Curricula Vitae

A curriculum vitae (CV) is used to apply for faculty positions, some types of research positions, or fellowships. It highlights your educational, research, and teaching accomplishments and includes a summary of your publications, presentations, awards, honors, affiliations, and other details.


  • A CV is usually comprehensive—at least two or three pages in length but may be longer if you have an extensive work history or publishing record.
  • Choose a standard typeface for your text (e.g., Times New Roman, Arial, Tahoma, Garamond), 10–12-point text size, and use it consistently; your name and subheadings can be larger and may be bolded for emphasis and readability.
  • Use bullet points rather than paragraphs for content; in general, each bullet point should be at least five words and no more than three lines long.
  • Include only information relating to your education, skills, professional interests, and work experience. Do not include photographs of yourself or personal information unrelated to your ability to do the job (e.g., Social Security number, height, weight, general health status, or personal interests). International students: Do not include your visa status on your CV; however, be prepared to talk about it in an interview.
  • Write in the third person; do not use "I" (e.g., "Worked for three summers at…" rather than "I worked for three summers at…").
  • Make sure your spelling and grammar are flawless.

Suggested Layout


Include your name, Penn State email address (e.g., or other professionally appropriate email address, phone number, and LinkedIn profile URL if you have one.


  • List your most recent degree or anticipated degree (e.g., "M.S. in Electrical Engineering"), graduation date or anticipated date, and cumulative grade point average. List information about any other degrees or qualifications next.
  • The official name of this institution is The Pennsylvania State University and the location of the University Park campus is University Park, PA (not State College).

Research Experience

For each research position you have held, provide the name of the office or lab, location (including the name of the university or company), relevant dates, and a brief description of your project.

Teaching Experience

This section is especially important if you are looking for a faculty position. However, if you have teaching experience, include it even if you are looking for a research position since comfort with public speaking is useful to you in any professional setting.

Include the name and location of the institution(s) and specific positions you held, including the name of the course(s) you taught and relevant dates (e.g., "Teaching Assistant, Introduction to Engineering Design, Fall 20xx").


List any publications to which you have contributed or been the primary or sole author, including journal articles, book reviews, or books. Check with your thesis adviser or a faculty member you’ve worked with if you have any questions about the proper formats for different types of publications.


List any presentations you have given—either individually or with others—at conferences, lectures, or invited talks. For each listing, provide the title of the presentation or poster, name of conference (if applicable), date, and location.

Honors and Awards

  • Include membership in honor societies or academic or professional organizations. Specify those in which you took a leadership role (if applicable).
  • List any fellowships or academic awards you have received, either at Penn State or from another source.

Professional Affiliations

List any memberships you hold in professional organizations related to your engineering discipline (e.g., American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)). For each affiliation, indicate whether you held a leadership position or were simply a member and your dates of membership.

Finally, prepare a list of references—separate from your CV—to give to employers who request it.

See our Sample Job Search Documents page for links to sample CVs.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Optimization Tips

Many universities and research centers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter job search documents—such as CVs and cover letters—using keywords such as job titles or specific skills. An ATS can store and track job search documents and help hiring managers by screening for the most appropriate candidates to contact and potentially interview.

To increase the likelihood that your CV makes it through the initial screen and into the hands of a real person, it’s important to make it as ATS-friendly as possible. 


  • Create the document from scratch, using Microsoft Word. Avoid templates, especially fancy ones that include graphic elements and colors.
  • Use well-known, easy-to-read font styles.
  • Don’t use tables, flowcharts, text boxes, photos, or graphics, including special characters or symbols; these can confuse the ATS.
  • Use tabs to navigate within the document.
  • If including URLs, use the whole address (e.g.,
  • Maintain a one-inch margin on all sides of the document.


  • Follow any instructions that the ATS presents.
  • Use traditional CV section headings that the ATS is likely to be looking for.
    • Experience is an important keyword, so consider using it in headings for different types of experience (e.g., Work Experience, Teaching Experience, Research Experience)
    • For headings that don’t use the word "experience", keep headings simple (e.g., Education, Technical Skills, Awards, Professional Affiliations).
  • Use bullets or commas in content sections, not open spaces.
  • Incorporate exact keywords from the position description wherever possible to describe your skills and experience.
  • Submit your CV in .doc, .docx, or PDF format.

Check how well your CV is optimized by using a service such as Jobscan, which provides up to five document scans a month for free (although you must create an account to use the service).

Learn More: CVs



Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations

College of Engineering

117 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-863-1032