Writing A Curriculum Vitae (CV)


The term 'curriculum vitae' (CV) is often misinterpreted as just another word for 'résumé'. However, the curriculum vitae is a specific type of document used in a limited number of contexts.

The main purpose of a CV is to provide evidence of your expertise in a given area by comprehensively listing research, teaching and administrative experience. Its focus is on the past and thus will lengthen over time.

CVs are expected when applying for:

  • faculty positions in universities or colleges;
  • professional positions (medicine, law, etc);
  • research positions (post-doctoral fellowships, governmental research agencies)

An effective CV will reflect the priorities of the desired employer. The wording of the job posting and the internal structure of department or organization will indicate what is considered important in that context. By making inquiries through networking, candidates can access this information to assist them in effectively presenting their experience in a way that seems to 'fit' with a given department.

Common Elements


Name and contact information should be included at the top of the CV. If the candidate has a campus address, it should be included as well so this affiliation is clear. Personal information such as age, marital status, race, sex, gender identity, ethnicity or sexual orientation should be omitted. Citizenship, where it could be useful, may be included, e.g. when studying abroad, dual citizenship.


List degrees in chronological order, starting with the most recent. Usually, the dissertation or thesis title and name of supervisor would be included with each entry. An abstract of your research should be printed on a separate sheet of paper if it is to be included. In some fields, it is common to include a small précis of the dissertation in this section. Program faculty can provide information on such norms.

Education that is not directly relevant to the position sought, may be omitted. Supplementary training e.g. University Teaching Practicum, may be included, if relevant, under a separate heading such as 'Professional Training'.

Awards and Scholarships

If there are less than three items that come under this heading, include them under the appropriate entry in the Education section. Include dates, detail of the selection process (for internal awards) or the amount awarded. Scholarships that were offered, but not accepted, may also be included, but should be clearly differentiated from those accepted.

Research/Teaching Areas

Teaching and research interests may be included as subsections under one heading e.g. 'Areas of Specialization' or as two separate headings. Research areas include areas where expertise has been established through publications, research, or teaching. These areas tend to be fairly broad in scope. Teaching areas include topics covered by comprehensive exams, research or previous teaching experience. They can be targeted to the teaching interests of a given department and are usually more specific than research interests. Neither list should exceed five entries and should be ordered according to preference.

Teaching Experience

This section should be arranged chronologically and include all full-time, part-time and adjunct teaching experience. Depending on the amount of experience listed, it may be necessary to subcategorize the entries according to area/year/position, etc. As teaching responsibilities can vary considerably between institutions, it can be useful to provide explanations detailing the specifics of each position.

e.g. Teaching Assistant, (sessional, 1999-2002)
Introduction to Linguistics

Designed and delivered one-hour tutorials to classes of 30 first year students introducing the fundamental principles of language production including phonological, morphological, syntactic and discoursal descriptions. Co-designed exams and marked all tests and assignments.

Research Experience

Where the candidate has formal research experience (e.g. field, clinical or lab experience), this may be included in a separate section. These entries may be listed chronologically, by type, by location or by another categorization system that is meaningful. Include position held, location, date and enough details so that the context of each experience is clear.


This section should be reserved for work that has been published. Work that has been accepted for publication in writing can be included in an appropriately marked sub heading and then dated 'forthcoming'. When an article or book is still in the process of being reviewed, it can be listed 'under review' or referred to as an example of research potential within one of the reference letters. Works that have been submitted for publication should not be included on a CV. If the list is substantial, chunk it into smaller sections e.g. Books, Articles, Reviews etc., each arranged in reverse chronological order.


If there are presentations where the candidate was an invited speaker, it is good to note this either by listing them under a separate sub-heading if there are more than two, or by adding the word 'Invited' in brackets beside the entry. Include the title of the paper, name of the event, date, location and organizing body, if applicable. Again, each section should be arranged in reverse chronological order.

Administrative Experience

Search committees like to see an indication of a candidate's experience and willingness to contribute to the life of the institution. This section provides an area to include committee work, elected positions, executive experience and other indicators or initiative and leadership. Entries in this section should include dates, descriptions of position held, names of committees and any other relevant data that would help a stranger understand the significance of that experience.

Professional Affiliations

Current memberships to relevant professional associations can be listed with dates indicating length of membership.


A list of forthcoming references provides the search committee with a means of determining when the file is complete. Material being sent from a dossier service should be indicated as such.


  • The Career Centre has a non-circulating library with a range of books with examples of CVs. Photocopier is available for use with Scott Library swipe card
  • Some departments keep copies of the CVs of faculty on hand for reference purposes - or post them on the web
  • Some departments permit an appointed graduate student to participate on hiring committees - this is an excellent experience and can provide valuable insight to the hiring process
  • The Internet is a rich source of information on writing CVs. These sites are particularly good: