Curriculum Vitae


Application Letter

About the CV and Letter of Application

Who should use a curriculum vitae?

The curriculum vitae (or CV) is an essential document in applications for academic employment. Persons applying for teaching, research, and some administrative positions are expected to submit a CV along with a rather detailed letter of application and other supporting materials. The CV is also used by professional educators who are seeking positions in school administration and other education-related careers.

Generally, academic institutions are the only employers who want to see a CV. Most other employers in private business and government strongly prefer a short, one-page resume; sending these employers a CV can, in fact, be counterproductive. When in doubt, check with your advisor or career counselor as to whether to send a CV or a resume.

What is a curriculum vitae, and what is it used for?

A curriculum vitae is much like a resume, only much longer and more detailed. The CV generally ranges from two to dozens of pages in length, depending upon such factors as the extent of one's research record or the stage of one's career. Entry level CV's in higher education tend to be only a few pages in length.

In applying for positions in higher education, the CV generally takes the place of the printed application form. Typically, a position announcement for an assistant professorship will ask for a letter of application, a CV, a writing sample and other supporting documents. At the community college level, one does encounter standard application forms, but it is a good idea to enclose your CV along with these completed forms when applying.

Besides mailing the CV with application materials, you should carry a few copies to any interviews or site visits. You should generously give a copy to everyone with whom you interact during your visits.

What is the proper use of the terms "vitae" and "vita" and "CV"?

The minutiae of this controversial question remain the topic of vigorous debate. However, a recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education served to standardize the usage somewhat by passing along the following information:

The term "curriculum vitae" translates as something close to "course of life." The term "vita" translates as simply "life." The correct label for one's (single) document can be either "curriculum vitae" or simply "vita." In other words, one does not use the term "vitae" by itself, nor does one write "curriculum vita".

In informal conversation we often hear academicians call this document a "CV," thus avoiding the Latin forms altogether. This practice is widely accepted, but we do not recommend your putting "CV" at the top of your curriculum vitae for employment applications. It is better to use one of the two acceptable forms shown above.

What information should I include on my vita?

The curriculum vitae is your opportunity to present yourself and your qualifications in the format of your choice. It is important to keep in mind that the vita is your document, and as such you want it to present you in the best possible light with regard to the position for which you are applying. The format and categories used on vitas can vary among the academic disciplines, and we cannot overemphasize the importance of working closely with a graduate advisor in your specific academic department with regard to the details of your curriculum vitae. The suggestions and samples in this packet are to be used as a generic model only, as the style and contents of CV's vary from major to major.

In general, DO include any and all information that is pertinent to your qualifications for the job. The following is a list of possible categories of information to include:

Name, Address(es), Phone Number(s), Email Address
Objective: What exactly are you applying for?
Academic Preparation: College degrees with details
Relevant Work Experience
Specific Skills: Computer programs, Lab techniques, etc.
Papers etc. submitted for publication
Current research interests
Paper/Posters presented at conferences
Grants received
Professional organization memberships
Professional services
Honors and awards

This list is suggestive and not exhaustive, and again we strongly urge your consultation with an advisor in your academic field in choosing the appropriate categories.

On the other hand, DO NOT include on your curriculum vitae the kinds of personal information that have nothing to do with your qualifications for the position. Here are some items that range from tasteless to illegal if included. Do not list your height, weight, or any other physical characteristic. Do not give your age, marital status, sexual preferences, racial or ethnic identity, political or religious affiliations, place of birth, or other information of this kind. Do not attach a photograph.

Your finished CV should be on good quality, standard 8.5 X 11 inch paper that is white (or something very close to white). It should, of course, be typed or printed on one side of the page only, and copies should be neat and letter-quality dark. It is acceptable to staple the pages in the upper left corner. Make the layout look highly organized and easy to peruse. Use capitals, underlines, bold print and bullets appropriately to lead the reader's eyes where you want them to go. Use ample blank space between sections, and leave generous margins on all four edges. This is not a time to save paper. Make the most important information stand out on the left side of the page. Create a document that welcomes the reader's attention.

Do you have any advice on the letter of application?

Yes. Take it very seriously. Make it perfect. Make it compelling. The letter of application is your chance to convince the employer that you ought to be interviewed. Employers read letters of application carefully, searching for clues and information on which to base their decisions.

A standard, generic form for the letter of application is (1) to introduce yourself, (2) to state briefly what you want, what position you are applying for, (3) to state clearly why you are qualified for the position, (4) to elaborate as to your special assets, why you are particularly well suited for the job, (5) to highlight your most important training, experiences, skills and accomplishments, and (6) to end with a compelling statement as to why the employer ought to hire you.

Where can I go for more information?

Your most valuable source of help on your CV and letter is your graduate advisor in your own academic department. The career library in the Career Center also contains resource materials on writing the curriculum vitae.

For help in getting started and for advice on more general matters of the job search in higher education, UCR students can feel free to call the Career Center at (909) 787-3631 to make an appointment with the appropriate Career Counselor. Also, registered students can air their questions from their computers through Careerserv.

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