Grad Students: Resume or CV?

As you apply for jobs, either a resume or CV may be requested. Use the following information to help you identify key differences between a resume and a CV to determine which you will need.

Resume

Purpose: To promote your unique qualifications for private and public sector jobs.

Length: 1-2 pages, depending on your experience and industry.

Content: Highlight job-related skills and relevant experiences; focus on your accomplishments.

Writing Your Resume: Please refer to the following links to resume writing guides and samples: Effective Resumes, Cover Letters, and LinkedIn Profiles.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

In the United States, a curriculum vitae (CV) is used for documenting and promoting scholarly and professional experiences when applying for academic (faculty), research positions, academic postdoctoral research opportunities, grants, and fellowships. Based on reviewing your CV, an academic committee might choose to invite you to interview for available academic positions.

CV Basics: CVs vary from discipline to discipline. It is recommended to reference the CVs of others in your field (fellow grad students, postdocs in your lab, new faculty in your department) and have your advisor review them as well.

Length: 2-3 pages toward the earlier stages of your career; additional pages can be added as you further your career.

Content: Tailor experiences to highlight your fit with a specific role, department, or institution.  Standard CV sections include Education, Teaching Experience, Research Experience, Honors and Awards, Professional/Volunteer Experience, Publications, Presentations, Scholarly/Professional Affiliations, Research Interests, Extracurricular Activities, Licensing/Registration/Certifications, Grants/Fellowships, University Service, Technical Skills, and References.

Always keep in mind that every CV should include information about your education and relevant professional experience. The organization or layout of your CV should reflect your experience in reverse chronological order (list most recent experience first, and then go back in time) and put the most important information on the first page of the CV so it stands out easily to the reader. As a general rule, whatever is most important for the hiring committee to know should command the most space toward the top of your CV. Make sure your CV is clear and concise.  Lastly, if you are applying for positions in different types of institutions or departments, you will probably need more than one version of your CV.

Writing Your CV

Getting Started:

  • Before drafting your CV, it is a good practice to review your qualifications and the qualifications listed on the job/announcement of your interest. Using the categories suggested (i.e. Research Experience, Publications, Presentations, etc.), list everything that will connect your experience to the qualifications of the job. This is a great time to inventory your expertise, skills, and accomplishments that are relevant and connect them to the needs of the job at hand. The organization of your CV will depend on each application/job and the experience you want to highlight right away.
  • Once you have found the job you want to apply for, it is important to understand and utilize specific industry/institution terminology throughout your CV so the reader is able to easily understand your qualifications in relation to their industry.
  • Review the job description/announcement thoroughly and note the requirements/qualifications the employer/hiring institution is seeking. This is a time to be mindful and get into the practice of using the keywords mentioned throughout the job description.
    • Please note: In today’s employment market, your CV may be screened with an Applicant Tracking System software (ATS) by HR professionals. These systems manage high volumes of job applications electronically. For recruiters, it streamlines the recruiting/hiring process and helps to identify quality applicants. ATS will electronically scan your CV, score your qualifications based on the description for that position, and rank your application.

CV Layout

  • The simpler the layout and format the easier your CV is to read.
  • Stick with using standard fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, Century, Helvetica, or Verdana in sizes 10, 11, or 12.
  • Avoid using fonts smaller than size 10.
  • Include your name on every page and add a page number to your CV. For example Tommy Trojan, page 1 of 3.
  • Highlight areas you want to emphasize by indenting, capitalizing, spacing, and bolding.

Categories:

  • Contact Information: Include your name, address (listing only city and state is acceptable), phone number, and email. Include your LinkedIn address and any online portfolios or websites, if appropriate. Contact information always comes first and is placed at the top of your CV.
  • Education: List the education category first, in reverse chronological order (listing your most current program back to your undergraduate experience). Items to include: Name of institution and date degrees were awarded. If you are currently in a degree program list the date you expect to receive the degree. If you will not be completing your degree for a while, highlight completion dates of important objectives such as passing qualifying exams and coursework completed. If you are a Postdoctoral student, you may want to reflect on relevant experience first before listing education.
    • Additional details to consider adding in this category: academic focus and title of dissertation or thesis
  • Experience: This category is the space where you will want to highlight experience relevant to the job or announcement. Keep in mind the audience of employers you want to attract to your skills and expertise.
    • For faculty positions, typical categories are “Teaching Experience” or “Research Experience”. Provide an overview of the accomplishments you attained in each category.
    • For industry positions, the suggested categories are “Professional Experience” or “Relevant Experience”. Provide an overview of the accomplishments you attained. Use action verbs to highlight skills and accomplishments that match keywords found in the job description.
      • Accomplishment bullet format: Action verb (stating what you did) + How you did it + Result (Quantify if possible $, #, %)
  • Honors and Awards: Depending on how significant or prestigious your award and/or the number of awards you have, you may include them under the “Education” section. Otherwise, you can create a separate section and include a brief explanation.
  • Publications and Presentations: List information in this section in reverse chronological order. Publications may include books, book chapters, articles, and book reviews. Include all of the information about each publication, including the title, journal title, date of publication, and (if applicable) page numbers. It is recommended to have separate sections if you have a long list. Consider subdividing by topic as needed: peer review papers, reviews, poster presentations, conferences, and invited talks. 
  • Scholarly/Professional Affiliations: List memberships in societies and professional organizations in your discipline. You might include your active involvement in the organization even if you do not hold a leadership role. For example, highlight your contribution to specific projects and events. In addition, you may want to reference your participation in moderating a panel.
  • Grants/Fellowships: This category is where you list significant funding you have received. Include the funding agency and the project(s) that were funded. The work performed in support of the grant can be noted in detail under “Experience.” List internships and fellowships, including organization, title, and dates.
  • Research Interests: This category answers the “What’s Next” question
  • Extracurricular Activities: List your involvement in student organizations, alumni groups, and charity organizations, to name a few.
  • Licensing/Registration/Certifications: List type of license, certification, or accreditation, and date received.
  • University Service: Include any service you have done for your department, such as serving as a student advisor, acting as chair of a department, or providing any other administrative assistance/projects.
  • Technical Skills: This category highlights your knowledge of software programs, foreign languages, social media, etc.
  • References: Depending on your field, you might include a list of your references at the end of your CV. Always include your contact information on your reference sheet and it is recommended to title it, for example, “References for Tommy Trojan”. Make sure you ask permission of the person you intend to use as a reference. Always provide complete information about the person on your reference including their preferred degree (Ph.D., MD, CPA, etc.) or a title (Mr., Mrs., Ms.). In your list make sure you include the following: full name, title, department, institution, address, phone, and email.