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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Writing your Curriculum Vitae for a placement

Wikipedia says: A résumé..... also called curriculum vitae or CV, is a document that contains a summary or listing of relevant job experience and education.

But many argue that Resume and CV are different. For academic or research positions, employers frequently want a curriculum vitae (otherwise known as a vita or CV) instead of a resume.

A Curriculum Vitae is a document generally used instead of a resume for an academic audience. Therefore, it is a summary of education and experience qualifications as related to the interests of academia. Ph.D. candidates generally have a two to four page document, due to their limited experience. It develops over time into a comprehensive and lengthy statement detailing professional qualifications and activities. You can easily create a one- or two-page, tightly drawn version and a complete version to use for different purposes.

There are other audiences that will seek a CV (adapted for that audience and purpose) instead of a resume. For instance, a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry seeking a position as a research scientist in a pharmaceutical company would typically use a vita. A Ph.D. in Economics seeking a position at the Commerce Department would also use a vita. If you are uncertain whether to use a CV, ask yourself "Am I sending this document to other Ph.D.s? Is my Ph.D. required for this position? Is my scholarship relevant for this position?" If the answers to those questions are yes, you are probably going to use a CV, which provides more detail about your academic background than a resume.

Writing your Curriculum Vitae

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a summary of your educational and academic background. Its purpose is to outline your credentials for an academic position, fellowship, or grant. Its length can range from 2-4 pages. Please keep in mind each field has a different standard. Ask the faculty in your department for feedback on your CV.

In applying for an academic position, an applicant is asked to submit a CV along with a Dissertation Abstract, a Statement of Research Interests, and a Statement of Teaching Interests. It is important to present a clear and well-organized application. Your goal is to make the search committee want to interview you.

What to include on your CV:

Primary materials

o Applicant Information
o Education
o Dissertation Title and Advisor
o Awards/Honors/Patents
o Grants/Fellowships
o Research Experience
o Teaching Experience
o Publications and Presentations
o Related Professional Experience
o Languages
o Other- Memberships, Associations, Conferences
o References

Supplementary Materials

o Cover Letter
o Dissertation Abstract
o Statement of Research and Scholarly Interests
o Statement of Teaching Interests
o Course lists

Primary Materials

Applicant Information

Your name should appear on the top of each page. On the first page include your name, address, phone number, fax number, and email address. Page numbers should appear on all pages except for the first. When including your email address consider this communication with an employer to be professional. It is advised to avoid "nick names" or "cute" automatic responses. This also applies for phone messages.


In reverse chronological order list all of your degrees from college on, with the name of the institution and date they were awarded. List the date you expect to receive the degree for the program you are currently in. It is standard to list the name of your advisor and your thesis title.

From this point on you have more latitude in shaping the organization of your CV. You should be guided by your strengths, requirements for the job, and conventions of your discipline.

Honors and Awards (Grants, Fellowships and Patents, etc.)

Place Honors/Awards near the top of the CV (unless you have few, then put later or omit). This is a good place to list research-related and dissertation-supported grants, fellowships, awards and patents. Scientists may create a separate section for "Research Grants", which would probably come later in the CV.

Research Experience

Scientists will briefly describe their postdoctoral, doctoral, and possibly undergraduate research. You should include both substance and techniques employed if relevant. List names of the institution, professor, project, and dates. Along with descriptions note any contribution you made (Some scientists append a "Statement of Research Interests")

Teaching Experience

Where you place this section depends on the target institution (i.e. small teaching college) as well as your strengths as a candidate. The basic information should include: Where, What, When you have taught and your titles i.e. teaching fellow or lecturer.

Publications and Presentations

Where you place this section depends on the strength of your publication record. If substantial, it may come first. If too lengthy or short it can come at the end of the CV or have an additional page. Some candidates will subdivide this category into:

o Publications (if have you enough, you can separate this into Books, Abstracts, Reviews, other publications, etc...). Use standard bibliographic form for publications.

o Papers and Presentations. Include dates/locations with titles of your presentations.

Avoid listing published abstracts in with papers. List Abstracts as a separate section. Otherwise, it gives the impression of "padding."

Related Professional Experience

Use this category for any experience that is related to teaching, research, and administration, i.e. conference organizing, tutoring, and committee work.


Accurately assess your knowledge level of a language: native, fluent, proficient or working knowledge.

Optional Sections

o Memberships of Professional Organizations
o Scholarly Associations
o Travel or Study Abroad


Most academics tend to operate within small informal networks, the names of references will convey significant information to most readers. Most applicants will list their references at the end of their CV. Include:

Full name
Institutional address
Telephone address/email/fax

Three references are expected, but you may add more if their evaluations would add significant information

** make sure your references know they are listed and have a copy of your CV**

Supplementary Materials

In addition to the CV, most academic job applications will contain the following:

Cover Letter

A cover letter should be concise and to the point. Certainly no longer than one page. Simply state why you are applying, why you are interested in the position/school, and your relevant background. Let them know you are appending a CV, a statement of research and teaching interests, etc. DO NOT discuss these in the cover letter. Direct them to where they can find the information. Do not bury the information in a three page letter and make them look for it, as they won't. Use your department's letter head and your professional address. Do not use plain paper and your home address-- that's a big red flag (at least in Biology).

Dissertation Abstract

A dissertation abstract is a clear and concise summary of your work, placing it within its scholarly context and noting its contribution to the field. The summary should be comprehensible to people outside your field, but scholarly enough to interest those familiar with your area of expertise (HAVE FACULTY IN AND OUT OF YOUR AREA READ THIS). The summary is typically 1-2 pages appended at the end of your CV and clipped or stapled together with previous pages.

Statement of Research and Scholarly Interests

Scientists are customarily asked to submit a "Statement of Research". This is meant to be a 2-4 page statement of past, current, and future research interests. You should describe your past and present research methodology, lab skills, and results. For the future section, tell the reader what you hope to do for the next 3- 5 years and how you might involve students (undergraduates, graduates, and post-docs) in the work. Normally, this work will follow on the momentum of your own postdoctoral studies, but if it does not (this would be rare) be sure to explain why.

Teaching Interests

A "Statement of Teaching Interests" is typically required as part of the application process for an Assistant Professor position. Tell the reader what you feel competent to teach. If you are applying for a job where teaching biochemistry is one of the requirements as stated in the job ad, then you better be sure you tell them you want to teach biochemistry. This may sound trite, but you would be amazed at the number of people who fail to follow this seemingly self-evident step.

Course Lists/Transcript

Occasionally applicants are asked to submit a list of their graduate courses or a transcript.

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