Beyond school, careers paths available to a graduate with a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Education typically commence with the submission of a Curriculum Vitae (CV), usually to a human resource department in response to an advertisement for a job. A CV documents your personal contact information, educational background, work experience, and academic achievements (e.g., awards, publications). A CV is different from a resume. If you have ever applied for a part-time job or a summer position, you probably developed and submitted a resume. A resume means “abbreviated” or “summarized” in French, and it provides employers with a short version of your education and work experience. It is typically no more than one page in length. A CV, on the other hand, means “course of life” in Latin, and it is a more comprehensive list of your accomplishments that can span several pages.
A CV is also a work in progress. Even when you gain entrance into graduate studies or secure a permanent position with some organization, your CV should be updated on a yearly basis to reflect current achievements and ongoing development. You can expect to be asked to produce a CV on occasion throughout your career, sometimes with very little notice. For example, you may be asked to provide a supervisor or department chair with a copy for peer review or evaluation purposes. A CV is generally included in an application for promotion to an administrative position or a tenured position within an academic department. Many research funding agencies ask for a CV along with a grant proposal. Importantly, keeping your CV updated helps you keep track of your teaching and research experiences, your scholarly awards and accomplishments, volunteer work in your community and other forms of service you engage in as well as changes to important contact information sources such as personal references.
You will be amazed at how and how much your academic profile builds over time. A talk you gave in an introductory psychology class on “The Subsystems of Memory” in the fall of 2019 might start a list of professional presentations. The next year you might add a poster session you gave on “Declarative Memory” at an annual conference of the American Psychology Association. In 2020, you might present your own research on “Semantic Memory” at your university’s annual research day and revise your CV to include this as your third professional presentation entry.
You never know when your dream job will appear in an advertisement or some great opportunity will arise on short notice so be ready. Start collecting relevant information, dates, and achievements for your CV right now! Open a file on your computer and call it “Your Name Curriculum Vitae.” The rest of this chapter provides you with step-by-step advice for ways to translate what you have done into a CV that demonstrates your knowledge, skills, abilities, and accomplishments.
What to Include in a CV
The first page of your CV generally includes personal contact information and describes your educational background. Begin with the centered title “Curriculum Vitae.” Beneath this, insert your full name. On the next line, place your mailing address. Underneath this, include your work or home phone number, and your email address. The personal contact information should stand out on your CV, so it is okay to put this in bold, italics, or use a specialized, but easy-to-read font.
Dr. Diane G. Symbaluk
Department of Sociology, MacEwan University
6-329, 10700-104 Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T5J 4S2
The next section of your CV is your educational background. List your academic accomplishments, beginning with your highest degree and/or most recent one. Put the year you earned the degree, flush with the left margin, followed by a space and then the title of the degree, along with any areas of specialization, the educational institute that issued the degree, and if applicable, a title that indicates the topic of research conducted to complete, for instance, a thesis or dissertation.
1997 Doctor of Philosophy, Sociology (Criminology; Social Psychology)
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
An application of the General Theory of Crime to Sex Offenders
1993 Master of Arts, Sociology (Experimental Social Psychology)
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
Money, Modeling and Pain: The Role of Self-Efficacy and Pain Perception
1991 Bachelor of Arts with Honours (Major: Sociology)
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
Activity Anorexia and its Implications for Amateur Wrestlers
Perhaps at this point you only have a high school diploma and are working towards your Bachelor of Education degree. List the degree you are working on in progress with an expected completion date, followed by your high school diploma.
2020* Bachelor of Education (in progress)
Elementary Specialization: K to Grade 3
Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario
*Expected completion year
2016 High School Diploma
Bev Facey Community High School, Sherwood Park, Alberta
If you have any additional certificates, awards, or acknowledgements that show you have other academic or employment-related accomplishments and skills, include them next so that they stand out to the reader. These could include technical certificates, diplomas, professional development or program completion certificates, as well as titles you have earned (e.g., Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, Victim Services Trainer). Include a title that best fits the types of accomplishments listed such as:
Certifications and Professional Development
- Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans Course on Research Ethics (TCPS 2: CORE), May 5, 2018
- Basic First Aid with CPR, St. John’s Ambulance, March, 2018
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, January, 2018
- Academy of Leadership and Training, April, 2017
- Toastmasters International, July, 2016
Scholarships, Awards and Grants
If you have ever received money in the form of a grant, scholarship, award, travel subsidy, or sponsorship, include the name and a brief description of the award in a new section. Some people indicate the actual monetary value of the award and/or the applicable dates when the funding occurred. You may also include subsidized trips to another city to read an essay in a contest or to play a sport in a championship game, or an award from a church or community group. If you received the same award more than once, you can indicate the multiple years in which you received it. If you have multiple awards, consider dividing them into a few sections as shown below.
Scholarships and Awards
Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council Fellowship ($30,000), 2017 – 2019
Province of Alberta Graduate Scholarship ($3000), 2017; 2015
Department of Sociology Research Assistantship ($1200), 2014
Jason Lang Scholarship for GPA exceeding 3.2, ($1000), 2014
Research and Travel Grants
Arts and Science Divisional Research Grant ($1750), 2019.
Clifford H. Skitch Travel Award, 2018 ($450); 2016
Sociology Graduate Travel Award ($150), 2015
The next section of your curriculum vitae details your work experience. Indicate your recent employment history by naming the places of employment, your job titles, years of employment, and the main duties or applicable skills required for the positions. If possible, list some of your individual accomplishments. All jobs have accompanying duties – what special skills did you learn that a potential employer might be interested in? If you have a long listing of prior work experience (and most is not applicable to the job or graduate program you are applying for), consider only including the most recent.
Recent Work Experience
2018 –present Hostess
Earl’s Restaurant, Edmonton, Alberta.
- Greeting and seating customers, handling gift certificates, helping to clear tables
- Special skills: supervised staff members, designed promotional events
2017– 2016 Cashier
London Drugs, Sherwood Park, Alberta
- Processing customer transactions, shelving stock, dealing with customer inquiries, electronic payment processing
- Special skills: service recovery, retail communications
Teaching and Research
Since this is an academic CV, the focus is on teaching and research. If you are an undergraduate student, you likely do not have direct teaching experience and limited research experience. In this case, incorporate some of your accomplishments from classes that you have taken. For example, create a heading “Professional Presentations” and itemize class presentations you have given, along with any other talks you have given as part of your work, committee, or extra-curricular activities. List your name as the author (and include the names of others if this was part of a group presentation), the title of the talk, its purpose, where it took place and the date it occurred.
Michaels, C. “Why we need to use animals in research.” Presentation given in Experimental Psychology, MacEwan University, Fall, 2019.
Michaels, C., Adams, L. S. & Tate, P. “Stress: What is it and how can we manage it?” Group Presentation for Introduction to Psychology, MacEwan University, Winter, 2018.
Michaels, C. “The Ice Breaker.” Short Speech at Bowman Toastmasters Club, Sherwood Park, Winter, 2017.
How can you get some teaching experience? As an undergraduate, consider asking a former instructor of yours if you can help proctor a final exam or provide any other course support to gain some experience. You can even note that you are trying to build your CV and are looking for activities that relate to teaching. Many university departments offer teaching assistantships to graduate students who give guest lectures, help proctor and mark exams, and tutor undergraduate students for a designated course and professor. These experiences can all be included in your CV as shown below.
Guest Lecturer. “Truth and Reconciliation: An Overview.” Introduction to Indigenous Studies (INDG 100). University of Regina, Winter, 2019.
Exam proctoring for Dr. Huntz. Social Psychology (Sociology 241). MacEwan University, Fall, 2018.
Teaching Assistant to Dr. Wiess-Brooks. Introductory Sociology (Sociology 201). University of Calgary, Fall, 2017.
Eventually, you can replace the guest lecture and assistantship experiences with actual teaching appointments.
Instructor: Introductory Sociology (Sociology 100). Faculty of Arts and Science, MacEwan University, Winter, 2019
Instructor: Psychology of Aging (Psychology 3120). Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Lethbridge, Fall, 2018
Laboratory Instructor: Introduction to Social Statistics (Sociology 210). University of Alberta, Fall, 2018
Include a separate section for your research experience. Ideally, you want to include publications that demonstrate your scholarly work. If you do not have a publication at this point in your life, you can create a list of essays and research reports. For each paper, include the title to indicate the area of research and the course name to reveal your program of study. You can also list formal presentations you have given such as a poster presentation or a talk during a student research day (see Appendix C for a sample poster). To demonstrate your abilities, emphasize when you have conducted data analyses, carried out research, and employed different methods, as shown in the examples below.
2017 Research Assistant – NorQuest College, Edmonton, AB
- Conducted one-on-one interviews with clients from various community agency partners using effective communication and interpersonal skills (i.e., The Mustard Seed, DECSA, Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers).
- Transcribed focus group proceedings and wrote brief summaries of key findings.
2015 Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewer (CATI) – Population Research Lab, University
of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
- Conducted surveys over the phone to gather views from respondents for academic research purposes.
- Recorded and transcribed responses and comments from participants.
Giampi, L. “A Successful Transition Off Academic Probation: A Qualitative Analysis.” Oral Presentation given at the 1st Annual Student Research Day, MacEwan University, April, 2017.
Giampi, L. “Social Media, Targeted Advertising and the Impact on the Consumer and Business Owner: A Qualitative Analysis on Students’ Views.” Poster Presentation given at the 1st Annual Student Research Day, MacEwan University, April, 2017.
Cheng, T. “A Jungian Approach to Dream Interpretation.” A 10-page expository essay turned in for 30% of the grade in Psychology of Consciousness, MacEwan University, Winter, 2019.
Cheng, T. “Capital Punishment is not a Deterrent to Violent Crime.” A 15-page argumentative essay submitted in a Criminology course, MacEwan University, Fall, 2018.
- Conducted data analyses using a variety of statistical packages including: SPSS, Excel, and MAXQDA
Research Methods Course (Sociology 315)
- Survey Research: Created a questionnaire to assess people’s views towards street prostitution that included open-ended items, 5-point Likert scales, and forced choice responses.
- Experimental Methods: Designed an experiment for testing taste preferences among cola drinkers.
- Research Report: Wrote a 20-page research report on gender representation in advertising based on content analyses.
Laboratory-based Course (Biology 107)
- Biology Laboratory: Completed 36 laboratory hours with final exam.
- Laboratory Applications: DNA synthesis, DNA electrophoresis, microscope skills, proper laboratory etiquette and composing laboratory reports.
Davidson, B. The effect of temperature and solvents on the amount of betacyanin released from living beet cell (Beta vulgaris) samples in a controlled laboratory environment. Two-page laboratory report for Introduction to Cell Laboratory, MacEwan University, Fall 2015.
Davidson, B. The effect of smoke extracts, cigarette butt extracts, and unsmoked cigarette filter extracts on functioning cilia in Tetrahymena. Six-page laboratory report for Introduction to Cell Laboratory, MacEwan University, Fall 2015.
Davidson, B. The colours of light best absorbed by a spectrophotometer and the effect of different coloured light and different herbicides on photosynthesis. Nine-page laboratory report for Introduction to Cell Laboratory, MacEwan University, Fall 2015.
If you have scholarly publications, list the most recent publication first. When you become fairly established and you have multiple publications, you can start to subdivide this section into books or manuals, book chapters, scholarly publications, research abstracts, and so on as needed. A sample from one of the author’s publication records is given below.
Symbaluk, D. G. (2019). Research Methods: Exploring the social world in Canadian contexts. Canadian Scholars.
Symbaluk, Diane G., & Bereska, Tami M. (2019). Sociology in action: A Canadian perspective (3rd ed.). Nelson Education.
Powell, R. A., Honey, P. L., & Symbaluk, D. G. (2017). Introduction to learning and behavior (5th ed.). Wadsworth/Cengage.
Duffy, M. E. & Symbaluk, D. G. (2019). Sociology graduate school requirements and competitive advantages. Canadian Journal of Family and Youth, 11(1), 1-19. https://doi.org/10.29173/cjfy29405
Symbaluk, D. G., & Howell, A. J. (2018). Character strengths of teaching- and research-award winning professors. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 29(1), 5-26.
Giampa, L. M. & Symbaluk, D. G. (2018). Successful transition off academic probation: A qualitative analysis. Canadian Journal of Family and Youth, 10(1), 73-97. https://doi.org/10.29173/cjfy29343
Committees and Associations
Committee work is a form of professional service that is expected in many areas of employment. Committees can take a multitude of forms including voluntary organizations, planning groups, church groups, and associations. Everyone is expected to take their turn in helping their department develop new policies, hire new faculty, and operate within the larger institution. Committee membership has all sorts of benefits: exposure to new ideas, learning about policies and processes, and working with different people. A prospective employer may take notice of this section of your CV because committee membership also conveys more latent attributes such as the likelihood that you are a team player, that you are willing to take on additional service for the betterment of others, that are people-oriented, that you can work well in a group, and/or that you can get along with others.
Committee work often involves administrative tasks and functions that can teach you important skills needed for eventual promotions (e.g., from a teacher to a vice-principal, from a faculty member to a department chair, or from an associate to full professor). Similarly, volunteer experience is a great way to obtain career-related skills, learn about potential employers and develop contacts that can help you secure a permanent position. Committee and volunteer work also demonstrate that you have other interests and affiliations. Networking achieved through these memberships can also help to further your career aspirations. Lastly, committee and association members as well as volunteer organization supervisors also constitute a great source for obtaining references, so embrace these opportunities as soon as possible.
Member, Council on Student Life,
University of Alberta, 2018-2019.
Elected Vice-President, Sociology Graduate Students’ Association,
Department of Sociology, University of Alberta, 2017-2018
Chair, Corporate Challenge Planning Committee
MacEwan University, Winter, 2017
Secretary, Toastmasters Pros Club
Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2015-2016
Centre for Autism Service Alberta
Program Volunteer, Edmonton, AB
- Peer-mentored teens and young adults
- Coached and worked with children through imaginative play
- Worked to help build social and interactive skills in children
University of Alberta Hospital
Cardiac Patient Resource Centre Volunteer, Edmonton, AB
- Assisted patients and family members with questions and concerns
- Created and distributed information packages and condolence packages
- Provided general assistance (e.g., welcoming, helping with directions)
The last section of your CV usually includes a current list of personal references. When building a list of people willing to provide you with a positive reference, try to cover a range of academic, work, and community-based affiliations. At least two references should be from people who are qualified to speak about your academic or work competencies and abilities (e.g., the department chair, your manager or supervisor, an instructor that knows your work well). In each case, include the person’s name, organization, job title, and relationship to you. Some sample references are provided below:
John Smith, Ph.D. (MacEwan University – Chair, Psychology Department).
Dr. Smith is currently the department chair.
Phone: (780) 555-4432
Tom Kurt, Ph.D. (University of Alberta – Professor of Sociology, and Director, Centre for Experimental Sociology).
Dr. Kurt was my academic supervisor for the honours program at the University of Alberta.
Phone: (780) 555-5485
Jane Doe, R.N. (Grey Nuns Community Hospital)
Ms. Doe was my main supervisor when I served as a volunteer on a General Unit from 2015-2017.
Phone: (780) 555-5768
How Long Should Your CV Be?
There is not a page limit on a CV, but you should try to keep it concise. One way to do this is to replace earlier work with more substantive accomplishments. For example, years from now you might replace your list of essays with abstracts and refereed articles that you published in scholarly journals. An early talk given in a class can be replaced with a teaching appointment. Keep an original long version CV that has every single one of your accomplishments in it even if it grows to ten or more pages. You can always create new, shorter CV’s from the original file, depending on the nature of a request. Perhaps you wish to emphasize your teaching experience for a possible position at a university. In this case, you might include information on every presentation, guest lecture, and teaching-related task you have done in the past. Alternatively, if you are applying for a research-based position at a university, you might abbreviate the teaching section but expand on your publication history.
If you need to make copies of your CV, use a high-quality printer and copier. Avoid the use of colour and fancy graphics.
Include a Cover Letter
Usually your CV accompanies a cover letter. The cover letter should be directed to the department head or individual in charge of hiring (e.g., a Department Chair or Director of Human Resources). In two-to-three short paragraphs, indicate what the position is you are applying for (and quote the competition number if applicable), why you are interested in the position, in what ways you meet the qualifications and that you have enclosed a copy of your curriculum vitae.
What Not To Include In Your CV
While composing the above sections of your CV, try to avoid including any of the following:
- A cute email address in your contact information such as: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Any interests or hobbies, unless they are directly relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Your religious or political beliefs, marital status, age, etc.
- Reasons for leaving any jobs.
- References from friends or relatives.
- Long paragraphs – try to use point-from whenever possible.
- Any negative words or descriptions.
- A photo.
❏ Name and Contact Information
❏ Certifications and Professional Development
❏ Scholarships, Awards and Grants
❏ Work Experience
❏ Professional Presentations
❏ Committees and Associations
- For additional information on how to write a CV, including how to condense a CV into a single page or two pages with samples, we highly recommend McGill University’s Guide located at: https://www.mcgill.ca/caps/files/caps/guide_cv.pdf
- To learn more about the categories or sections you can include in a CV, you might want to check out the information provided by University of Toronto’s Academic Advising and Career Centre at: https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/aacc/curriculum-vitae-cv
- For more information on the differences between resumes and CVs, including sample templates, you can examine information posted by University of Victoria’s Co-operative Education Program and Career Services at: https://www.uvic.ca/coopandcareer/career/applications/resumes/index.php
- For additional help on how to write a statement of intent, visit Berkeley’s Graduate Division “Writing the Statement of Purpose” page found at: http://grad.berkeley.edu/admissions/apply/statement-purpose