How to Write a Simple CV

A curriculum vitae is not a resume; it is a presentation of your academic research, qualifications and approach. A real academic CV is often long and complex, listing in detail publications, teaching qualifications and research interests. For some positions, especially for academics looking for work outside of the university system, a simpler CV is sufficient.

Begin, as always, with your educational information. Do not include your dissertation or thesis topic. Just list, in simple chronological order, where you received your degrees. Do not list your high school. Just list the name of the university, the degree name and the specific area or department.

List your areas of interest. This is optional for a simpler CV because it might be implied in your education and publication list. If you are applying for a highly specialised position, however, this is the place to stress your expertise again.

List your professional positions. Again, just be brief here -- list the university or institution, your title and, at most, a very brief description of your job. If the job description is implied in the title, such as "assistant professor," then leave it alone. In more complex CVs, you would list your teaching area, classes and other details. Do not do that for a simpler CV, because, most of the time, it is implied by your basic areas of education you have already listed.

Write out your publications and book reviews. If you have many, do not list them all, but mention only those that a) are close to the sort of position for which you are applying, or b) are in the highest-profile publications. If you are applying for a nonacademic job, just list those things that make you look the best, relative to the position.

List any relevant conference presentations. This can be left out if you are applying for nonacademic positions. If you are well-published in your field, then it is implied that you are also active as a speaker and presenter. List these, however, if they are close to the area within which you are seeking employment. For example, if you are a mathematician looking for a private sector engineering job, list everything you have ever done that shows an applied mathematics interest relative to the sort of engineering job involved. For the simpler, shorter CVs, focus it on the job, not on you as an intellectual or scholar.

Talk about any awards you have received. This is a must, no matter what kind of CV you are writing. Make room for it.

Mention references. If you are looking outside of academia, then do not list only professors if at all possible. Get people on that list in the real world of economic production. This can help. It is possible in some cases that a purely academic CV will get you quickly branded as a theory egghead with no real-world experience.


There is no good reason that including all of the steps should make your CV longer than one page. If needed, make the font size smaller to make it fit.

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About the Author

Walter Johnson has more than 20 years experience as a professional writer. After serving in the United Stated Marine Corps for several years, he received his doctorate in history from the University of Nebraska. Focused on economic topics, Johnson reads Russian and has published in journals such as “The Salisbury Review,” "The Constantian" and “The Social Justice Review."

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