Discuss CV writing and seek feedback
Everyone struggles with writing their first curriculum vitae. One of the most important tips for writing a helpful CV is to not allow yourself to suffer in silence. Speak with other students. Share your concerns, lament, and review each others' CVs. Be sure to meet with students within your cohort as well as more advanced students. Share your CV and ask to review theirs. After reviewing several CVs you should have a better idea of what to include in your own. Don't forget to speak with faculty and ask for their input. Reviewing your mentor's CV can be intimidating because it is likely a dozen or more pages long, but you can often gain insight about format and content. Seek feedback from your professors and give it very careful consideration because faculty are likely the intended audience for any position to which you might apply.
Remember that anyone who reads your CV will have read it as a part of a large stack of CVs. Make yours stand out by staying relevant and including only pertinent details. Fully express your accomplishments and skills but make every word count. Although all entries must be described, do not use more than a few lines for any one entry.
Omit irrelevant personal information and accomplishments.
Do not include information about your age, marital status, number of children, ethnicity, political affiliation, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, place of birth, height, weight, hobbies and photos of yourself. These items are irrelevant and invite bias on the part of reviewers. Do not include activities and accomplishments from high school.
Use accurate headings.
If you model your CV after your professor's, ensure that your category labels are accurate. Your professor's CV might include a section entitled Honors and Awards, for example, Don't use the same heading, Honors and Awards, unless you have at least one honor and one award to list. In other words, use accurate category headings. If you have received one award, a section simply titled Awards is acceptable.
Use page numbers.
What happens when a thick file folder filled with applicant CVs falls off of a desk? Paper goes everywhere! Make sure that the pages in your CV are identifiable. Create a header for your CV that includes your last name (at minimum) and page number, permitting the CV to be reconstructed should the pages be separated.
Attend to presentation.
Make your CV pleasing to the eye. Use clean subtle formatting with 1 inch margins. Use bold type and bullet points sparingly for emphasis but avoid creating a busy-looking document. Make your curriculum vitae easy to read and it is more likely to be read. Print your curriculum vitae on white paper. Do not use the heavy bond paper that is common for resumes in business settings. Although bonded paper is often used to make business resumes stand out, they are not preferred by most academics and may convey that the writer is unaware of the norms of academia, which, as you might imagine, can turn readers off.
Proofread, proofread, proofread.
Typos, misspellings, and grammatical mistakes are indefensible. CVs with errors are usually tossed.
Finally, beginning curriculum vitae writers are often flummoxed when they read professors' lengthy CVs. Students often wonder if they too will amass a dozen or more pages of accomplishments. You will, but it will take time. A first curriculum vitae might be a single page long. The only rule for CVs is that they must depict your experiences and competencies accurately. The number of pages entailed to accomplish that goal does not matter. Curriculum vitae grow with careers.