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Curriculum Vitae (CV)


A curriculum vitae or CV is similar to a resume in that it provides an overview of your professional and educational experience.  The difference between the two primarily lies in the content and purpose.  A CV is typically developed for application for teaching or research positions in a university or research setting.  A resume is prepared for employers outside the academic environment.  


A CV is a marketing piece, and may be the first point of contact for potential employers. 


Unlike a resume, a CV can be longer than one page.  Typical length would be 2-4 pages for a new professional and 4-7 pages for a person with more experience.  Your CV should not be longer than 10 pages.

Font Style

The font should be simple and easy to read as well as consistent throughout. Try fonts like: Times, Palatino, or Arial.

Font Size

Font sizes should fall between the 10.5 and 12.5 range.


Use good quality bond paper and avoid colors that do not copy well.  


  • Pay careful attention to spelling, punctuation, and grammar. 
  • The spacing should be even and style choices should be uniform. For example: If your job titles are in italics with capital letters, make sure they are all that way.
  • Bold, italicize or underline important headlines (just don’t do all three at once – that’s overkill).
  • Create a bulleted list – not a paragraph formation – for job descriptions.


  • Use concise phrases and avoid full sentences in your descriptions. 
  • Use present tense for current jobs and past tense for past jobs (e.g., draft, drafted).
  • Leave out personal pronouns like “I,” “my” and “me.”  Saying, “I performed” this or “I demonstrated” that is redundant.  Who else would you be talking about if not yourself?
  • Omit the articles “a,” “an” and “the.”  Instead of “Coordinated the special events for the alumni association,” simplify it to say, “Coordinated alumni association special events.” 
  • Take out terms like “assisted in,” “participated in,” and “helped with.”  If you assisted in managing client accounts, simply say, “Managed client accounts.” You can explain later what this role entailed. 
  • Change passive statements to active verbs. Saying “Coordinated client meetings” instead of “Ensured client meetings were coordinated” adds punch and clarity to a job description.
  • Exclude words like “responsibilities” and “duties” under job listings. Your CV should focus on accomplishments, not tasks.
  • Proofreading:
  • Remember that spelling and grammar mistakes are unforgivable! Don’t rely on spell check.  Have at least two other people proofread your finished resume.

Extra Hints

  • Pay close attention to the employer's or recruiter's instructions for submitting your CV on each posting. What format should the CV be in and should it be embedded in an e-mail, e-mailed as an attachment, faxed or mailed? Do they want you to include a position code to help them identify the job you're applying for?
  • While you may be struggling to think of pertinent work experience you probably have more than you realize. For example, if you have worked in a retail operation, your skills and qualifications include customer service skills, dependability, accountability, the ability to work as a part of a team and experience in managing money. Many skills learned in part-time positions are quite relevant to the corporate world. Don't underestimate the skills you have gained.
  • Don't just write one CV and use it for every position you apply for. Have targeted and focused versions of your CV and use them accordingly.


The CV should begin with your name, contact information (including email), and education.  Information listed under education, teaching, research, service, or other categories should generally be listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent listed first.  We recommend starting by making a list of all your background information, then organizing it into categories.

Education: Include the name of the colleges or universities attended, city, and state of each, degrees earned, area(s) of study, and graduations dates.  List the title of each thesis/dissertation, as well as the primary advisor.

Other Categories: Beyond this basic information, category headings used within CVs may vary widely.  However there are certain major areas that require attending regardless of specific headings used.  There are: Teaching, Research, and Service.

Teaching: List all teaching fellowships, assistantships, or any other experiences working with students in a classroom setting.  You may also choose to list teaching interests or similar categories.

Research: Include all relevant research experience in your area of specialization.  You may choose to list publications, conference presentations, and any other evidence of scholarly work in this section.

Service: Include service to the university or community.  You may also include professional associations, volunteer work, committee membership, etc. in this section.

Possible Category Headings

  • Education
  • Professional Studies
  • Academic Background
  • Academic Training
  • Degrees
  • Professional Competencies
  • Educational Highlights
  • Areas of Knowledge
  • Areas of Expertise
  • Areas of Concentration
  • Specialized Training
  • Internships
  • Teaching Assistantships
  • Teaching Interests
  • Academic Interests
  • Educational Interests
  • Professional Interests
  • Professional Experience
  • Professional Overview
  • Teaching Experience
  • Teaching Overview
  • Experience Summary
  • Professional Summary
  • Related Professional Experience
  • Academic Accomplishments
  • Professional Accomplishments
  • Career Achievements
  • Career Highlights
  • Administrative Experience
  • Professional Service
  • Professional Development
  • University Involvement 
  • Service
  • Outreach
  • Leadership
  • Professional Association
  • National Boards
  • Conference Participation
  • Scholarly Presentations
  • Programs and Workshops
  • Professional Activities
  • Presentations and Publications
  • Professional Papers
  • Arrangements/Scores
  • Performances
  • Recitals
  • Scholarships
  • Fellowships
  • Academic Awards
  • Honors
  • Distinctions
  • College Activities
  • Awards
  • Affiliations
  • Professional Memberships
  • Professional Certification
  • Licensure
  • Foreign Study
  • Languages 


As mentioned above, it is important to incorporate evidence of teaching, research, and service in your CV, but choice of category headings to cover these areas is purely subjective.  Most CVs include a sampling of the category headings that emphasize your particular strengths and achievements.

Also, depending on the position to which you are applying, it may make more sense to rearrange categories.  For instance, if you are applying for a college teaching position where teaching is the primary focus, it is recommended to focus on that general area early in the CV.  


Be sure to end your CV with a short list of references, if possible.  Supply the name, address, telephone/fax number, and email address of 3-6 individuals who can comment on your ability to succeed in the position for which you are applying.  

Chose your references wisely, i.e., persons who know you and your work well, and think about choosing people with high external visibility.  Be sure to ask their permission before submitting their names.

Whenever you provide reference information to an institution, advise your references that they may be contacted.  Keep them up-to-date on your professional activities and provide them with a copy of your CV.

Copyright 2003 UNC- Chapel Hill

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