Curriculum Vitae General Tips

  • Your CV should be kept current and updated at least once a semester.  Make a habit of consistently adding your accomplishments and experiences immediately following their completion.
  • There is not an established standard format.  The format you use should make it easy for the reader to find information, be professional, and be visually appealing.  Look at examples and pick a format that appeals to you.
  • The order of topics in a CV is flexible, but sections should be arranged to highlight your strengths.  The earlier in your document that a particular section of information comes, the more emphasis you will be placing on that block of information.  For a recent graduate, education is the most important section and should be near the top.
  • List items within each category in reverse chronological order (most recent appearing first).
  • Elaborate on accomplishments and skills within categories.
    • Use descriptive and precise statements for ease of reading. Avoid large paragraphs of information that require the reader to search for the key information.  Recruiters prefer bulleted statements over large blocks of information. Start phrases with action verbs and avoid overusing certain action words. View our list of great action verbs.
    •  Be honest and don’t embellish, but don’t undervalue your experience and accomplishments. This is not the time for modesty, as employers want to know about your accomplishments. However, if the information presented in a CV is inaccurate or inconsistent with other information obtained in the initial review or interview process, you will most likely be eliminated from further consideration.
  • Make your CV visually appealing and easy to follow by:
    • Making sure formatting is consistent throughout as this will speak to your attention to detail.
    • Only including information once (i.e. don’t include the same information in multiple sections).
    • Using short phrases, bullets, action verbs and impact statements. More information on skills-based impact statements.
  • Proofreading is critical.  Employers expect your resume to be an example of your best work. Therefore, spelling and grammatical errors often result in elimination from further consideration.  Have multiple reviewers look for mistakes in grammar, spelling, alignment, and consistency.
  • Save your resume in both .pdf and in .txt format with your name in the file name.  Employers may receive many resumes; make it easy for them to find yours by including your name in the file name.
  • Printing on premium weighted or linen business paper may help your resume stand out. Additionally, using some color in headings might accentuate parts of your resume.  Remember, however, that your CV will be primarily judged for its content.