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CV workshop recap

Our first meeting of 2018 was a CV workshop led by Emily Delaney and Emily Josephs. We discussed general tips on how to write a CV or resume, looked at several example CVs and resumes, and then broke into small groups to comment on our own CVs.

The discussion started with motivating why it’s important to have a good CV/resume. CVs are used for a variety of purposes throughout our careers. For example, CVs are an important component of grant, fellowship, and job applications. CVs can help with introductions, from expressing interest in joining a lab for graduate school to forming new collaborations. You will want to include your CV when asking for a reference letter or applying for a talk in a special symposium. Finally, CVs published on personal websites or networking sites such as LinkedIn increase your web presence and may lead to new collaboration/job opportunities.

Given the various functions of a CV/resume, a good CV/resume must convey who you are, what you’ve accomplished, where you’re going, and why you’re great. For job applications, your CV/resume also needs to show how you fit the advertised position. Your CV therefore needs to be constantly updated – you will want to add and/or remove items as you accumulate more accomplishments, and you may want to tailor your CV for a particular job (more on this later). Tips include keeping a folder on your Desktop to store your accomplishments for a given year, keeping a “long version” of your CV that has detailed information for all your accomplishments ever to serve as a reference. A key point here is that making a CV often feeds imposter syndrome, but it can also combat it.

Typical sections of an academic CV include Appointments, Education, Publications, Fellowships/Awards & Honors, Funding/Grants, Teaching Experience, Research Experience, Presentations, and Professional Activities. Some people divide Presentations into Invited vs Contributed Presentations. Other sections to include are Professional Training (to list special workshops/courses you’ve taken) and References. The number and order of sections on your CV will change with career stage and with the purpose of that particular CV. For instance, graduate students may want to include a section on relevant research experience (internships, etc.), but this section is often omitted once you reach the postdoc/faculty stage. You can order the sections to place your strengths up front. A CV for a research job may list Publications and Grants near the beginning, but a CV for a teaching job may have Teaching Experience first.

When putting together or editing your CV, it can be helpful to search the web for examples. Here are some general comments from our discussion of different example CVs: Whitespace is important. Make the different sections clear, use consistent bolding/italicizing to make it easier for someone to quickly find key information (but don’t overdo it), and minimize redundancy. Serif fonts are easier to read, and make sure your font size isn’t too small or too big. If you want to add hyperlinks to publications without introducing a blue underlined link (which is distracting), you could hyperlink your name in the author list. Other tips include numbering your publications, adding the dollar amounts for grants, and using asterisks to denote co-authors who are mentees.

Since not everyone will be applying to just academic jobs, we also talked about how to convert a typical academic CV into a resume for industry or government positions. Because of the variation in resume formats and requirements, the best thing to do is to talk to someone who works for the same organization. In general, resumes tend to be limited to two pages in length. You can shorten your CV by replacing your full publication or presentation list with highlights (Select Publications) and a summary (give total number of publications and citations). Tailoring your resume to the job ad seems especially important for non-academic jobs that undergo an initial screening by HR. Make sure your resume shows that you have all the expertise specified in the job ad and includes relevant keywords. You can even include a section on Select Relevant Skills or begin your resume with a short description of how you fit the job. Unlike academic CVs, resumes often emphasize both hard and soft skills. You can point out technical skills and collaboration or teamwork experience under work experience or a separate skills section. Your cover letter is another venue for you to demonstrate why you’re the best person for the job.

For more resources, including a handy verb list, check out http://icc.ucdavis.edu.

Finally, it’s also useful to use other professional networking tools, such as personal websites, LinkedIn, github, Google Scholar profiles, and social media.

Nancy Chen