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  • Writer's pictureHeidi Waite

Resume / CV Writing

Original Post UCI GIC:

[Topics were inspired by questions from mentees & discussions with the UCI's Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ecology Group]

The first step to getting a job or getting into grad school is creating a resume or CV. These are documents that summarize your work experience and professional skills. They are usually the first thing an employer will see – it’s your first impression and you want to make it great. I’ll summarize some tips and tricks on creating a resume and share some resources available to you as a UCI student. [Scroll down for grad school specific suggestions]

Resume vs. CV

First, I’d like to explain the difference between a CV and resume. A resume is a short 1-page (2 page max) document that summarizes your experiences, education, skills, and accomplishments. CVs are similar to resumes, however, include a lot more detail and are generally longer documents. Resumes tend to have sections titled: contact information, objective, education, experience, skills/certificates, and sometimes accomplishments. CVs have a few extra sections including: research experience, teaching and mentoring, publications, awards, poster presentations, and references. Resumes are used when applying for non-academic or industry jobs (e.g. restaurants, companies, stores) while CV are used when applying to more research-focused or academic positions (e.g. research assistant, graduate school). There is no one correct way or format for either resume or CV, but the point is to make sure your formatting and style make it super easy and clear to read. I find the best way to start is to look at example resumes or CVs to see the different styles. You have to find which best fits your information and the type of job you are applying to.

General tips:

How do you organize your resume or CV? The best way to start is to look at some examples ( Generally, however, you’ll have your contact information (name, address, phone number, email) and education (list university, dates, major, and grade/GPA) at the top. Then you organize the rest of the resume or CV based on what is most important to the job you are applying to. It’s a good idea to read the job description and pull out what the employer is looking for. Then, you want to tailor your resume or CV to highlight the experiences and skills that make you good for the job. For example, you may be applying to a research assistant job that is looking for someone with lots of research experience. In that case, you might list your research experience directly after education. Conversely, if you are applying to a mentoring position, you might put your mentoring and teaching experience directly after education.

If you’re completely lost, it can be helpful to start with a template and then edit from there. Here is one resource with some templates: Keep in mind, however, that there is no one “right” format for resumes or CVs. You’ll most likely have to add, take away, and rearrange sections.

Do’s and Don’t’s

Here are a few quick tips to consider when making a resume or CV.


  • Tailor your resume / CV to each position you’re applying to. This means a different resume for each position you apply for, though you don’t need to start from scratch each time. Just tweak it each time.

  • Make your resume/CV clear and easy to read.

  • Make use of tables to make things look neat [video tutorial on how to use tables in CVs or resumes:].

  • Use font size 10 or 12.

  • Use easy-to-read font types. A few recommendations: Calibri, Gill Sans, Helvetica, Garamond, Georgia.

  • Use bold sections or headers.

  • Start each bullet point with an action word (e.g. organized, assisted, managed) [].

  • Use reverse chronological order when listing education, job or research experiences, volunteer/mentoring experiences, etc.

  • Include dates.

Do not:

  • Do not include photos.

  • Do not include salaries.

  • Do not include reasons for leaving past job.

  • Do not include EVERY work or research experience if not necessary. Highlight the most relevant experiences – the experiences that exemplify the skills the employer is looking for.

  • Do not copy and paste from online examples.

  • Do not include anything confidential.

  • Do not include obvious skills (e.g. internet).

  • Do not include irrelevant hobbies.


CV's for Grad School

A part of your application packet for graduate school is a CV. The tips above apply here as well. A major difference here is the order. I would order your CV as follows: name & contact info, education, publications (if any & only those you are an author on), awards (major research related ones/grants), research experiences each with a few bullet points describing your role in the research, presentations, leadership / mentoring (can split these if you prefer). Additional subheadings you might include: activities and skills (relevant ones), press (if you or your research were mentioned).

Feel free to check out my CV listed here.

Make sure to have several people read over your CV and edit it. If possible, have a professor or research mentor read it over. The more eyes the better!

Other resources:


UCI Division of Career Pathways: Resources for UCI Students

The UCI Division of Career Pathways has many resources for building resumes and CVs ( Once you have a resume or CV draft, you can put it through VMock ( which is a Virtual Resume Assistant system. It gives you instant feedback on your resume or CV. Then, for in-person (or Zoom meeting due to COVID-19) feedback session, make an appointment with an expert (


Other helpful resources:

I hope these resources and tips help you out.

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