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Sound Writing

Section 11.5 Writing Curriculum Vitae

What is a Curriculum Vitae?

Writing a Curriculum Vitae (often abbreviated as “CV” or shortened to “vita”) has much in common with Writing Resumes 1 ; however your CV serves a slightly different purpose than your resume. Resumes are more popular in non-academic work and tend to prioritize your relevant skills and professional experience, and you are expected to tailor your resume to suit each individual job you apply for. The purpose of a CV, on the other hand, is to speak to your comprehensive qualification to be a member of an academic community. Broadly speaking, the three core aspects of an academic job are (1) creating new knowledge by undertaking research and sharing your results, (2) propagating existing knowledge by teaching students, and (3) serving on committees to run academic institutions and societies. At each stage of your career, your CV should speak to what you’ve done in each of these categories over the course of your life.

When to have a CV.

If you’re interested in an academic job, you should start keeping track of your academic work when you begin your undergraduate education. You might not need to send anyone your CV until you apply for graduate school 4+ years later (or perhaps not even until you’re applying to jobs after you get a PhD), but since a CV is meant to be comprehensive and because you only need one, it’s easiest to build one as you progress through your life. If you’re not interested in academic jobs, it still might be useful to build a CV to serve as a “master resume” that you can pull content from each time you apply for a new opportunity.

The Contents of a CV.

What you as an undergrad can put on your CV to apply for graduate school is vastly different from what a veteran professor can put on their CV to apply for an associate dean position, but in both cases the CV should be a comprehensive record of an individual’s scholarly work. Whereas writing a good resume requires that you know a lot about the position that you’re applying for, writing a good CV requires that you keep a good “paper trail” of your significant academic work, especially for things that you’ve done that fit into one of the three core aspects listed above. You’ll probably want to keep track of the following:
  • Your educational history as far back as your undergraduate college, including any awards you’ve won or honor societies you’re a part of.
  • Your research experience:
    • Descriptions of what you specifically did, much as you would list for a resume
    • List of all of your scholarly publications.
    • List of any non-peer-reviewed writing you did. If you can link to a place where someone reading your CV could find something you wrote, you should include it!
    • List of any presentations you’ve given (even to your home department in college).
    • List of any conferences you’ve attended (along with the conference date and location!), especially if you presented work at these conferences.
  • Your teaching experience (including any work you’ve done tutoring or mentoring).
  • Your service:
    • Working on- or off-campus.
    • Volunteering on- or off-campus.

Tip 11.5.1. “Hey, This is Just a Long Resume!”

As far as the content of what appears on a CV, you may at first notice that you’re putting everything on your CV, and that’s okay. When you’re just starting out, part of the function of a CV is maintaining a record (build that paper trail!) of the path you’re taking. As you get older and progress through graduate school, fellowship experiences, post-docs and professorships, you can remove the least-relevant items from your CV, but it’s difficult to retroactively add many years of experience to a CV that you need down the road if you haven’t been keeping track of all of your experiences, awards, presentations, and more.