential employers will expect.

What are the essential sections that should be provided in a CV?

1. Name and Contact Information
You will first need to list your name and relevant contact information. You should include a phone number and email address at minimum; in the past a physical address was required, but it is now considered optional.

2. Career Objective
You should include a brief summary of your academic and professional accomplishments. You can also include a sentence about your ultimate professional goal that answers the following question: What experiences have you had and how are they leading you to the position you desire?

3. Employment History
It is essential to include your professional history. You will want to detail your positions as much as possible, explaining what did you in each one and what your contribution was to the team/group that you worked alongside. You should list the company/organization/university, your job title, the dates that you were employed, and any significant numbers that can attest to your hard work (for example, you obtained impressive grants for the organization or you negotiated a large cost savings for the corporation). You should list your job history in reverse chronological order (i.e., the most recent one should be listed first).

You can include information about the specific position in either sentence/paragraph form or as bullet points to highlight your accomplishments.

4. Education
You should include all of your degrees. Like your work history, the degrees should be placed in reverse chronological order.

5. Skills
Be sure to include your skills. Are you a team leader? Did you organize a seminar? Do you speak multiple languages? Skills are typically listed in the form of bullet points and are brief.

6. Presentations/Publications
A section dedicated to presentations and publications should also be included, especially in academia. Be sure to list all of your published abstracts, papers, studies, and books. You will want to present them in typical citation format (author, title, journal, date of publication). For presentations, you will want to include the title, date of the presentation, and the location where you presented (e.g., the conference the presentation was given). These should appear in reverse chronological order.

7. Funding, Awards, and Honors
In your awards section, you should detail the name of the award, the year you received it, the organization that presented the award, and any other pertinent information so the reader knows why it is an honor in your specific field. All funding and awards should be placed in reverse chronological order.

8. Professional Affiliations/Memberships
Be sure to include any professional organizations to which you belong. You do not have to list them in any specific order but many people list them in alphabetical order.

What shouldn’t be included in your CV?

Now that you know what should be included in your CV, you should also know what to avoid including in your document. While it is acceptable to include professional associations that are pertinent to your field, you should never include personal information such as your age (birth date), height, weight, marital status, race, religion, political affiliation, social security number or other tax identification number, or any other information that you deem too personal to share with a broad audience on the internet.

Finally, please find a template below to use to draft a professional CV:

Download Template

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