Below are sample materials to help guide the creation of your CV, resume, and cover letter. Some of these samples have been generously donated by UVA students and postdocs in order to provide you with ideas about how to create your own materials. DO NOT COPY the text exactly and please keep in mind there are numerous acceptable formats for these documents.
CURRICULUM VITAE (CV)
The curriculum vitae, also known as “vita” (without the “e”) and abbreviated as "CV,” is a comprehensive overview of your educational background and academic qualifications. It is the standard statement of credentials within academe and the research world, and the foundation of an application for an academic or research position, akin to the resume for job markets outside of academics. As is the case for all application materials, your CV should be tailored to each job opportunity and should emphasize your strongest qualifications.
While there is no limit to length, the CV must concisely convey information. In the early stages of the applicant screening process, search committee members will probably spend less than one minute scanning each CV to reduce a large pool of applicants to a manageable list of qualified candidates. To increase your chances of making the short list, you should prepare an attractive CV that clearly and succinctly identifies the qualifications that make you a good fit for the position.
While general guidelines are presented here, you are strongly urged to consult with faculty in your department for guidance. Given that CV styles change over time, it can also be instructive to look at the CVs of junior scholars in your field, particularly those who hold the kinds of positions that interest you.
There are several resume formats for presenting information, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, depending on the material being presented. Select a format that best showcases your qualifications in relation to the job you seek.
Lists all experience in reverse chronological order. This most traditional type of resume highlights a progressive record and best suits job seekers who have moved forward along a particular career path. This format may be less effective for people changing career pursuits, those who have little work experience, and those who wish to make a case for the transferability of skills to a different line of work. In addition, someone with old but very relevant experience should not choose this format as it will bury a strength at the end of the resume.
Often an effective format for graduate students. This format groups experiences into categories based on their function (e.g.. research experience, leadership, technical experience, writing and editing, marketing), and lists them in reverse chronological order within each category. The categories are prioritized according to relevance. This format can highlight a less recent but highly relevant experience. Carefully chosen category headings help to give the applicant an immediately recognizable identity, grabbing the reader’s attention. Sometimes job seekers have to be creative in grouping experiences.
Actual job titles and dates of experience are simply listed at the top or bottom of the resume without accompanying descriptions. The bulk of the resume consists of grouped general descriptions of skills used in one or more of the experiences (e.g.. project management, communication skills, leadership, organizational skills). This format is most useful for people changing careers and for those who have little work experience because it emphasizes transferable skills and deemphasizes gaps in employment or a lack of experience. Beware, though, that many employers dislike this format, preferring instead to see exactly what you did, where you did it, and when.
Another potentially effective format for graduate students. The combination resume combines the advantages of the chronological and functional resumes by listing past experiences chronologically and categorizing the functional descriptions for each experience by skill sets (e.g.. communication skills, leadership, analytical/technical skills). This format is suited to job seekers with only a few major experiences that employed multiple skills. It can also help graduate students to showcase the relevance of their teaching and research experiences, and the transferable skills those tasks require. As with the modified chronological resume, sometimes job seekers have to be creative in grouping their skills for this format.
A cover letter usually accompanies a job application beyond academe. If no cover letter is requested, send one anyway unless the employer explicitly instructs you not to do so. The role of the cover letter (a.k.a.. “letter of interest” or “letter of application”) is to interpret your qualifications for the reader to convince him or her of your suitability for an advertised position or a potential employment opportunity. Your cover letter is not analogous to a fax cover sheet. Instead think of it as a mini-thesis in the sense that it allows you to make an argument for your fit for the job or line of work. Written in the first person, the cover letter also gives you the opportunity to express your voice and to show your interest, professionalism, and gift for the written word. Graduate Career Services offers workshops every semester on preparing cover letters. Check our Programs and Events for a schedule of upcoming opportunities.