The CV

I’m officially on the job market.  And so begins the task of cleaning up my job application materials.  

I’ve started with my CV, and wanted to share some of the things that I’ve learned while doing this.  Maybe you don’t agree, but this is what works for me:

  1. The CV is not for me.  Highlighting the things important to me (for example, my undergraduate research in conjunction with an abstract algebra class) is not as important as highlighting the things important to the people reading it.  This means that I had to move my internship with Lockheed Martin up to the first page instead of the last.  Readers expect to see all of the work experience together, so give it to them.  Leaving the ones that I don’t think fit as well into my story (since I was not working on computational topology at LMCO) until the end is confusing to the reader.
  2. Important points should not be lost.  Burying my Goldwater scholarship among being on the deans list, being a member of various honor societies, and receiving other university-based scholarships plays down how big the Goldwater was.  Placement is key.
  3. Categories are vital.  In order to help the reader navigate the paper, categorize.  If a category gets to big (or, as in point 2, becomes too heterogeneous), then divide categories.
  4. Keep items concise.  There is no page limit on the CV, but don’t waste space.  I try to keep each item on one or two lines.  So, when the book reviews I voluntarily wrote were taking 5 lines, this was disproportional to my just-over-one-line single-author journal paper.  So, I figured out a way to have them on 2 lines (namely, by creating a category for book reviews).  Also, white space makes the CV look more organized and easier to read.
  5. You will outgrow certain items in your CV.  At one point, I listed every conference that I had attended.  At the beginning of grad school, this made sense.  Now, my CV is long enough without this list, so I only list the conferences/workshops that are selective: either by invitation only or ones to which I had to apply.
  6. Approach the CV with new eyes.  When I have someone else look at my CV, they often provide useful feedback.  I tell them to give me all feedback that they may have.  I like to listen to all options, and filter out the ones that don’t work for me.  This also goes back to point 1.  If something is confusing to even one of my friends/colleagues who look at my CV, it will be confusing to someone of the review committee.  (I’m welcome to more suggestions as well).

As I said, this is what worked for me.  #1 in my list was the hardest thing for me to deal with.  But, once I realized this, I made a few small changes that had a huge impact on the readability of my CV for someone who is not me.

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2 Responses to “The CV”

  1. Business Writing: “Enclosed Please Find” Means You Lost It (Reblog) | Brittany's Blog Says:

    […] not the only one putting together”my package” (cover letter + research statement + teaching statement + publication list + 3-6 references  + … ) for […]

  2. First Official Rejection Letter | Brittany's Blog Says:

    […] deadline, with only one of those dates really posted.  The application consists of a CV, a research statement, and a teaching statement.  Some schools additionally require a […]

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