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Preparing a Curriculum Vita (CV)

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. This article will help with your writing and preparing your vita.

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. It is a good idea 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.

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.

Example Sites:

What Makes a Curriculum Vita Stand Out?

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You'll generate a better response with your curriculum vitae if it is well organized and is packed with relevant information to match and support your professional, academic or research objective.

You can apply several unique strategies when writing your curriculum vitae. The first is to prioritize and list the most relevant academic, research, volunteer or work history experience first within the curriculum vitae. The second was to include an Objective and Summary of Qualifications section at the top of each C.V. The third was to incorporate many of the strategies and resume writing techniques you have learned by using our resume pages.

Preparing effective C.V.'s presents a unique challenge due to length, which can make them boring and result in important data being buried or lost in such a long document. As a result, prioritizing your top skills and experience to be presented in the first or uppermost section of your C.V. makes sense. Then detail additional educational, employment or academic experience.

In this way you will maximize important criteria which you do not want to be overlooked by academic or hiring committees.

Who Needs A Curriculum Vita?

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A curriculum vitae is often required for those applying to graduate or professional programs, employment with international firms, or when promoting oneself within professional and academic fields.

How Does a Curriculum Vita Differ From A Regular Resume?

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A curriculum vitae is longer than the average 1-2 page resume because it provides a greater range of information which can include:

  • Professional, Vocational or Research Objective
  • Summary of Qualifications
  • Professional Licenses or Certifications
  • Education including Post Graduate, Graduate and Undergraduate Degrees and Studies
  • Listing of Relevant Course work to Match Career or Academic Objective
  • Educational or Professional Honors or Awards
  • Scientific or Academic Research, Laboratory Experience and Related Skills
  • Description of Thesis or Dissertation, Papers Written, Publications
  • Academic or Professional Presentations
  • Related Extracurricular Activities, Professional and Association Memberships
  • Community Involvement
  • Work Experience - Paid or Volunteer
  • Technical and Specialized Skills such as Computer Programming or Laboratory Instrumentation
  • Interests - Future Academic or Professional Goals
  • Travel / Exposure to Cultural Experiences
  • Foreign Language Skills
  • Additional Information that May Support Objective or Qualifications

Ready to Begin Preparing Your CV?

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Writing a curriculum vitae can seem overwhelming but can be made easier by organizing your background. To begin, put each of the headings listed above--and any others that are relevant--at the top of several sheets of paper (using a computer makes this even easier). Once you've done that then begin filling in your information for topics such as those listed above. You can also use the outline listed below to get you started.

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

Personal/Contact Information

  • name
  • address
  • phone number(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

  • other work 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
Foreign Language Abilities/Skills
Volunteer Work

Sample CV's

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Business CV Samples:

Social Science CV Samples:

Engineering, Math and Science CV Samples:



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