Anatomy of a CV

Core Sections

The following sections are generally considered to be standard on a professional CV. If you are creating a CV for the first time or are making updates to your CV, it is suggested that you include these primary sections.
Your full name, address, telephone number, and email address should appear at the top of your CV. List a URL if you have one (such as professional website or LinkedIn page). Since CVs span multiple pages, you should list your first and last name and page numbers as a header and footer on all following pages. Do not include any personal information such as date of birth, sex, marital status, race, or citizenship status.
List your education in reverse chronological order (most current first, going back in time). Include the degree(s) you earned or are currently pursuing; your major(s)/minor(s); your date of graduation or anticipated graduation date; and the name, city and state of the institution. Advanced degrees including a master's or a PhD should be listed first, followed by your undergraduate degree. The title of your dissertation, thesis, or project and advisor should also be included in your education section paired with its appropriate degree.
List experience that demonstrates your knowledge, accomplishments, skills, and strengths. Experience is generally listed in reverse chronological order. Keep in mind that every work and academic experience you have do not need to go under one general "Experience" section, but rather a CV should include separate experience categories. Possible sections include research, teaching, service and volunteer, field, industry, and postdoctoral work. While there are many possible experience sections, the two most commonly used are teaching and research.
  • Teaching Experience - The Teaching Experience section of your CV should detail any teaching assistant, teaching associate, lecturer, instructor, or tutoring roles you have held. At a minimum, you should include the institution, department, course(s), and your title. If you have experience developing assignments, curricula, etc. for courses you were involved in, you can include more detail as appropriate.
  • Research Experience - When listing experience, include the institution, department, dates, name of the research advisor or principal investigator, and a description of the work. The research experience section is often accompanied by a statement of research as a separate document. Refer to "Supplementary Documents" below for guidelines on a statement of research.
Publications should use a standard citation format. APA or MLA format are recommended. However, you should review standards for your industry. In the case of publications with multiple authors, you should distinguish your name using a small, consistent formatting adjustment, such as underlining or bolding your name. List the status of any publications including those invited or submitted for publication. Publications can be divided into subsections by the type of publication, including referenced journal articles, book chapters, reviews, and abstracts.
Similar to your publications section, presentations should be listed using a standard format. Each listing should include the full list of presenters, presentation title, conference title, and conference location and dates. In the case of multiple presenters, you should distinguish your name using a small, consistent formatting adjustment, such as underlining or bolding your name. Presentations can be divided into subsections by the type including oral or poster presentations as your accomplishments grow.
List both academic (Dean's List, honor societies, scholarships awarded, etc.) and professional honors (workplace awards including employee of the month, staff recognition, etc.). Include the name or title of the honor, the year in which you received it, and the recognizing institution or organization. If the nature of the award is not clear from the title, you should provide a description of its purpose and relevance. It is acceptable to list honors and awards that you received in both undergraduate and post-graduate studies. While conventions allow more length on a CV, you should practice restraint when listing your honors and awards (i.e – it may not be necessary to list every single honor and award you've ever received; instead, list the more current and/or relevant of accomplishments).
Describe any workshops, symposia, certificates, or licensing that you may have. List the certification name, licensing status, and date of issue.
List all industry-specific professional organizations, groups, or offices held. List past and present membership and include dates of membership.
This section should detail any task force, committee, department/university groups, or field-related volunteer work in which you have served. Specify if you held a distinguished role such as chairperson, co-chair, or any other leadership position.

Optional Sections

Since CVs are highly customizable and depend on your own unique background and accomplishments, there are a variety of additional sections that you may include. Review the sections below and incorporate into your CV as appropriate.

List relevant skills that may be important to a potential employer or organization. Categories may include laboratory, computer, or technical skills. This section is less of a priority on CVs since they are typically accomplishment driven rather than skill driven.
List any acquired language skills, indicating your level of competency and years you have spoken them. You can also mention any particular travel experience that you have had.
Your activities are a good way to highlight those skills that are difficult to quantify but still very important to potential employers, e.g. leadership, ability to work in a team, and time management. Organizational memberships and elected offices can also demonstrate those qualities. List the activity, your participation, if significant, (e.g. president, group leader), and the dates that you participated. Start with your most recent activities and move in reverse chronological order.
This section should primarily be focused on professional and academic hobbies and avocations. However, on a CV it is not uncommon to detail a variety of activities including cultural, personal, social, community, and/or athletic.
It is acceptable to list at least three professional references on a CV. This goes on the last page of your CV and includes your reference's first and last name, job title, institution name and address, and contact information (both phone and email).

Supplementary Documents

When submitting a CV, it is not uncommon for a prospective candidate to also include the following additional materials.

The dissertation abstract is often submitted as an addendum to a CV or a supplemental application document. The dissertation abstract should be a one to two page summary of your work. The abstract should be clear and understandable to general audiences while remaining detailed and technical enough that it will pique the interest of those in your field.
A statement of research is frequently used along with a CV when submitting an application to an academic position. It conveys your accomplishments (i.e results and any recognition or awards received) within your research career as well as past, present, and future work. It should emphasize your specific area of interest and the long term goals of your work. A statement of research should be a minimum of one page and usually no longer than four pages.
A cover letter can accompany a CV and should outline your reasons for applying to the position and your interest in the organization, school, or institution.  Use confident language, write in an active voice, and, except in rare circumstances, limit your letter to one page. Be sure to explicitly state all of the documents that you are including in your application. Think of the cover letter as a directory for all of the materials you are submitting; it should instruct the reader where to find the relevant information in a clear and user-friendly manner. Review Steinbright's cover letter resources as you get started.
You may be asked to include your transcript along with a CV. This is usually submitted as a separate document to the body of the CV. Drexel students and alumni can request an official transcript through Drexel Central.


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