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Academic Coaching & Writing

III. Putting Your Curriculum Vitae Together

Feb 06, 2012 by Caroline Eisner

Now that you have thought about the various aspects of your academic career, you can begin to create your CV, which will be the first impression you make on a reviewer. Make sure that the lists and materials you have gathered for your education, academic-related jobs, courses taught (with descriptions of your curriculum and teaching methods), research, presentations you actually presented at conferences, and publications to fill in your CV (your academic life) are in front of you.

When constructing your CV, two rules are most important:

  • Use strong, active, and parallel verbs.
  • Do not use pronouns.

For example, write: “Manage. . . . Create. . . . Maintain. . . . Evaluate” rather than: “I was responsible for maintaining and managing.”

Write with strong verbs to indicate the levels of knowledge and responsibility you drew on in the positions you held. This link provides a list of strong verbs gathered especially for these types of documents.

Additional instructions for your CV:

  • Order all your lists from most recent to least recent, and remember you don’t have to include everything. Leave as few gaps as possible in your academic professional experience, unless there are good reasons to leave something off.
  • When you list your publications, begin with the most recently published, or those out for review (list these in italics), and move down your list to the one published first. If there are early publications (or conferences) you are no longer proud to list, or you no longer care to publicize, leave them off the list. If you delivered a paper long ago, and it is not relevant to your current academic self, don’t include it.

CVs require a lot of tweaking to get just right. Job descriptions can help remind you of what requirements of the job you have fulfilled. See if you have these on file or go to your workplace’s Human Resources website to see if it has a description of your position. Ask yourself what skills you have developed as a result of each of the positions you have held.

When you are ready, take a look at the links below and follow the order of information, formatting, and style. Pay attention to verbs that are strong and get to the point. Notice how pronouns are left out, and think about how much space you need to describe succinctly what and how you teach, manage, research, and provide service.

The sites below show you how to format your CV. This may, in fact, be one of the harder tasks in putting together your CV, and you may want to enlist the help of a friend or colleague who is savvy at formatting documents.


Below is an example of what each item, under each subheading, should include as well as how to format the item. Notice the necessary information provided, and how the formatting (including the bold, italics, indents, tabs, and punctuation), which may differ a bit from one CV to another, is consistent.


Graduation Date
Ph.D. in Intellectual History, Large State University. City, State.
Dissertation: “Title.”
Field Exam on Name Subject, Date of Exam.
Language Exam in Name Language, Name Proficiency, Date of Exam.
Awards: List any awards or scholarships with dates.

Graduation Date
M.A. in History, Large State University. City, State.
Thesis:  "Title."
Awards: List any awards or scholarships with dates.

Graduation Date
B.A. in History, Large State University. City, State.
Awards: List any awards or scholarships with dates.


M.S. in Educational Administration. City University, New York, New York.
Thesis:  "Critical Thinking: Assessing Online Asynchronous Discussions in 9th-Grade Language Arts."

Professional Experience (in order of most recent first: include only positions related to the career you now seek. Don’t include summer jobs during high school and college if they were temporary or do not show relevant skills.)

Company/School etc, City, State (spelled out).                Start date-present
Position Title. In active voice, and leaving out the pronoun “I,” describe your responsibilities using active verbs. Do not exaggerate. Write about five to six lines.


University of the North, Brattle, Vermont.              May 2003-May 2010
Director, North Writing Center. Oversaw writing courses across the disciplines, from first-year composition to upper-level writing. Organized faculty and student development, undergraduate student support, curricular programs, and external relations as they pertained to the Center’s mission. As Assistant Professor, taught courses for undergraduates, advanced graduate students across the disciplines, English Education graduate students, and graduate student instructors across the College.

Awards and Grants
List the Awards and Grants you have received. List the title of your project, the name of the grant, the institution that awarded the grant, the amount of the grant, and the years covered by the grant.


Carnegie Research for a New Professoriate. $50,000. 2009-2010.
Undergraduate Distinguished Teaching Award. 2004, 2007.
Faculty Achievement Award, University of the North. 2002.

Teaching Experience (list all relevant courses you have taught, starting with the most recent. It’s important to show that you have been given increasingly more difficult and higher-level courses to teach.)

Course Title (and Catalog Number), University: Dates of the semester(s) course taught.
Describe the course, again using strong verbs, active voice, and leaving out the pronoun “I.” Do not simply include the course bulletin description. Write about four lines on each. Try to stay away from cliché words such as “student-centered,” and describe what you taught, including coverage, theories, and texts (but not textbooks).


Teaching Experience

English Composition (Engl 397), College of the Plains: Fall 1999.
English 397 is a practical and theoretical model of collaborative learning, in which students explored issues of cultural and critical literacy, especially as these concepts inform the teaching and tutoring of writing and reading. Written assignments and class discussion focused on teaching and curriculum development, with particular attention paid to tutoring and the integration of reading and writing skills. Works studied included essays and books by contemporary educators and cultural theorists.

Rhetoric and Composition (Engl 011), Coast University: Fall 1996, 1997.
English 011 is a first-year literature and writing class in which students considered historical, social, political, artistic, and cultural constructions of physical space. Discussed contemporary works by Russell Banks and Toni Morrison, as well as novels by Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, and E.M. Forster.

Publications: The way in which you list your publications differs depending on what style guide your discipline uses. Disciplines in the Humanities use the MLA style guide and Social Sciences use the APA style guide.


Maxine Madsen. Eucalyptus Trees and the Fog in the San Diego Foothills. 2003. Los Angeles: Southern California University Press.

Maxine Madsen. “A History of the Santa Ana Winds.” 2002. Journal of Geographic Studies. 14.4: 373-79.


Coogan, P. (2010). From love to money: The first decade of comics fandom. International Journal of Comic Art, 12(1), 50–67.

Coogan, P. (2008). The definition of the superhero. In J. Heer & K. Worcester, Eds., A comics studies reader (pp. 77–93). Oxford, MS: University of Mississippi Press.

Conference Papers and Presentations


Maxine Madsen, “The Ownership of Authenticity,” San Diego College of the Fine Arts Conference on Copyright, July 2010.

Maxine Madsen, “Technically Speaking: Pumpkin Carving by the SRF,” National Conference of the Fall, April 2008.


Coogan, P. (2010, March). A map of comics St. Louis. Presentation at the meeting of the St. Louis Area Comics-Friendly Faculty (SLACoFF), Webster University, St. Louis, MO.

Coogan, P. (2010, January). Spinning gold out of scrap paper: How comic books went from trash to treasure. Talk presented at the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, MO.

Professional Activities and Service

Council of Writing Program Administrators, Taskforce on Plagiarism, 2009-2010.

University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment, External Advisory Committee for Strategic Assessment, 2005–07.

National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Human Dimensions of Global Change, 2000–2004.

Professional Affiliations

List those organizations of which you are currently a member.


American Council on Education
Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC)
Modern Language Association


Provide the contact information for those who know your work best and who are willing to give you  positive recommendations. Be sure to ask permission from your referees before you list them. Provide their name, their title, their institution, their mailing address, phone number, and email address. Post three to five referees. As you move from position to position, up the ladder, your references should reflect these moves. In my case, for example, my graduate school advisor is no longer the best person to comment on my professorial abilities.

Maxine Madsen
Associate Professor of Earth Sciences
College of the Santa Anas

Look at your colleagues’ CVs for additional information on layout and to get an idea of what you like and don’t like. Many people have posted their CVs online, and you can often find them posted on their departments’ faculty pages.

Your CV is your best opportunity to provide relevant information in one place about what you have accomplished and to indicate what you are capable of doing. Don’t puff up your experience or add information that is not true. In fact, false representation of your experience may be considered “job fraud,” and result in negative repercussions.

In the next blog, as a way to begin thinking about your teaching statement, you will begin to consider how to represent your teaching, pedagogy, and the ways you help your students learn the important skills and content of your discipline.

Again, let me know if you have any questions.

  • Angela says:

    Oct 15, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    I am a nurse practitioner, in Canada, preparing my cv for my application for my phd of nursing. As a result of me being a practicing NP working in a clinical capacity, I have not published. The application is requesting samples of my writing as an alternative. How is this done in a cv at it cant be retrieved from a link. Do I list some work and include a pdf?

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