Post Academic

CV vs. Resume: The Grudge Match!

Posted in Process Stories,Transfer Your Skills by Arnold Pan on June 4, 2010
Tags: , ,

"Fight on Snow" by su neko (Creative Commons license)

So it’s not quite Alien vs. Predator, but we figured we could end our respective serieses (plural of series?) with a little compare-and-contrast.  You can think of the comparison between a CV and a resume along the lines of my posts vs. Caroline’s this week: the latter are longer and (overly) detailed, while the former are short and sweet and to the point.  We understand that it can be hard to make the conversion from a CV to a resume, since it’s not just a matter of translating your skills and reformatting the way you describe them.  There’s also some emotional baggage attached to the CV, as if cutting loose your publications and conference papers is the same as making them disappear forever.  Don’t worry–they’re still there and they’re still significant accomplishments.

But if you really want to make a full conversion, just try starting over and seeing what you come up with.  That CV is always saved to your hard drive, so you can always go back to it when you want.  And take solace if you can’t cut the cord quite yet, because you have lots and lots of good company.  To paraphrase Susan Basalla of So What Are You Going to Do with That? fame, the worst thing to prepare you for the hamster world job market is being on the academic job market.  So think of the exercise of putting together a resume as a process of unlearning and relearning the rhetorical skills you obviously possess and can command.

Read below the fold for some key points to compare and contrast in our CV vs. resume battle royale…


CV: As long as possible, especially if you have the goods.  But as I pointed out yesterday, pad the CV within reason, OK?

Resume: Keep what’s most relevant, but keep it short.  As Caroline explains, you don’t have to subscribe to the 1-page rule, but, if you know you’re long-winded, why not aim for it as an intellectual exercise?  If it goes a little longer, that’s fine.  Be ready to cut your publications and the finer points of your teaching experience, unless they are directly related to the job you’re applying for.  Your conference papers and random awards?–they were gone in the last draft.


CV: Degrees matter and so do when and where you get them.  Again, you can provide a little added oomph if you like, with a brief line or two about your dissertation research and who’s on your committee.  Any more than that, just remember you’ve written a cover letter and are probably submitting an unsolicited dissertation abstract along with your application.  Just don’t fudge the dates too much, if you’re in “degree expected” limbo.

Resume: Just the facts, maam/man.  Caroline discusses the education section of the resume here.


CV: It seems self-explanatory and, more or less, a given what skills you have and need to be an academic.  It’s baked into your publications, conferencing, and teaching.  In the case of the first two, the titles and venues are probably satisfactory.  But with your teaching, you might want to add a sentence or two describing what you did and how you managed the course, to display a little administrative flair when possible.  For younger scholars applying for teaching intensive jobs, it’s not a bad idea to show what and how you teach.

Resume: Caroline already touched on this today, but this is a heading where you can really translate your academic skills on your own terms.  Explain succinctly how your academic skills transfer to the hamster world.  Be concrete, quantifying abilities you’ve only thought about on qualitative terms.  How many students have you managed–er, taught?  How many pages of text have you edited–er, graded–over a given quarter?  How many work presentations–er, lectures and  conferences–do you give every week?  If you’ve been at a loss over how to explain the practical aspects of being an academic to skeptics, friends, and family, this is your time to go “in your face” to them.


CV: We’ll talk about this more the closer we get to the job academic cycle, but one of the most anxiety inducing parts of applying for a tenure-track job is maintaining your dossier of recs.  What makes this tough is that your recommenders, who always end up doing a great job (at least in my case), might not be working on the same schedule you are.  References seem to hold such great weight for academics, especially because they mean acceptance–or maybe rejection–from the people who matter most to you: your mentors.

Resume: You probably don’t even need to include them, unless you’re asked to.  The standard line “References upon request” is standard for a reason.  And when a potential employer does get in touch with your references, it’s more often than not just to make sure you are who you say are and that you’re not crazy.  It’s a good idea to keep this in mind before you invest the psychic energy and emotional attachment to hamster world references that you do to academic letters of rec.

2 Responses to 'CV vs. Resume: The Grudge Match!'

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  1. A great article; we recent ask a large group of employers how long a job hunters CV/resume [***EDITOR’S NOTE: CV should read RESUME, since this comment comes from the UK***] should be? All the employers said a [resume] needs to be only one or two pages long. When we asked the reason behind this, the employers said they often receive hundreds of [resumes] for every one advertised job. To save time employers will first quickly “skim” through the [resume] for around 30 seconds, to decide if the [resume] is good enough to make through to the next round (often 20 [resumes] are taken to the 2nd round) where they will be read in more detail. If your [resume] is longer then 2 pages, employers are likely to miss some of your essential criteria and this can easily result in you not gaining a job interview. Keep you [resume] brief but to the point and record information relevant to the specific job you are applying for.

  2. uk jobs said,

    Great post, getting someone to review it is critical! Also, you always need to keep your resume fresh and updated with your most recent skills. Always keep an eye on the trends (video resumes, etc)

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