If you are pursuing a career in research or academia, you may need to create a CV for potential employers. A CV allows you to detail your scholarly accomplishments and educational history to show you’re qualified for the role. Understanding how to format a CV will help you create a compelling document that leaves a positive impression on the hiring committee. In this article, we describe what a CV is and how to write one, and we provide an example.
What is a CV?
CV stands for curriculum vitae, which is Latin for “course of life.” In some countries like India, South Africa and Australia, a CV and resume are interchangeable. However, in the United States and many parts of Europe, a CV is a detailed outline of your academic career and accomplishments.
In the United States, you may need a CV to apply for a teaching or research position. If you’re applying for a job outside the US that requests a CV, you can send your resume.
Name and contact information
How to write a CV
Here are seven basic steps for writing a CV:
1. Create a header with contact information
Your header should be at the top of the page and include your name, phone number and email address so employers immediately know who you are and how to reach you.
2. Write a professional summary
Your professional summary is a short bio that introduces you to the reader. This section sums up your best qualifications and explains your ideal career path.
3. Detail your education
Since a CV is often used for the academic job search process, it’s important to include a section on your educational history. List your education in reverse chronological order, with your most recent degree first. Include both degrees you’ve earned and those you’re pursuing.
4. Provide your work experience
Detail all your practical work experience so your prospective employer can see your career path, including:
- Full-time and part-time employment
- Research projects
- Lab work
- Volunteer work
- Field experience
Include the title of your position, the name and location of your employer and employment dates. Below this, list two to three bullet points that explain your job duties.
5. List your relevant skills
List any abilities that apply to the potential job, such as foreign languages or a type of software. Try to include skills that relate to the job description to make yourself a more desirable candidate.
6. Include additional sections
CVs are usually longer than resumes so you can detail all the achievements relevant to the potential role. Add sections as needed to list all of your accomplishments, including:
- Presentation and lectures
- Community service
- Grants, fellowships or scholarships
- Awards and honors
- Professional memberships
- Consulting work
- Study abroad experience
7. Describe your personal interests (optional)
You can choose to include a brief description of your hobbies and interests. Including a few hobbies may help you form a personal connection with the hiring manager.
Here is a basic template you can follow when creating your CV:
[Address, phone number, email address]
[Introduce yourself, highlight your best qualifications and explain why you’re a fit for the job]
[Title of degree] [GPA] [Dates attended]
[Title of dissertation or thesis]
[Job title] [Dates of employment]
[Name of employer] [City and state of employer]
[description of your responsibilities and accomplishments]
[Short paragraph on your personal pursuits]
[Position held or job performed] [Dates of service]
[Organization] [City and state of organization]
[Authors with your name in bold] [Year of publication] [Title of article] [Publishing journal]
Awards and honors
[Name of award] [year]
Download CV Template
To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.
This example is a detailed CV for a zoologist:
685 Vine Grove Drive, Akron OH | 330-555-3563 | firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a passionate zoologist who is interested in furthering conservation efforts through research that will help individuals better understand what various species need to survive, thrive and grow. I’m seeking a position that will utilize my experience studying wild animals to help protect and serve populations.
Master of Science in Integrative Biology | 3.9 GPA | 2014
Michigan State University
Dissertation: “Variation in Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) Survival Across Different Environments”
Bachelor of Science in Zoology | 3.7 GPA | 2010
Michigan State University
Thesis: “Environmental Influences on the Observable Evolution of Different Species”
Conservation Scientist, Population Biology | 2015–2019
Chicago Zoological Society | Brookfield, IL
- Conducted research on how population processes affect the viability of wildlife populations both in situ and ex situ
- Hired, trained and managed staff members within the conservation science program
- Helped develop and maintain the Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative (SCTI)
Wildlife Biologist | 2010–2012
US Department of Agriculture | Chicago, IL
- Evaluated damage hazards from wildlife species
- Collected biological specimens to conduct disease sampling
- Performed environmental assessments and drafted scientific and administrative reports
Skills and certifications
- The Wildlife Society, Certified Wildlife Biologist
- Extensive knowledge of database software including TeamDesk, Knack and TablePlus
- Ability to use DNA sequencers, Bioanalyzers and fluorometers
- Knowledge of state regulations regarding scientific research
Karen Wu, Paul Dogget, Michael Open, Alice Johnson. March 2018. “Effects of Environmental Change on Native Birds of Michigan.” International Journal of Zoology
Paul Carter, Alice Johnson, Amy Newman. October 2017. “Human-induced Habitat Change and its Impact on the Great Lakes Region.” Current Zoology
*Alice Johnson. December 2016. “The Role of Public Zoos in National Conservancy Efforts.” The Scientist*
Awards and Honors
Outstanding Academic Achievement and Promise in Zoology Award, Michigan State University (2013)
Dan Bolin Undergraduate Student Award, Zoology (2003)
Member of Zoological Association of America
Member of Society for Conservation Biology
Member of American Institute of Biological Sciences
I enjoy volunteering at my local Humane Society, providing essential care to animals and performing basic training activities with dogs to increase their adoptability. I also have two dogs and spend most weekends hiking with them, often taking road trips to explore new and fascinating destinations.