Resumes

How to Write a CV That Stands out to Employers

Quick Navigation:


If you’re applying for a position in the research, academic or medical field, you may be asked to submit a curriculum vitae (CV). This allows employers or hiring managers to view your detailed job experience, skills, qualifications and education to determine what you may bring to the company. In this article, learn more about what a CV is, how to write a CV, and review a template and an example that demonstrate a proper CV format. 

What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a document that summarizes your skills and qualifications for a job. Similar to a resume, a CV lists your experience and skills in a document that is more detailed and specific. The term ‘curriculum vitae’ is Latin for ‘course of life.’ 

Many candidates applying for an academic, research or medical-related position may be asked to showcase their previous knowledge and education by submitting a CV. 

Here are common elements you can include in a CV: 

  • Contact information 
  • Any foreign languages you speak 
  • Work experience
  • Volunteer experience
  • Current or previous education 
  • Relevant computer or research skills 
  • General hard or soft skills
  • Awards and honors 
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Memberships or associations 
  • Certifications or licenses
  • Research experience or fieldwork
  • Teaching experience
  • Published works
  • Grants and fellowships
  • References

A CV is typically provided to an employer to prove that you’re properly qualified for a position and contain all the necessary strengths and skills they are searching for. 

How to write a CV

When building a CV, you should include each piece of information that the company or organization is searching for. 

Follow these steps to write a strong CV: 

1. First, review the job posting

As you build your CV, you want to ensure that you’re including information relevant to what the employer is looking for. As you read the job posting, note the skills, qualifications, education and experience they list as required or preferred. Keep each of these in mind while you build your CV. Including these specific keywords listed in the job posting can help you stand out as a qualified candidate who meets the requirements.

2. Second, list your education, certifications, associations, skills and other qualifications

Your unique experiences can be some of the most important elements on your CV as they prove your qualifications for the position. When listing your education, you should list your most recent degree first, followed by any later degrees. List the school, location and the degree you received. 

You can also include any certifications relevant to the position. For example, if you’re applying for a teaching position, list any teaching certifications you’ve received. Similarly, list any relevant associations or memberships you’ve been a part of. After carefully reviewing the preferred and required skills on the job posting, list any skills you have that are mentioned in the job posting.

3. Third, choose a standard font and format for your CV

Once you’ve gathered all the information you’d like included in your CV, you can plan fonts and standard formatting methods. Common font styles include Helvetica, Times New Roman, Bookman Old Style or Arial. Keep the font size at 12 point because this is a standard size that is easy to read and scan. Ensure your margin sizes are between 1 to 1.5 inches to give you enough white space and reduce any clutter.

4. Fourth, create your sections and input your information

Build each section and label them with the same consistent heading font type, size and style throughout the page. Place your contact information at the top of the page listing your name, email address and phone number. 

Make sure all of your information flows well and remains consistent with the same style and sizes throughout. Proofread your document for spelling errors, grammatical issues, consistency and accuracy. 

CV template

When creating a CV, you should include all of the information relevant to the job posting. Remain specific in your experience and list skills related to your desired position. 

Use this template as a guide to help you write an effective CV: 

[Your name] 
[Physical address]
[Phone number]
[Email address] 

Education

[Most recent degree]
[College or university name. City, State]
[Years of attendance or date of graduation]

[Subsequent degree]
[College or university name. City, State]
[Years of attendance or date of graduation]

Work Experience 

[Company #1 name]
[Location of job] 
[Job title #1] 

[Years worked] 

  • [Job duties and responsibilities 1] 
  • [Job duties and responsibilities 2] 
  • [Job duties and responsibilities 3]

[Company #2 name]
[Location of job] 
[Job title #2] 

[Years worked] 

  • [Job duties and responsibilities 1] 
  • [Job duties and responsibilities 2] 
  • [Job duties and responsibilities 3]

Academic Experience 

[Job title as a professor or academic instructor].  [Name of institution]. [City, State]. [Date range]

Research Experience 

[Academic subject you researched ]. [Name of institution]. [City, State]. [Date range]

Skills

  • [Relevant skill 1] 
  • [Relevant skill 2] 
  • [Relevant skill 3] 
  • [Relevant skill 4]
  • [Relevant skill 5]

Grants and Fellowships 

[Relevant scholarship or grant title, Year earned]

[Details about the scholarship or grant] 

Publications

[Name of published work].  [Where it was published.]  [Date published]

Professional Associations or Organizations 

[Relevant association or organization, Years active]

Certifications and Licenses 

[Certification or license relevant to the position, Year earned]

CV example

A correct CV should have consistent formatting throughout the entire document. Include an appropriate amount of white space on the document to keep it well-organized and free of clutter. 

Here is an example of a CV that you can refer to when building your own: 

Taylor Adams
123 N 8th Street
Boston, MA 02101
555-555-5555
taylor.adams@email.com

Education

Doctor of Public Health, Health Services Research
Boston University. Boston, MA
August 2018 – Present

Master of Public Health, Public Policy
The George Washington University. Washington, D.C.
August 2016 – May 2018 

Bachelor of Science, Biology.  
The University of Maine. Portland, ME
August 2012 – May 2016

Work Experience 

United Mercy Hospital 
Lab Research Assistant
May 2015 – Present

  • Build and test hypotheses to determine results of treatments using specific medications 
  • Take lab data from experiments, evaluate the data and build a presentation based on results
  • Clean and prepare labs for researchers to conduct experiments

Academic Experience 

Assistant Professor, Boston University, Boston, MA August 2019 – Present

Research Experience 

Policy Development Dissertation, Boston, MA, September 2018  

Skills

  • Advanced organizational skills
  • Effective time-management abilities
  • Strong attention to detail 

Grants and Fellowships

MU Research Fellowship Award, 2014

Received a $2,000 fellowship award to fund my senior research project. Awarded to three biology students per year.  

Publications

‘The Rise and Fall of the Public Healthcare System’. Public Policy Today. March 2019

Professional Associations or Organizations 

American Society for Public Policy, August 2013 – Present 

Certifications and Licenses 

Certified Lab Technician, May 2015