A well-written and properly formatted CV, or curriculum vitae, can help you stand out from other candidates. A clear and easy-to-scan layout will help hiring managers quickly discover your qualifications.
In this article, we offer steps for laying out a CV, including an example and additional tips to land an interview.
What is a CV?
A CV is a resume-like document that displays your qualifications to employers during the hiring process. You may need to submit a CV instead of a resume if you want a career in a certain field. For example, academic and medical professionals usually submit CVs since they include detailed information about their publications and research.
A CV typically includes:
- Summary or objective
- Work experience
- Additional sections like publications, presentations, research and licenses
A CV is different from a resume because it focuses on the additional sections as much as work and academic experience. A CV is usually longer than a resume because of the additional sections, with some CVs spanning three or more pages. The length of a CV makes your layout especially important.
How to lay out a CV
Because a CV is longer than a resume, adding your information in the right place can make it easier for hiring managers to read. For instance, placing key qualifications in easy-to-find sections helps employers scan your CV to quickly determine if you’re a good candidate.
Follow these steps when laying out a CV:
1. Start with your header
Add the following items to your header:
- Your full name
- Address (or city and state)
- Phone number
- Email address
Consider making your header a slightly larger font size to help it stand out to hiring managers. Your name should be the largest font, with a slightly smaller font for your contact information.
2. Create a summary or objective
A summary or objective can briefly describe your best qualities as a candidate and encourage the hiring manager to keep reading your resume. A summary details your previous accomplishments and experience, while an objective focuses more on what you want to achieve by working with the company. Summaries and objectives are between one to three sentences, and you can place one below your contact information.
3. Add your education
When adding your education, start with your most recent degree or schoolwork completed. Include the institution’s name and degree title, as applicable, plus location. The year you earned a degree is optional after five years.
If you earned a degree in the past five years, you can include any awards or organizations you belonged to, especially if you don’t have much work experience yet. Consider adding your thesis or dissertation if you earned a postgraduate degree.
4. Detail your work experience
Just like your education section, you can add your most recent work experience first. Add your job title, the name of the company, its location and the dates you were employed for each role. Under this information, create a bulleted list of general responsibilities and achievements. You can add about five bullet points to give hiring managers a basic idea of your performance at the job.
When you list your responsibilities and achievements, try to include numbers to quantify your accomplishments. For example, you could write, “Handled and resolved over 15 customer queries per day.” Using metrics can also show employers the type of workload you’re comfortable with or specific skills you’ve mastered.
5. List your skills
A bulleted list of your skills follows your experience. To keep the interest of the hiring manager, try to match your skills with those listed in the job description. For example, if the job opening lists excellent customer service skills as a requirement and you have this qualification, include it at the top of your list.
Another way to organize your skills is to list them in order of strength. Place your strongest skills at the top of the list since these are the ones the hiring manager is most likely to read and remember. When they ask about them during an interview, you can elaborate on your best skills, making you a more memorable candidate.
6. Include additional sections
Depending on the job you’re applying for, you may need to include several additional sections. Clearly label your sections, like “Publications” or “Memberships,” then add the basic elements needed. The items you include in each section depend on the content. For example, publications usually follow a very specific format, while licenses and memberships typically include simple information like the awarding body and specific title.
CV layout tips
When comparing CVs, employers may be more likely to choose one that has a clean layout since it can show the candidate’s attention to detail. Consider these tips when laying out your CV:
Use a professional font. A professional font, like Times New Roman or Arial, can make your CV easier to read and leave a positive impression on employers. Use a font size between 10 and 12 points so your text is clear.
Include only relevant sections. Review the company’s website and job description to determine the sections to include on your CV. Since CVs can have several pages, it’s important to add the most important sections to keep the hiring manager’s attention.
Organize your CV sections by importance. Since you’ll likely use your CV for academic- or research-based positions, you’ll probably want to start with your academic experience. However, you could start with your work experience or another section if they’re more important for the job. Consider the position you’re applying for, and order your sections accordingly.
You can use this template when creating your own CV:
Summary [or Objective]
[In one to three sentences, describe your best qualifications or your work goals. Include the name of the position and the company to show you personalized your CV.]
[Degree] | [Awarding school]
[Year obtained], [City, state of institution]
[Details about achievements or dissertation]
[Job title] | [Company]
[Dates worked], [City, state]
[Add about five bullet points detailing your responsibilities and achievements]
[Add a bulleted list of about eight skills]
[Add as many sections as you need to meet the job qualifications]