Interviewer holding a resume in front of an applicant.

Resumes and CVs

The resume or CV provides a summary of your education, experience and who you are as a professional. They're used to introduce yourself to the employer, illustrate your qualifications and earn you an interview.

What's a resume or CV?

Did you know that the word resume is derived from the French word, resumer? It means to "sum up", which is exactly the purpose of the current-day resume. The resume and the closely-related curriculum vitae (CV) are essential items for your career. Think of them as marketing documents that show a potential employer what relevant skills, education and accomplishments you have that will benefit them. They should demonstrate your talents and abilities for a specific job and show that you can and want to do the job.

As you progress through life and your career, you'll gain experience and skills that you can add to your resume/CV, so it's important to keep it updated and targeted to each position you apply for.

What's the difference?


  • Competency-based
  • Provides a selection of skills and relevant experiences tailored to the role
  • Ideally one to two pages
  • Business-focused; mainly used for non-academic positions
  • Content and style are equally important
  • References not included


  • Credential-based
  • Provides a full list of your education, research experience, publications and certifications
  • No page limit
  • Typically used to apply for academic and research positions
  • Stronger focus on content vs. style
  • References included

Resume basics

Resumes commonly contain sections that are related to your skills, education, experience and personal interests/involvement. The most common sections of a resume are your profile, skills and experience.

Check out our examples of section headers that you can use on your resume for some ideas to get started.

If you don’t already have a resume, here is a General Resume Template to get you started.

This section is typically at or near the top of your resume. It should summarize your skills, achievements and goals for this job/your career. 


Your skills summary should be a short overview of the abilities you have that are most related to the job you're applying for. Keeping it separate helps ensure that key skills stand out from the more detailed experience section.

This is where you can list your previous work experience, including the roles you've held and which companies you've worked for. It provides a more detailed timeline of your career growth.

Be sure to list the job title, company name and location. Include details about your primary responsibilities, outcomes you contributed to, achievements and other aspects of your work that are relevant to the job you're applying for.

CV basics



A CV may be required when applying for:

  • Teaching and/or research opportunities
  • Fellowships or further academic training
  • Grants or contracts funding proposals
  • Membership in a professional society or organization

A CV contains your contact information, education, experience and achievements, just like a resume.

However, a CV more academically-focused, and may also include:

  • Honours and awards
  • Teaching experiences
  • Research experiences
  • Professional qualifications or certifications
  • Presentations
  • Publications
  • Professional memberships

One major difference is that a CV isn't limited to one or two pages as it requires more detail.

CVs don't have a preferred format or style, but your department/supervisor may have expectations, so be sure to ask!


  • Whatever formatting you choose, keep it consistent between sections (e.g. dates, titles, company/institution)
  • Have clearly-defined section headers, so it's easy to skim
  • Section headers can be titled strategically and placed in any order
    • Exception: Publications are typically near the end of the document

    Tips for creating an effective resume or CV

    Tailor it to the job

    Find direct links between your resume/work experience and the job you're applying for. Use keywords and skills for the industry/occupation you’re interested in to make it more specific. ALIS has a list of occupational profiles you can review to find keyword inspiration.


    Occupational profiles on ALIS

    Do your research

    Find out as much as possible about the job and company you are applying to. This will aid in tailoring the language in your resume to the job.

    Be action-oriented

    Using action-oriented language in your resume delivers more impact to the reader. For example, saying, "I do this" is more powerful and straightforward than, "this is done by me".

    To see them in action—pun intended—below are some accomplishment statements using action verbs.

    Examples of active accomplishment statements

    A hand holding a highlighter, using it on a printed piece of paper

    Get a second look

    Send your resume or cover letter for review from a career development specialist!

    Complete the checklist linked below and then send it with your resume to

    Download the checklist

    Sample resumes

    Please note that although samples are listed by faculty, that doesn't mean that you have to use that format. Choose what suits you (and the job) best.