Post Academic

CV vs. Resume: The Grudge Match!

Posted in Process Stories,Transfer Your Skills by Arnold Pan on June 4, 2010
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"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…


The Post Academic CV series: Finishing touches

Posted in Process Stories,The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on June 3, 2010
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So while Caroline has been helping you get in the right mindset to compose a resume, I’ve been running on a parallel track, offering some tips on finetuning your CV.  I’m not sure I’m really an expert on the matter beyond having some hands-on experience with my own CV, but I have seen a lot of CVs and figured bringing together all that I’ve learned about ’em might be helpful for folks trying to seek out some starting points on putting one together.

Now that our hypothetical CV has incorporated all the basic elements and has been given a little dork bling to help it stand out, here are some final tips to help you maximize the utility of the CV you’ve come up with.  A lot of what I discuss today has to do with editing, although, if you followed the earlier steps, you hopefully already have a clean, crisp CV to work with.

"Shoulder Pads" by TimmyTruck (Creative Commons license)

To Pad or Not to Pad: I’ve mentioned this before, and the decision you make on what and how much to put on your CV depends a lot on what you have to work with.  If you’re, say, a younger grad student and you just haven’t had the experience and time to accrue many achievements, go for broke and include whatever you have.  Think of the CV as a learning experience that’s end in itself, rather than means to something else.

If you’re not, I’d suggest erring on the side of concision and discretion–but that might be because I didn’t have a lot of things to pad with and I’m of a mind that winning some undergrad award doesn’t really matter in the larger scheme of things.  To put it another way, if you’ve made it to a grad program and are ABD, your CV audience can take it for granted that you’re reasonably smart, so that best-paper-written-by-a-sophomore award is probably overkill.  Here’s another blunter way to put it: If you don’t have the goods after just starting the first chapter of your diss to be a competitive candidate for a tenure-track position against someone who’s almost done and has publications, there’s no amount of embellishing your CV that’s going to give you a realistic shot at things–unless there are somehow more jobs than people who work in that field or you don’t mind flat-out lying!

More “padding” below the fold…


The Post Academic CV series: How to stand out

Posted in Process Stories,The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on June 2, 2010
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"Stand Out Fit In" by The Basics (Public Domain)

Yesterday, we discussed the basics that every CV should include, mostly as a service to younger academics who haven’t put one together yet, but also as a refresher course for any folks who might be looking to give the one they already have a makeover.  This time, I’ll discuss what it takes to package up the info you have to help it stand out a little more in a stack of a couple hundred CVs.  Again, the best thing to make a CV a great one is, of course, awesome content, like lots of publications, awards, and conference papers.  But that doesn’t mean folks with fewer achievements can’t come up with a strong CV that can stand out, whether that’s in form or content or–hopefully–both.

Highlight Your Strengths: I mentioned this yesterday when discussing how to organize the basic sections of your CV, suggesting that there’s no set-in-stone way put it all together.  Another way to think about the order of things on your CV is to foreground your best assets, while not completely doing away with those elements of your background you might not consider as strong.  For, say, a relatively new grad student who hasn’t had a chance to publish a lot, that means placing your “Awards and Fellowships” first, especially if you have some swanky sounding titles.  Just be sure to put *something* down for “Publications”, if for no other reason than to show whoever’s looking at the document that you are aware of their importance and that you are functioning, working academic–even when you yourself don’t feel that way!

More ways to stand out below the fold…


The Post Academic CV series: Getting started

Posted in Process Stories,The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on June 1, 2010
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"Delphi Stadium Starting Line" by David Monniaux (Creative Commons license)

Caroline is offering great advice for Post Academics trying to convert their CVs into resumes, but I thought it might also be helpful to provide some tips on how to put together a CV, especially for younger scholars who don’t have one yet and need one to apply for fellowships and/or are about to venture onto the job market for the first time.  Or also, if you’re not quite ready to let go of the psychological baggage of your CV and, particularly your publications.  Just think of the blog like that Gwyneth Paltrow movie I never saw, which follows her character on 2 different life paths, signified by her having different hair styles–except in our cases, it’s with resumes and CVs!

Now, I have to start with a disclaimer that my CV never garnered me a tenure-track position, but I can say this for myself: It probably did play a role in getting some plum interviews and, if nothing else, it looked good.  While, of course, the actual qualifications matter the most, how you organize the CV and how you highlight your strengths do make a difference.  This is especially true when you don’t have a lot of material to work with, mostly because you just haven’t been in academia for a long time.  Here are some tips on how to get started

The Basics: There are some categories that every CV needs, even if you aren’t quite able to fill something in under every heading.  We can discuss how you can do that later, but here are the basics that you should cover…

Education: This should be an easy way to start, listing your degrees and potential degrees, starting with the most current one first.  It gets tricky if you have to include a proposed date for finishing your Ph.D.: Just be realistic about it, in case you’re asked to talk about it in an interview or if your recommenders have to vouch for you.

Publications: I list publications next, because I now have some.  If you don’t, try to get that essay you’ve been working on forever out to a journal, so you can list something as “under review”.  I’ve been told that’s a little bit important, if for no other reason than it shows you are productive, even when no decision on it has been made.

Awards and Fellowships: For younger scholars who have won awards and have a fellowship, you could place this category ahead of publications, especially if you have some impressive lines here.  Again, reverse chronological order here.

More basics below the fold…