How to Write a CV: Tips, Templates & Examples

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: January 11, 2024
How To Make Cv Example

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A CV, short for curriculum vitae, which is Latin for “course of life”, is a detailed account of your professional experience and academic background. A CV is vital to a job application because recruiters scan them for specific job-relevant content. 

In this guide, we will explain:

  • The purpose of a curriculum vitae.
  • How a CV is different from a resume.
  • How to make a CV, section by section.
  • How to format and structure a CV.

Plus, we will provide examples and tips for CV writing, crafting a cover letter to complement your curriculum vitae, and what to do when you finally score the job interview of your dreams.

What is the purpose of a curriculum vitae?

Like a resume, a CV is a document that job candidates use to get a job, but it shows the entire range of a job seeker’s career. 

A CV for a job displays your entire work history and details job- and industry-relevant professional accomplishments, such as publications, research, academic scholarships and grants, professional memberships, speaking engagements, and lectures or presentations you’ve given throughout your career.

How is a CV different from a resume?

A resume is a one- to two-page snapshot of a job applicant’s qualifications, including their skills, work history, and education. While a curriculum vitae displays those essential employment credentials, there are no length restrictions to a CV vs resume. You can add many more sections to your CV to show the full breadth of your professional qualifications, customizing your CV for a job every time you apply. 

In the United States, a resume is sufficient for most jobs. Still, employers require a curriculum vitae when the job calls for specialized knowledge or expertise in a specific field, namely academia, medicine, science, law, and government. 

In most European and some Asian countries, jobseekers use a CV like a resume is used in the United States.

Difference Between Cv And Resume Mobile

How to write a CV

According to Undercover Recruiter, most recruiters spend an average of only six to 10 seconds scanning a CV for the necessary job credentials. That’s fast, so you have to let them know you meet the essential requirements of the position in your professional summary or objective statement. Ensure you list the hard and soft skills in your skills section and highlight your achievements for each job you list. 

If you do a good job convincing potential employers that you meet the job’s essential requirements, they will look closely at each section to see how you match up to the competition. Here, we’ll show you how to write a CV that sets you apart so you can get an interview.

STEP 1

Gather Information for your CV

First, you have to prepare. Preparation is a critical part of writing a CV that stands out. Having your essential information ready will ensure you customize your CV to your desired job.

Here’s how to prepare to write a curriculum vitae effectively.

First, review the job description closely. Make a note of all the requirements and “nice-to-haves.”

Then make a list of your:

  • Professional experience, including employers’ names, dates of hire, locations, job titles, and responsibilities.
  • Significant accomplishments from your current and previous jobs.
  • Education credentials. List all schools, their locations, years attended, and the degrees, certifications, licenses, and notable grades you received from each.
  • Publications, including their titles and dates published.
  • Speaking or teaching engagements, dates, topics, and locations.
  • Professional affiliations and memberships, your role, and dates affiliated.
  • Soft and hard skills. It’s OK if it’s a long list; you can edit it later.
  • Volunteer work, including notable achievements, names of organizations, and dates you volunteered for each.
  • Other unique experiences or attributes that set you apart.

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How To Make A Cv Mobile

STEP 2

Choose a  CV template to format your curriculum vitae

There is no set CV format for a job application, so you’re free to organize your professional qualifications based on your industry, job title, and the requirements for the position. That said, a CV template is the best way to structure your curriculum vitae so it passes the applicant tracking systems (ATS). Note that 75% of companies — including 98% of Fortune 500 companies — use to screen job applicants.

Expertly crafted CV templates from My Perfect Resume organize the sections of your CV for maximum readability and allow you to update an existing CV for a job application so you can customize your curriculum vitae quickly and easily.

And that’s not all. Our premium and free CV templates ensure your CV for a job application is formatted correctly with 1-inch spacing and margins, written with recruiter-approved fonts, and visually appealing.

A curriculum vitae template is easy to use when paired with a 

builder. Our CV Maker offers practical job-specific guidance for each section of your CV.  Take advantage of editing and formatting tools, plus multiple file formats for saving and downloading your CV for every job you apply for. We do all the heavy lifting for you! Don’t just take our word for it. Choose one of the CV templates below and plug it into our CV Maker to see how easy it is to build a CV quickly.

Academic

Graduate Assistant CV Template Page1Graduate Assistant CV Template Page2

University Professor CV Template Page1University Professor CV Template Page2

Law

Litigation Attorney CV Template Page1Litigation Attorney CV Template Page2

legal assistant cv example page 1legal assistant cv example page 2

Scientist

Bioinformatician CV Template Page1Bioinformatician CV Template Page2

Research Chemist CV Template Page1Research Chemist CV Template Page2

Medical

Neuroscientist CV Template Page1Neuroscientist CV Template Page2

Another secret to getting past ATS is to apply keywords directly from the job description throughout your CV. Use our guide to optimize your curriculum vitae with keywords and get your job application into the hands of a hiring manager quickly.

STEP 3

Add your contact information at the top of your CV

No matter how you format your CV for a job, it’s wise to place your contact information at the very top of your resume so recruiters and hiring managers know how to find you.

Your contact information on a CV should include the following:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Professional email address
  • City and ZIP code
  • A link to your LinkedIn account, website, or portfolio.

For example:

Resume Contact Info

 

STEP 4

Write a professional CV summary or objective statement

We recommend adding a professional summary or objective statement, often called a personal statement, on every job application CV you write because they give you the chance to show potential employers what you offer in a bite-sized summary that they can digest immediately. A professional statement on your CV can give you a competitive advantage when written well.

Here’s an example of how to write a CV statement to get you started:

“Skilled assistant attorney in private practice with over five years of experience settling personal injury cases and litigating employment defense. Specializes in negotiating settlements quickly. Excels at using research and analysis to provide clients with optimal strategies for the best outcomes. Experienced in preparing discovery, writing case briefs, and peacefully resolving negotiation conflicts.

From there, you can put your CV sections in the order that best highlights your qualifications for the job, as long as you include skills, education, and work experience.

Want more inspiration for writing a CV personal statement? We have 300+ CV samples to help you make a CV that impresses recruiters and hiring managers.

STEP 5

Show off your relevant skills on your CV

Although placing your CV skills section directly under your summary is optional, we recommend placing it at the top of your CV template. Doing so helps potential employers find your core qualifications quickly when they scan your CV for relevance, and it is often the section that recruiters and hiring managers value most.

According to Business Insider, showing that you have the necessary skills on your CV for a job application can win over a hiring manager even if you lack work experience because it shows you have the potential to perform the job duties. Still, many job seekers need to display their skills section more prominently. Studies show that at least 10% of all applicants leave it off their CVs entirely. 

You can stand out by displaying five to 10 of your most job-relevant hard and soft skills on your curriculum vitae. Most potential employers value soft skills for all job titles, with 61% reporting loving them as much as hard skills. Since only 62% of CVs emphasize relevant soft skills, matching your soft skills to the job description will get you noticed.

 

Top 10 skills for writing a CV in 2024

  1. Resilience
  2. Communication
  3. Interpersonal skills
  4. Leadership
  5. Adaptability
  6. Flexibility
  7. Collaboration
  8. Active listening
  9. Cultural competence
  10. Creativity

STEP 6

Add Work Experience to your CV

Work history is an essential part of any job application CV. Whether you put yours before or after your skills section is up to you, but it’s best to place it in the first quarter of your CV so potential employers can find it easily.

Recruiters and hiring managers want to know what you contributed to your current and previous employers, so they look for statements on your curriculum vitae that describe your accomplishments. Showcase yours in a bulleted list of three to five job-specific achievements for every job you list in your CV employment history section. 

Studies show that 34% of hiring managers ignore CVs that do not show measurable results, so quantify your professional achievements on your curriculum vitae to make the best impression.

When you make a CV work history section, list current and past jobs in reverse-chronological order, starting with the most recent position.

In addition to accomplishments, a CV work history section must include:

  • Company names
  • Dates of employment
  • Job title

Notice how this example of a CV job history entry for a physics professor details specific activities they performed and highlights the impact of those activities rather than simply listing job responsibilities. Prospective employers look for numbers on a resume to show the effect of a job applicant’s work.

For example:

Adjunct Physics Professor

Drexel University, Department of Physics, Philadelphia, PA

September 2015 – Present

  • Develop lab activities for 25 students in three different undergraduate physics classes ranging from beginner to intermediate.
  • As an honors advisor, guide 15 third-year students through thesis development and research opportunities.
  • Created five lab manuals for Physics 101, 102 and 201.
  • Led 20 undergraduate students in an award-winning research study on modern advances in radiation therapy.

A recent study shows that action verbs can boost your chances of getting an interview by 140%. Use them throughout your CV to impress potential employers.

Examples of CV action words

  • Peruse
  • Mediate
  • Articulate
  • Interface
  • Convince
  • Negotiate
  • Critique
  • Arbitrate
  • Counsel
  • Motivate
  • Mentor
  • Collaborate
  • Resolve
  • Inspire
  • Encourage
  • Listen
  • Assist
  • Help
  • Relate
  • Interpret 
  • Liaise
  • Translate
  • Guide
  • Interact
  • Express
  • Correspond
  • Determine
  • Evaluate
  • Formulate
  • Interpret
  • Measure
  • Predict
  • Survey
  • Summarize
  • Examine

STEP 7

Make a CV education section

Like the skills and work history sections, you can present the education section of your CV in any order on your resume, depending on your experience level and field of study.

For example, suppose you are a medical doctor with several years of experience. In that case, you might place your CV education section after your skills and education sections. Still, if you are applying for your first post-graduate assistant professor position, it makes better sense to show your education credentials before anything else.

Display the name of the school or institution, the degree you earned, and the date you graduated. If you have multiple degrees or studied at more than one institution, list them in reverse chronological order, with the most recent school first. Provide your GPA if you got a 4.0 or higher, and note academic honors, awards, grants, scholarships, or fellowships.

Here’s an example of the CV education section for someone seeking employment as a corporate attorney.

For example:

Juris Doctorate University of California, Berkeley  Berkeley, CA  2012-2014

Master of Business Administration  Northwestern University  Chicago, Illinois

2010-2012

Bachelor of Arts in English   University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 2004-2008

STEP 8

Create a CV education section

Like the skills and work history sections, you can present the education section of your CV in any order on your resume, depending on your experience level and field of study.

For example, suppose you are a medical doctor with several years of experience. In that case, you might place your CV education section after your skills and education sections. Still, if you are applying for your first post-graduate assistant professor position, it makes better sense to show your education credentials before anything else.

Display the name of the school or institution, the degree you earned and the date you graduated. If you have multiple degrees or studied at more than one institution, then list them in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent school first. Provide your GPA if you got a 4.0 or higher, and note scholastic honors, awards grants, scholarships, or fellowships.

Here’s an example of the CV education section for someone seeking employment as a corporate attorney.

For example:

Juris Doctorate University of California, Berkeley  Berkeley, CA  2012-2014

Master of Business Administration  Northwestern University  Chicago, Illinois

2010-2012

Bachelor of Arts in English   University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 2004-2008

STEP 9

Create optional CV sections

Typical optional sections on a curriculum vitae include:

Certifications

Not all professions require certificates or licenses, but if you have them, create a section on your CV and list them in reverse chronological order from the date you received them.

Example of current certification:

Notary Public, Michigan

Michigan Department of State. 

Issued May 2021

Renewal date: May 2024

Awards and Honors CV section

When writing a CV, you may add a section to emphasize the awards you have received throughout your education and career. This section should include dean’s list recognitions, academic or professional distinctions, leadership, and volunteer or community awards.

List Awards and honors in reverse chronological order, formatted with bullets, and include the name of the award, issuing organization, and date you received the award, like this example:

Heroes of Chemistry Award, American Chemical Society, 2024

National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, 2020

Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry, American Chemical Society, 2018

Publications

If you have published articles, book chapters, research papers, essays, stories, or books, showcase them in a separate section of your CV — they can help you stand out!

Here’s how to create a CV publications section:

Include the title of the work, the publication name, and the publication date. List your publications in reverse chronological order and let them shine in a bulleted list. Research how the company or institution you apply to formats their publications or follow the appropriate formatting guidelines for your industry.

Medical job seekers typically use AMA style.

Academic papers often follow MLA style.

Most technical papers use the IEEE style.

Example of how to make a resume awards section:

Awards

George Polk Award for National Reporting (2020)

Conscience-in-Media Award (2018)

Clio Awards (2016)

Volunteer experience on a CV

Hiring managers like to see volunteer experience on a curriculum vitae because it shows you are well-rounded, community-minded, and willing to go the extra mile.

When writing a CV volunteer experience section, format it exactly like your work experience section, with the most recent experience first, your volunteer title, the name and location of the organization, and the date you volunteered.

For example:

Attending physician, World Pediatric Project, Guatemala City, Guatemala, 2024

Lead Clinician, Clinic by the Bay, San Francisco, CA, 2019. 

STEP 10

Proofread and revise your curriculum vitae

Whatever you do, don’t ignore this step! Studies show that approximately 77% of hiring managers reject CVs with typos or grammatical mistakes, and it would be a shame to miss out on a job if you have all the desired qualifications but misspell a word.

Proofread your CV for a job application more than once, and have a trusted friend or family member review it and make necessary revisions before sending it to a potential employer.

Bulletproof your curriculum vitae by ensuring it is formatted correctly and includes the correct information.

CV formatting tips

Every detail matters when making a CV. These tips will help ensure your CV is formatted correctly.

  • Set margins to 1 inch on all sides of your document.
  • Choose an appropriate font type and size and stick to it throughout your CV. Good choices are Arial Calibri and Helvetica in 12-point size.
  • Ensure proper spacing between sections of your document. The best practice is to use a single space between text and double spacing after section headings.
  • Left-align your curriculum vitae text.
  • Use bullet points to display your skills and accomplishments.

STEP 11

Save your CV

Making a CV is about more than how you write your CV and organize its sections. A polished job application CV means you must also name your document professionally and save it in an appropriate file format.

We recommend the following formula to save your CV:

Your Name-Job title-CV-Company Name-Date

Read the job description for the best file type for your job application CV. If a file type is not requested, then doc or .docx are safe bets for your CV file type because most ATS can read Microsoft Word files, and most companies prefer them.

PRO TIP

Put your name at the front of your CV file name because it makes it easy for hiring managers to remember you when sorting through hundreds of CVs for a job application.

More CV examples

Some learn best by example. Refer to these CV examples for guidance when writing a CV for a job.

Academic

Lecturer CV ExampleLecturer CV Example 1

Assistant Professor CV Example Page1Assistant Professor CV Example Page2

Medical

Pediatrician CV Example Page1Pediatrician CV Example Page2

Dialysis Technician CV ExampleDialysis Technician CV Example 1

Law

Defense Attorney CV Example Page1Defense Attorney CV Example Page2

Paralegal CV ExampleParalegal CV Example 1

Expert CV-writing tips to help you land the job

Here are some of our secrets for making CV writing easier.

  • Create a new curriculum vitae for every job application and customize it for your target job. The best way to do this is to use keywords or phrases in the job description and adjust your CV template to organize your qualifications based on the potential employer’s requirements.   
  • Find time to dedicate solely to your CV. Writing a resume is pretty straightforward, but making a resume for each job that rises above the competition takes time and focused effort.
  • Write and don’t stop to perfect your CV along the way. When you get it all down, step away for a few hours and return to it with fresh eyes to refine your resume writing.
  • Include only relevant experience and skills throughout your CV.

Common CV writing mistakes to avoid

Don’t ruin your chances of getting a great job by making one of these common mistakes.

  • Grammatical mistakes, typos, formatting blunders, and spelling errors. These mistakes are some of the most common mistakes people make. Avoid them by proofreading your CV more than once.
  • Adding images, photographs, charts, and graphs. Most ATS cannot read images and will reject a CV for a job if it has pictures, charts, or graphs.
  • Bad formatting and unprofessional fonts. A CV template will ensure your formatting is precise and your fonts are professional.
  • Focusing on responsibilities instead of achievements when writing a CV work history section. Hiring managers want to see what you accomplished, not your daily tasks. Show them you’re willing to go above and beyond and provide numbers to emphasize your impact.
  • Not matching your qualifications to the job. Surveys show that 63% of recruiters prefer customized CVs, and 61% of hiring managers say that a tailored resume improves a job candidate’s chances of getting hired. These numbers indicate creating a custom CV for each job application is worth it.

Write a cover letter to complement your CV

Now you know how to make a CV and create an attractive document with a CV template. Ready to hit send? 

Not so fast!

You need more than a polished curriculum vitae to get a job interview. To beat the competition, you need a strong cover letter to complement your CV for a job application.

Cover letters are vital to job applications because they show potential employers the person behind the job qualifications. They allow you to tell employers why you are interested in the job and why you’re the best match for them. Plus, they let you explain employment gaps and career changes. 

We can show you how to write a great cover letter with our professional cover letter examples. When you’re ready, choose a cover letter template and use our Cover Letter Builder to effortlessly make a professional cover letter.

Now you’re ready to send your job application!

Did you know? About 53% of recruiters prefer candidates with a cover letter and CV.

How to write a CV key takeaways

7 Key Takeaways

  1. A CV does not follow a specific format and can be any length.
  2. The best way to prepare for writing a CV is to collect critical information, such as employers’ names and addresses, matching skills, and measurable achievements from your career.
  3. Customize a new CV for every job you target.
  4. Include keywords and phrases from the job description throughout your CV.
  5. Use a professionally designed CV template and CV Maker to build a polished resume in minutes.
  6. Download a CV example that matches your industry for inspiration.
  7. Always pair a complementary cover letter with your curriculum vitae.

Key Takeaway Bg


How to make a CV: FAQ

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