All About Curriculum Vitae Anatomy of a Curriculum Vitae
by Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert

A curriculum vitae — Latin for “the course of one’s life” and also known as a CV or vita — is used by professionals in medical, academic and scientific fields. A CV is a record of professional activities that focuses on academic pursuits and achievements. Examples of professionals who require CVs include doctors, nurses, clinicians, lab technicians, professors, researchers, scientists, graduate school candidates, and grant or fellowship applicants.

Resume or CV?

Trying to decide whether you need a CV or resume? Educational and medical institutions are accustomed to evaluating candidates based on CVs, while private industry employers are familiar with traditional resume formats. If in doubt, inquire at the organization to which you are applying about the preferred format.


The length depends on your experience and credentials. A CV for a new graduate might be one page, whereas those at the top of their profession might require dozens of pages. Let content determine the length.


The content of a CV depends on the candidate’s experience and objective. The following list of possible headings is not exhaustive, and all headings are not appropriate for all professionals. Determine the right combination and order of topics based on your experience, industry and goal.

Contact Information: Lead with your name, address, phone number(s), email address and your online portfolio’s URL.

Objective or Professional Interests: State your career goal or interest in a particular opportunity. This optional statement helps focus the CV and is useful for career changers whose objectives might not be obvious.

Vision or Summary Statement: Some professionals include a brief vision, mission or profile statement summarizing their careers and offering a value proposition.

Education: List the institution names, locations, degree titles, major or academic concentration, theses or dissertations and dates. You may also highlight other professional development activities.

Certification and Licensure: Include certifications or licenses, issuing organizations and dates.

Internships: Include paid and unpaid internships and list the organization, location, title, dates and key contributions.

Professional Experience: Consider dividing your experience into subtopics such as teaching appointments, research experience or consulting engagements. Include the name and location of employers, job titles, dates, scope of responsibility and results or outcomes of your work.

Awards and Honors: Name the awards, issuing organizations and dates.

Publications: Professionals with extensive publishing credits may subdivide this section into categories: books, articles, refereed publications, reports, chapters, journals, abstracts, white papers, pamphlets, editorial activities, submitted or in-press publications. Use your industry’s standard bibliographic format.

Speaking Engagements: Include presentations, lectures, training sessions and workshops. Incorporate where you spoke, to whom, topics and dates.

Grants or Fellowships: Include project names, issuing organizations, amounts and dates.

Patents: Write the invention titles, patent numbers and dates.

Conferences Attended: List participation in professional conferences and include conference names, sponsoring organizations, locations and dates.

Affiliations: Highlight your professional memberships, appointments, advisory boards and committees. List organization names, your functions and dates.

Community Service: Demonstrate your leadership skills and compassion for others through participation in community activities. List organizations, your roles and dates.

Languages: Include foreign languages if you would feel comfortable demonstrating your skills at an interview.

Industry-Specific Skills: Label this section based on your specific expertise — e.g., lab skills or computer skills — and list related skills.

Current Projects: Describe in-progress projects that will be completed within a reasonable timeframe. Don’t reveal original ideas that are not yet protected.

References: Provide the names and contact information of your professional references.

This article was written by Kim Isaacs, director of and author of The Career Change Resume book. Visit to learn more about resume services to jump-start your career.

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