Preparing a Curriculum Vitae: Proven Success Strategies

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

CVs (also called “vitas”) and resumes both have similar purposes — as job-seeker 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 provides some expert tips to help you get started 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, CVs tend to provide great detail about academic and research experiences. Where resumes tend toward brevity, CVs lean toward completeness.

Unlike resumes, there is no set format to CVs. While this article will provide a few links to free samples CVs, it is best 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 — and they can be found at the end of this article.

While CVs 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.

Ready to Begin Preparing Your CV?

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

  • Personal/Contact Information
    • –name
      –phone number(s)
  • 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
      –innovations 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
      –chapters in books
      –magazine articles
      –papers presented/workshops
      –ezine articles
      –work currently under submission
      –work in progress
  • Grants
  • Service
    • –academic
  • Academic/Research Interests
  • Affiliations/Memberships
  • Foreign Language Abilities/Skills
  • Consulting
  • Volunteer Work
  • References

Other CV-Related Resources That can Help:

CV Builder (UK)

Helpful Books About CVs and Vitas:

Other Articles/Websites About Vitas/CVs:

You can find more information about resumes by visiting Quintessential Careers: Resume and CV Resources for Job-Seekers.

CV and Vita Samples for Job-Seekers:

Interested in seeing some excellent sample CVs?

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms. Founder Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of He is also founder of and He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at) Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.