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How to Create an Effective Curriculum Vitae

A good CV can help you land the grants, fellowships, and academic positions you want.

To get ahead in life, you have to put yourself out there. And that often involves putting yourself on paper. To get a job, you need a résumé. But if you’re involved in academia or research, you’ll need a longer—and more complicated—document: the curriculum vitae (CV). Knowing how to create an effective CV can be the difference between advancing in your academic and/or research career and falling short. Fortunately, there are some simple tips you can follow to create an effective CV.

Know the difference between a résumé and a CV.

There are three fundamental differences between a résumé and a CV.


A résumé provides a quick (usually one-page) overview of education, experience, and skills, and demonstrates you are qualified for a specific job. A curriculum vitae provides a record of scholarly achievement and showcases your academic accomplishments and potential.


A résumé is used to apply for jobs in most nonacademic fields. A curriculum vitae is used to apply for grants, fellowships, research positions, and faculty positions.


A résumé is typically no longer than one page. A curriculum vitae is as long as it needs to be to catalog all of your academic achievements.

Know what to include.

A standard CV will include the following sections:

Name and Contact

Use the contact information for your current institution or employer, unless you have a good reason not to.

Areas of Interest

Focus on only your academic and/or research interests.


List your bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, the institutions where you earned them, and the years of graduation. Include both online universities and traditional universities. This is also the place to include the title(s) of your dissertation or thesis.

Grants, Honors, and Awards

List all of your grants and all of the official forms of recognition you’ve received for your scholarly and/or research work. Also list any recognition you’ve received for teaching and service.

Publications and Presentations

List every scholarly article you’ve published, the name of the publication, and the issue in which the article was published. Also, list every presentation you’ve given at an academic conference along with the conference name and the date it was held. If you have a lot of publications and presentations, you may create one section for publications and one for presentations.

Employment and Experience

List your teaching experience, lab experience, field experience, and relevant volunteer experience, being sure to note leadership positions.

Scholarly and/or Professional Memberships

List your memberships and note any offices you’ve held within those organizations.


List the names and contact information of those willing to write you letters of recommendation.

Use a format that fits your specialty.

There is no standard format for a CV. Instead, different areas of academia and research emphasize different aspects of a CV. Take the time to research the format that’s most commonly used by professionals in your field.

Write with purpose and concision.

The best writing style for a CV is one that remains fanatically focused on conveying only the important information and only in a way that is quick and easy to read. To achieve this, you should limit white space by avoiding the overuse of bullets, choose direct rather than flowery language, and employ the techniques of gapping and parallelism.

Gapping is a sentence construct that omits words—often the “I” and conjunctions—to create short phrases. These sentences are not technically grammatical but they are highly effective in communicating information.

Example: Instead of writing, “I taught at State University for 2 years, during which time I mentored 20 students and conducted a lab in radio waves,” you would write, “2010–2012: Taught at State University. Mentored 20 students. Conducted radio wave lab.”

Parallelism simply means using the same sentence structure for every sentence. For a CV, it’s best to follow a subject, verb, object construction (although the gapping technique will allow you to omit the subject when it is “I.”) By constructing every sentence the same, you’ll make your CV easier to read.

Be simple and consistent in overall look and design.

A CV should use a standard font in either 11 or 12 point. It is common to bold headers. Make sure every section is consistent with all the others, using the same font, the same indentation formatting, and the same conventions for headers.

Continue adding accomplishments.

A CV is never done. You should always be adding new achievements, and one of the best ways do that is to continue your education. In the past, it was difficult for working adults to find time to attend classes and earn advanced degrees, but thanks to online education you can now earn bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a format that can allow you to work full time and complete your coursework on a schedule that fits your life.

With the right online university, you can obtain new degrees than can, in turn, help you advance your academic or research career. If you’re looking to expand your curriculum vitae, online education can be the perfect choice.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,