Writing Good Curriculum Vitae

How to prepare Curriculum Vitae

Writing Good Curriculum Vitae
Writing Good Curriculum Vitae


How to prepare Curriculum Vitae 

Curriculum Vitae                                   

The curriculum vitae commonly referred to as a CV, Vita, or Vitae, is a detailed biographical description of one’s educational and work background. It differs from a résumé, a one-page description of one’s work experience. and educational in length and detail.

The origin of the term curriculum vitae is Latin and means “the course of one’s life or career.” As such, a CV includes detailed information regarding one’s academic coursework, professional experience, publications, and so on.

The curriculum vitae, long in use among students in higher education for admission to graduate and professional schools, as well as among applicants for employment such as those in research, teaching, and management.

Depending upon your stage in career, the CV and its requirement changes accordingly as for :

  • Freshers
  • Continuing graduates
  • Those who need to prepare a new CV
  • Those who need to update current CV
  • Professionals planning a career transition

While there is no as such standard format for CV. But in principle, it must contain some fundamental attributes and that sets some standards. We shall be discussing these attributes later in the section. 

Some international agencies like – World Bank and other professional agencies ask for sharing proposals with CVs of subject matter specialists in a particular format. There, the emphasis is more to understand clients’ capabilities related to the task.

Here, we are going to understand irrespective of your career stage, the points that should be taken care while framing your CV. It is like the mirror to your career pathway and therefore, the most important document of your life.

As mentioned before, CV is a more detailed summary of your Educational and Professional life compared to similar documents with name Resume, Biodata, Portfolio which is shorter summary.

CV writing is again a dynamic process as every day you are learning many things. It should be updated regularly. I would prefer preparing, something I call MASTER CV. Master CV includes everything about yourself. All the smaller details that you can categorize systematically and update frequently. 

I would rather prefer to keep Master CV on Cloud space – Like Google Drive or Dropbox etc. Once required to submit to some agency – it can be for new job or for proposal to a client, download your Master CV in Word file format. Then edit all the non-relevant matter which doesn’t suit to the particular agency you are sending.  You can Highlight more relevant ones. Thus, CV can be made ready as per client in few minutes. 

When to Use a CV

CV is most of the time required particularly in Asian and Europe context in preference to Resume for employment, research, and academia. So if you are applying for a position in corporate, research or academics a detailed information is required about the candidate. Although, the name Resume and Curriculum Vitae are used interchangeably along with Biodata most of the time the details required are actually Curriculum Vitae format. Thus CV is most of the time preferred unless it is specified to share short Resume (2-page maximum).

Steps for preparing Curriculum Vitae

Getting started – As mentioned by Acy L. Jackson (2003), CV writing is an emotional process of reflecting about yourself. You have to reflect with all highs and lows in your life. A simple exercise modified version of as suggested by  Acy L. Jackson (2003) to incorporate emotional dimension in CV is –

  • Describe your feelings as you begin this process
  • List down your strengths and the context in which you displayed each strength, it can be your technical skill, managerial, teamwork, as well as emotional strength.
  • It is essential that you confront any uneasiness, discomfort, or negative feelings you have about
    your educational background and work experience. Write these feelings down and then set them
    aside. Do not dwell on them.
  • Now, ask yourself why you are writing your curriculum vitae.

Identifying Competencies and Skills – Next step would be to your competencies and skills. List down, better categories your strengths – Creativity, Commitment, Enthusiasm, Imagination and your Intellectual maturity. Similarly, skills needs to be what you know, a technique – and to what degree – beginner, semi-advance, advance. It can also be reflected as – Master (Master of), Proficient in, strong (sense of).

List your Educational Credentials – In this step, you need to provide information regarding the degrees, licenses, and certificates that you have earned. Most of the time anti-chronological order is preferred with latest degree at the top. For Graduate Degree (Doctoral) – specialization to be given, while, Graduate Degree (Master’s) – Major and Minor to be given.

With above draft work, now lets see important components of CV. The following list comprises the major components, or defining characteristics, of a CV:

  •   Professional/Career/Vocational/Research Objectives
  •   Education
  •   Coursework
  •   Honors/Achievements/Awards/Kudos
  •   Thesis/Dissertation Abstract
  •   Research Interests
  •   Research and/or Laboratory Experience
  •   Teaching Interests and Experience
  •   Instrumentation Experience
  •   Specialized Skills
  •   Publications/Presentations/Works-in-Progress
  •   Work Experience
  •   Professional Associations/Learned/Scientific Societies
  •   Background
  •   Community Service
  •   Co-curricular Activities
  •   Interests
  •   Travel
  •   References/Letters of Recommendation

Use the following guidelines to prepare the initial draft of your curriculum vitae.

1. Do not feel compelled to complete all the component one sitting. Begin with those that request routine information and then move on to those that might require reflection and detailed organization.

2. Initially, focus solely on content. Describe experiences in detail and later refine them through careful revision.

3. Ignore any overlap among components because some duplication or redundancies will be eliminated as you work through the drafts. Others can be edited or revised in consultation with your academic advisor,professor, or mentor.

SAMPLE Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae -1

Reference :

How to Prepare Your Curriculum Vitae (2003) by Acy L. Jackson and C. Kathleen Geckeis, McGraw-Hills.

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