How To: Write a CV
For anyone planning to apply for a graduate program, having a good CV (Curriculum Vitae) is extremely important. CV's provide students/applicants an opportunity to summarize their professional and academic accomplishments/experiences.
First, it's important to differentiate between a resumé and a CV. Resumés are intended for highlighting job experience, and they tend to be much shorter than CV's. A CV should highlight academic and professional training, certifications, experiences, and so forth. CV's tend to be much longer, though you do need to be careful to not let it get too long. (My recommendation for applying to a graduate program is to keep the CV to 2 pages, no more than 3; doing so keeps it brief and concise for the reader, and helps you to highlight your most important qualifications).
Focusing on graduate programs in psychology specifically, there are a few sections that are pretty standard:
- Research experience
- Clinical experience (if any)
- Honors & Awards
- Professional service
- Publications/presentations/posters (if any)
- Certifications (if any)
Those sections can have different titles, but they should typically be present in some way. As I noted with some sections, you'll only include them if you have anything to put in there. When applying for a graduate program, you might not (yet).
For education, you'll want to give basic information regarding your undergraduate education. Research experience will detail what labs you were in, who was the principal investigator, what the study was/is seeking to do, and what your roles were. Clinical experience (if you have any) will detail where it was, who you had for supervisors, and what types of experiences you had. Honors & awards will contain any relevant awards you've obtained, as well as any funding you have gotten. Professional service can detail extracurricular work you have done for the field that you are interested in. Publications (and presentations/posters) will include any works that you have been an author or co-author on (and it's recommended to bold your name; and format it in APA style!). Finally, references will include who will act as your references (typically the same people who write letters of recommendation for you, and you'll generally need 3).
Other sections can be included as well, such as the Syntax and Assessment sections that I have in my CV (which you can view on my Public CV page). But, the sections I detailed above are the core sections, and the ones you should definitely include.
For formatting the CV, you want to have a consistent format throughout. Experiences should be in chronological order (I prefer to have anything that is current at the top, then work backwards from there). Blocks of text should be lined up (using tab stops, like I detailed in a recent post). You have some freedom with font, font size, and spacing, but it should be professional and easy to read. In general, I would try to keep blocks of text on the same page so the breaks feel natural.
Setting up an initial template can be very difficult, but getting it right will be very beneficial in the long-run. If you want a template based on my CV, you can get it from the Resources page.
Have questions about how to format a CV, or what to include? Want tips on other materials that you commonly need for graduate school and beyond? Let me know in the comments!