How to Format a CV

Present your CV in a professional manner

A women and a man are sitting at a table. His back is to the camara and they are shaking hands.
Writing a CV can be easier than you expected
with this advice from our editors.

While the particular format and style you use when writing a curriculum vitae (CV) will depend on your specific purpose, there are a few general components that are necessary for creating the basic skeleton of your CV. After writing these basic elements, it is then possible to customize and develop them in order to ensure they target particular job requirements and highlight your own strengths and work history.

1. Contact information

When formatting a CV, your contact information should be at the top of the page. Begin with your full name—any middle names should be written out or given as initials. Next should be your current and complete mailing address, home and cell phone numbers, and your email address. The amount of information you provide here will determine how readily an employer will be able to contact you.

2. Professional or research objectives

The next section of your CV should state the reasons for writing and distributing a CV, and should provide an overview of your intellectual interests and expertise. It should be kept brief to avoid overlap with other sections, and we recommend including it only if the information is both important and unavailable elsewhere in the CV.

3. Career highlights and major achievements

This section is also optional, but it serves to emphasize key achievements, skills, and qualifications pertinent to the job description.

4. Work history

This portion of your CV should list, in reverse chronology, the positions you have held, including the company name and location, your job title, the period of employment, and your duties and responsibilities written as action statements.

5. Research or laboratory experience

This section should detail the extent to which you have had experience in a lab, or in other similar types of hands-on research. Include the titles of projects, whether they were published in any journals, and the names of professors or other supervisors who have a particular reputation in that field. For each position you have held, you should state the specific period you worked there, any position(s) or title(s) you held, and a short description (preferably in bullet-point form) of your duties and responsibilities.

6. Teaching interests or experience

In this section of your CV, you should document any teaching experience you may have, which should include class titles and brief descriptions. You can also include tutoring or any experience as a group leader in this section.

7. Work experience

Any work experience outside a research or academic setting should be described here.

8. Publications, presentations, and works-in-progress

In this portion of the CV, provide the appropriate references for any publications to which you have contributed, authored, or co-authored. If any of your work is being considered for publication, it can be included in this section. Any papers you have presented at an academic conference or professional association should also be recorded, including the title of your paper, the name and location of the conference, and the date the conference was held.

9. Education

The education section of a CV provides a more thorough examination of your education than a resume would provide. Some of the items that should be included are degrees (whether in progress or complete, in which case you should include the date of completion); the names of universities, colleges, schools, or professional programs attended, and the qualifications gained there; the title of your doctoral dissertation, master’s thesis, or undergraduate thesis; and any other diplomas or certificates. Remember that information should be listed in reverse chronological order, complete with dates.

10. Honors and awards

This section should include departmental awards, fellowships, dean’s list standings, scholarships, and memberships in academic honors associations.

11. Professional associations or memberships

Membership in professional organizations should be listed in this section. If you are not a member of any professional organization, you should discover which organization relates best to your discipline and how you can gain membership.

12. Activities and community service

Activities should only be included in your CV if they are relevant to the position, clearly illustrate your competencies, or are unique (which may help you stand out from the crowd). It is also appropriate to highlight volunteer work for well-known and publicly well-received organizations, such as the Red Cross.

13. Specialized skills

Our CV formatting experts suggest following resume format and listing your skills at the end of your CV. This section should point out those talents specific to the job application, such as language or computer skills.

14. References

It is a wise idea to use the phrase “References available upon request” as the final text on a resume, unless references are specifically requested. This is beneficial because it demonstrates to the employer that you are open to discussion of your work history and character traits.

Remember to use your own judgment; if you don't have enough entries to constitute a separate category, combine them with creative titles that cover both categories. Similarly, overly long categories should be broken into sub-categories. Have a look at our sample CV to see an example of a well-written example of a CV. Having a formatted CV with a clear, well-honed structure goes a long way in helping you land that job, which is why it is all the more important to go over your CV carefully and check that the format, spelling, punctuation, and grammar are all carefully polished. Our CV and resume editing experts are always happy to take a second look and ensure that your CV is error free.

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