Want to quickly land a rewarding new job in your field? Learn how to write a CV (curriculum vitae) that shows the hiring manager or committee that you’re a qualified candidate. But first, let’s talk about CV formatting.
Formatting a professional CV is hard work, but you’ll be glad you put in the effort when the interview invitations start landing in your inbox. Read the following sections to ensure your CV format is optimized for an efficient and successful job hunt:
- The 3 CV formats
- How to format an academic CV
- Standard CV margin and font sizes
- How to save your CV (PDF or Word?)
The first step to formatting a CV is verifying whether you need an academic CV, job-seeking CV, or resume. Here’s how to decide which CV layout to use:
Academic CV (teaching-focused): If you’re applying to a university teaching position, use academic CV formatting. CVs have no page limit, so you can include all of your publications, research, and other academic qualifications.
Academic CV (research-focused): Are you applying to a research position at a university or a lab? Use academic CV formatting, but begin listing your research experience on the first page.
Job-seeking CV (or “resume”): When you apply to jobs outside of academia and the sciences, write a resume that proves your qualifications in 1–2 pages. Many job seekers get confused about the difference between job-seeking CVs and resumes, but they’re the same. The confusion stems from employers in the US preferring the term “resume,” while employers in many other countries use “CV.”
Below are three CV templates that use professional CV formatting. The first two samples are academic CVs, and the third is a job-seeking CV:
Sample 1: Academic CV (teaching-focused)
This sample’s organization emphasizes university teaching experience. Use a similar format to apply for a lecturer or professor position.
The sample is adapted from the original 24-page CV of Dr. G. Richard Scott, a Professor of Physical Anthropology at the University of Nevada with nearly five decades of experience. (For privacy, the contact details are made up.)
Academic CV Format (Page 1)
Academic CV Format (Page 2)
Academic CV Format (Page 3)
Academic CV Format (Page 4)
Sample 2: Academic CV (research-focused)
This sample rearranges Dr. Scott’s information to emphasize his research experience. Follow this CV example to apply for an academic or scientific position:
Research-Focused Academic CV (Page 1)
Research-Focused Academic CV (Page 2)
Research-Focused Academic CV (Page 3)
Research-Focused Academic CV (Page 4)
Sample 3: Job-seeking CV
Use this sample CV to apply for non-academic jobs, such as electrical engineering or sales positions:
The standard CV format in academia includes seven sections:
Here’s how to format each section of your academic CV:
Your CV’s header should follow the below format:
- Your name goes at the top, formatted in bold text and set in a larger font size than you use for the rest of the text on your CV. Making your name stand out helps the hiring manager notice your application and then easily find it again.
- Your mailing address can go below your name, but it’s not compulsory these days.
- Next, add your phone number.
- Finally, list your professional email address.
- Optionally, add links to relevant online profiles.
Here’s a sample CV header designed to impress academic or scientific employers:
Format your CV education section by listing all your degree titles, using one of these formats:
Format option 1:
Graduation date, degree title, institution name, institution location
GPA, honors (optional)
Format option 2:
Institution name, institution location, graduation date
GPA, honors (optional)
If you’re a recent graduate applying for your first professorship or research position, adding your GPA (if it’s 3.5 or higher) and any honors you received is a good idea. If you already have university teaching experience, there’s no need to include your GPA and honors.
Here’s an example of a properly formatted CV education section:
Start each heading in your work experience section with the name of the institution or company, followed by your job title and employment dates.
Under each heading, list your most relevant accomplishments — supporting them with hard numbers when possible — in a few bullet points. Here’s what a work experience section looks like when you use professional CV formatting:
If you’re writing a CV that covers a long career, you can also list your work experience without bullet points to highlight your career’s progression:
Adding research experience to a CV isn’t an exact science. If you have limited experience, you could include research in your work experience section, following the same formatting as you used for your employment history.
However, if you’ve worked on many projects and want to highlight relevant qualifications for a research position, create a unique section for your research experience.
Here are two examples of how to format research on your CV:
Here’s a CV publications section format example that uses APA formatting:
Here’s an example of a CV publications section that uses MLA formatting:
If you have honors or awards (including grants and scholarships) to list on your CV, follow this format:
The title of the honor, the name of the awarding organization, and the date you received it
Here’s an example of a professionally formatted CV honors and awards section:
Depending on your field of work and what job you’re applying for, you may also need to include the following optional sections on your CV. Click on each section to view a correctly formatted sample:
Set your margins between ½” and 1” on all sides. Margins that are too big squeeze your information together, making it hard to read. Margins that are too small lead to less white space that makes your CV appear cluttered.
The best font size for an easy-to-read CV is between 10.5 and 12 points. If you need to reduce pages on your job-seeking CV, using a 10.5 or 11-point font size is often the best choice.
Submit a PDF CV to the hiring manager whenever possible. Here’s why:
- PDFs preserve your formatting: If the hiring manager opens your CV in an old version of Word, there may be formatting issues that make it hard to read.
- PDFs don’t include red underlines: Word’s spell-check function redlines words and phrases it doesn’t know (e.g., names of people and places). When you save your CV as a PDF, the red lines disappear, making it easier to read.
Although it’s usually best to submit a PDF CV, there are instances when you should send a Word file instead: