How to write a CV
Streamline writing a curriculum vitae in six steps.
But before beginning to write your CV, ensure your employer wants a curriculum vitae, not a traditional resume. Although both of these documents serve the same purpose, they have some fundamental differences you need to be aware of.
CV or Resume
Which is right for you?
In the U.S., a CV is a document that some job seekers use to apply to select industries, academic positions or jobs in the sciences.
The resume is still the most popular option for most job seekers in the U.S. A concise, one to two-page resume is what most employers expect to receive unless otherwise specified.
Here are a few key differences between both documents that will help you determine the right one for you.
If you find that the resume is more appropriate for the job and industry you are applying to, consider creating an impressive application document with the help of our resume-writing guide.
If the curriculum vitae is the right job application document for you, keep reading to learn about writing a professional CV.
Organize your CV’s header correctly
Your CV’s header needs to include your full name and contact information. Avoid CV templates with “CV” or “curriculum vitae” on the header since this is redundant and distracts from what is truly important here: you.
- Your full name
- Phone Number
- City and state of residence
- Job title, either your current position or the one you’re applying for
- Although not mandatory, you can include your LinkedIn profile or links to online portfolios and relevant work social media accounts
Write a CV summary that captures employers’ attention
The CV summary section is where you introduce yourself to the employer. You must showcase your most important and relevant professional qualifications for the job here.
- Your years of experience
- Your education level
- Job-relevant skills
- A unique achievement that can help you stand out from other candidates
CV summary example
“Senior Digital Marketing Manager with 10 years of experience excelling at SEO and integrated marketing in various industries, primarily global non-profit organizations and arts and cultural institutions. Consistently drive large teams to achieve beyond established goals by implementing organized production processes and promoting creativity. Won Gold for Integrated Digital Marketing Campaigns at the Cresta Awards for two years in a row.”
If you’re a candidate with limited experience in your job, consider writing a CV objective which focuses on your career goals and what skills and tools you possess to achieve them.
CV objective example
“Sophomore Biology student at John Hopkins University interested in applying to AstraZeneca’s Pharmaceutical’s bioinformatics internship. Participated in Harvard University’s Mechanistic Biology and Structural Bioinformatics summer internship program. Experienced analyzing single-cell proteomics and glycoproteomics using datasets. Proficient in software like Unipept and Integrated Genome Browser.”
If you need extra help creating your CV summary or objective, remember that our Builder can suggest over a dozen content suggestions for this and all your CV sections by considering your desired job and years of experience.
List your work experience in detail
The work experience section in your CV should consist of all jobs related to your career and the role for which you’re applying.
- Job title
- Employer or company name
- Work location (city and state)
- Dates of employment (month and year)
- Bullet points describing your most relevant achievements within that role.
CV work experience example
Translator | IU Health University Hospital – Indianapolis, IN
02/2019 – 012/2022
- Translated communications between Tagalog-speaking patients and English-speaking parties as needed.
- Created a backlog of written translations and inserted information into digital database.
- Collaborated in writing educational booklet of common cultural phrases to assist colleagues during international communications, increasing productivity by 34%.
You can create an impactful work experience in minutes using our Builder to create your CV. Our AI-powered Resume Builder generates hundreds of work experience descriptions you can copy-paste and edit with your skills and quantifiable achievements.
Tips for writing a recruiter-approved CV work experience section
Try to include at least one quantifiable achievement.
Incorporating numbers in your work description gives validity to your claims and helps employers see the extent of your successes.
Organize your job titles in reverse-chronological order.
Recruiters can quickly gauge what’s your current experience level and continue reading for the full scope.
Incorporate keywords from the job description.
Every job ad gives clues as to what the employers wants from a candidate. Include these skills and qualifications to ensure you’re the best candidate.
Mention core qualifications relevant to the job
In a CV, the core qualifications section is a detailed skills section that provides a preview of what a potential employer will discover when reading your CV. Like a sneak peek.
The core qualifications section consists of a few bullet point phrases that share the skills and qualifications that are most relevant to the job
Check out this example so you can visualize it easier:
CV core qualifications example
- Strong negotiation and litigation skills in state and appeals courts.
- Remain calm and level-headed under pressure.
- Thorough research skills
- Knowledge and ability to interpret U.S. and international copyright laws and regulations
- Excellent intercultural and communication skills.
Showcase your education achievements
The education section is critical in CVs, and unlike resumes, this section goes higher up on the page, ideally after core qualifications.
- Degree title
- College or university
- School location (city and state)
- Graduation date (optional)
If you have multiple degrees, list them in reverse-chronological order. This way, employers see the most recent and relevant education first.
You should also omit graduation dates, particularly for undergraduate degrees, to avoid hiring bias by employers trying to guess your age.
If you’re completing any degree or transferred schools, you can add each school’s expected graduation date or attendance dates.
CV education example
Ph.D Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
University of California – San Francisco, CA
Master of Science Chemistry
Arizona State University– Tempe, AZ
Bachelor of Science Biology
Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ
Customize your CV with additional sections
Because CVs tend to be longer and include much more information than a resume, it’s customary to include additional sections that show a picture of your whole career.
Consider including some of the following CV sections depending on the job you’re applying to and the job requirements
If you have had multiple work experiences, you can create a separate section for research experience. You can also include graduate practicums and research you conducted yourself.
Research Assistant: “Code Switching Translation Research Project” (2019). Collected data from interviews, transcribed and indexed them into a project database.
Course Developer: “Translation and Neurolinguistics.” Assisted course professors in drafting lesson plans and researching lesson materials such as relevant publications, audiovisual media and research projects from various universities and institutions.
If you’ve published any text or research throughout your career, it’s crucial you include these publications in a separate section. Employers will want to study the quantity and quality of your published work, and this section makes it easier for them. Remember to cite your work in the appropriate citation format for your industry or discipline.
- Ramirez, José A. and Mueller, Edna M., “Development of Kaposi sarcomas in the maxillofacial region.” Journal of Oncology. 2 Feb. 2018, pp. 10-17.
If you have teaching experience in addition to your primary job (as a doctor, researcher, lawyer, etc.), you can add these experiences in another section. Here, list your teaching assistant or professorship roles.
- The University of Chicago: Theater Seminar: Race Relations in 20th-century plays.” Chicago, IL
- University of Wisconsin: Contemporary Literature I & II, Madison, WI. 2021-2022.
In addition to your core qualifications, you can add multiple skills sections on your CV. You can add a straightforward list of skills in the technical skills section. You can change this section heading to “Skills,” “Key Skills,” “Relevant Skills or even “Soft Skills” if that’s what you want to focus on.
- Creative writing
List your affiliations or memberships to any professional organization and mention if you hold any leadership position such as president or secretary.
- Hispanic National Bar Association – 2017
- California Lawyers Association (CLA) – 2015
If your role demands it, list certifications or licenses that legitimize your work. Even if you don’t need a license to practice your profession legally, certifications are a great way to prove your continuing education.
- Oregon State Public Librarian Certification (2018)
- Library Association of Portland (2019)
If you speak more than one language, you should include it in your CV. Being a polyglot can increase your chances of getting hired since you can offer translation services or communicate with a broader range of professionals and clients.
- English (Fluent)
- Spanish (Fluent)
- French (Conversational)
Conference presentations and attendances are part of your professional development. Employers love to see that you’re an active member of your professional community, so include any participation in industry conferences.
- DigiMarCon Texas (2021)
- DigiMarCon Las Vegas (2019)
- Savant eCommerce Barcelona (2016)
Academics, doctors and researchers get awarded grants and admitted into fellowships because of the value of their work. Committees sometimes choose between hundreds of applicants, so including these is a great way to boost your CV.
- Norman Newell Early Career Grant Program – 2020
- Sepkoski Grant (Paleontological Society International Research Program) – 2019
Like grants and fellowships, awards demonstrate that peers value your work highly. Although there can be academic awards, these can be found across most industries.
- National Book Award – Best Translation (2019)
- The Athenaeum Literary Award (2017)
Easily create a CV with
Did you know you can create a CV with the help of our CV Builder’s user-friendly customization tool? It’s easier than you think!
Simply follow our Builder’s prompts — like answering your desired job title and your years of experience — until you complete all the mandatory sections.
Once you’ve reached the final step of the process, you’ll find the Builder gives you the option to add custom sections. All you have to do is write in the title heading you want (Think: Core Qualifications, Publications, Grants and Fellowships) and fill in that section with the help of the examples on this CV guide.
After adding all the sections you want, you’ll see a preview of the document. You’ll click and drag the sections and organize them in the appropriate order. Make sure you put the core qualifications after your summary statement and move the education section up.
You’re all done!
Frequently Asked Questions
How to make a CV ATS-friendly?
Each of LiveCareer’s resume and CV templates are crafted to pass scans performed by ATS (applicant tracking system) programs. Our recruiter-approved, expertly designed templates guarantee that your information is laid out strategically, headers and footers are used correctly, no inappropriate fonts are used, and margins are clear and properly sized. Taking care of these elements ahead of time makes it much easier for a resume to be approved by an ATS.
What makes a good CV?
Adhering to the job posting requirements is important, but a good CV goes even deeper and explores the significant details of your entire career experience. A good CV should include every element of your work, academic history and other relevant background information. In some countries and for specified industries, they can also include your picture, hobbies, interests and various background details.
How do I write a CV for an internship?
Even though you might not have a lot of traditional work experience, you can still include a variety of qualifications in your CV. Academic and volunteering programs can be a great way to show direct industry experience. Be sure to strike the right balance of hard and soft skills and use quantifiable metrics, like percentages, the number of projects you worked on or dollar amounts, to present yourself as a well-rounded candidate.
How do I write an academic CV?
Most academic CVs are between four and five-pages long, reaching a maximum of 10 pages, depending on your experience level. Similar to a standard resume, professional experiences are also outlined chronologically. Instead of altering the document to correspond with the open position’s requirements, the focus should be on cataloging all academic accomplishments such as publications, research, program assistance and mentorships.
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