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Curriculum Vita or Resume?

If you're seeking a faculty, research, or leadership position at an academic or scientific organization, you've probably heard the term "Curriculum Vita". Just as some industries (such as engineering, sales and the performing arts) have their own styles and requirements for a resume, so does the professional academic world.

A curriculum vita may should like an intimidating formal document, but relax- there's no need to put on your evening gown or tux to write your CV! You've already learned the principles for creating an effective resume.
  • Most CVs are more than two pages long.
  • The information on a CV tends to be detailed, providing data such as publications, presentations and academic work.
  • Curriculum vitas do not necessarily contain job objective statements, although it's perfectly all right to include one.

    Let's look at each of these exceptions more closely.

    How Long should a CV Be?
    The length of a CV may vary. A CV for a recent Ph.D. graduate would normally may be two or three pages long. For someone with extensive professional experience, it could run as long as seven or eight pages. That's a lot of paper, but the people reading them seem to live by the slogan "more is more". (That's the CV twist on the "more is less" theme I've been espousing all along.

    How Detailed Should a CV Be?
    Your CV audience is more interested in facts than it is in hype (that is, language that sounds exaggerated in order to impress). Data such as reference information, dates and exact titles are important, since they give a means for verifying information. Providing technical descriptions also gives you a chance to show that you know what you're talking about without sounding like a braggart.

    Here is an example of what I mean. Instead of saying:
    Prominent scientist who has been honored at universities around the world for ground-breaking discoveries. It's more appropriate to state:

    Organic chemist who has presented discoveries and research at universities in Russia, Mexico, Canada and the U.S.

    Should I Include a Job Objective Statement?

    Many CV's don't include job objectives, especially if the applicant intends to stay in the same field. Between the college degree and the work history, it's usually obvious what type of position sought. However, if you're planning to change careers (for example, from research to teaching), a job objective statement at the top of the CV is helpful to the reader.

    Give Your CV Some Personality
    Because the CV usually addresses a conservative reader, many assume that it needs to follow a rigid outline. Well, not if I can help it! You can use creativity to present your strengths while respecting the expectations of the academic, scientific or institutional employer. That means you can consider using any one of the five formats I've suggested so far; chronological, functional, achievement, hybrid based on the chronological format or hybrid based on the functional format.

    Curriculum Vita Headings

    Following are some headings you may want to include on your CV. If a Category isn't applicable to you, disregard it or combine it with another heading.


    This section almost always appears near the top of page one. It should provide information about each degree you have achieved, including major, date received, institution, city, state and the titles of these and dissertations. You can also include course titles if they demonstrated relevant knowledge. Internships may either be placed under this heading, in a section of their own, or under "Experience," depending on which strategy makes the sense for your situation.

    Assuming that you are staying in the same line of the work, you can use the chronological format for your CV. In that case, your work experience is usually listed in reverse chronology, with descriptive statements and achievements under each heading.

    If you're changing careers or have significant gaps in your employment history, you can use the functional format for your CV. To achieve a traditional look, follow the ideas for constructing a hybrid based on the functional format.

    Publications, Presentations and Workshops

    Articles, monographs, books, chapters in books and research papers that you have authored or co-authored should go under the heading "Publications."

    State the titles of papers you presented, names of conferences, locations and dates in the category termed "Presentations and Workshops." If it adds to your qualifications, elaborate on the roles you played.

    Committees and Appointments, Professional Affiliations

    List your titles, names of committees, locations, dates and if appropriate what results were achieved under "Committees and Appointments."

    In addition, list the associations that you belong to alphabetically or in order of relevance to your profession under " Professional Affiliations." If you hold an office, that should also be noted.

    Additional Headings

    Other headings that might appear on your CV include: "Exhibitions," "Awards and Honors," "Research," Grants," "Symposia," "Lectures," "Teaching," and "Licenses."


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