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Curriculum Vitae

  • The curriculum vitae, also known as a "CV" or "vita," is a comprehensive statement of your educational background and your teaching and research experience.
  • It is the standard representation of credentials within academe and should emphasize your strongest qualifications and provide enough detail to stand up under intense scrutiny during a thorough reading.
  • The CV is only used when applying for academic positions in four-year institutions. Do NOT use a CV when applying to community colleges. You will instead need a resume that emphasizes your teaching commitment and experience.
  • CV format can vary by discipline, so in addition to using this guide, seek advice from advisers, professors and others within your field.


Tailor your CV to the specific positions to which you are applying. A CV submitted for a position at a teaching-focused liberal arts college will strongly emphasize teaching, whereas a CV for a position at a research-intensive university will accentuate research.
When applying for faculty positions, you will probably want to create several different versions of your CV, each tailored to the needs of the institution. When preparing your CV,
  • Read the job description carefully to identify key job responsibilities, and the relative importance of teaching, research, and service.
  • Research the college or university through their website. You may also find it useful to learn more about the institution’s size and demographics through the Carnegie Classifications.
  • Because academic institutions vary in their missions and objectives, you should tailor the order of presentation to different audiences.

Visual Appeal

CVs may only be reviewed for a few seconds. During that time you need to convey information and to convincingly describe your experiences and potential. Your CV must be well organized and easy to read.
  • The reader starts at the top and left sides, so make sure the most important information is located there. In general, place the name of the position, title, award, or institution on the left side of the page and associated dates or years on the right. The position, not the date, is the most important information to convey.
  • Choose an effective format and be consistent.
  • Strategically use bolds, italics, underlines, and capitalization to draw attention.
  • Use a simple, balanced layout with plenty of white space and easy-to-read fonts.
  • Use bullets to summarize your experiences.      
  • List items in reverse chronological order within each section.
Proofread your CV carefully, and ask others to review it for you. Even one grammatical or spelling error may invalidate your CV to most employers, so pay close attention to all details.
There are no length restrictions for CVs.


Even academics need to be mindful about how they present themselves. Your CV is the principal way that potential employers learn about your experiences and suitability for a position. Make sure you present yourself in the best possible way.
  • Articulate what you have done and take advantage of the opportunity to describe your research and teaching experiences—do more than simply list them.
  • Avoid the bland phrase "responsibilities included." This can sound like a dull job description.
  • Instead, use bullets to describe your activities and successes.
  • Each bullet should start with an action verb (PDF) to make it powerful and descriptive.
It is important to emphasize the importance of honesty. Although you do want to promote yourself, never misrepresent or exaggerate any information on your CV.

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