your CV

This is a brief post about how to make your CV.

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a necessity in the academy. It’s needed for most applications for graduate programs, conferences, grants, fellowships, and the like. In brief, a CV is your academic résumé. But, unlike a résumé, you aren’t relying on your CV to get you in the door.  Instead, all you need your CV to do is be accurate, look professional, and take up about a page.

Why these three things? First, you want your CV to be accurate because it isn’t hard to figure out if you’re lying. It’s better, as a junior scholar, to have a brief CV than to have one with false entries. Second, you want it to look professional because you’re trying to look professional. Grad school applications are, in no small part, simply testing whether or not you’ll fit in a professional work environment. As such, your CV should convey the maximum amount of information with the least amount of distractions. This means a non-obtrusive font, clear headings and sub-headings, and only relevant information.

This last point is important because, at this stage in your career, you are expected to have a CV of about a page or less. Your CV should only have information relevant to academic employment, so it should not contain your non-academic employment unless it is exceedingly relevant to your academic work (i.e., work with a relevant NGO or NPO).

For some inspiration, simply track down your favorite academic’s personal or university-affiliated webpage and see if their CV is available. Your CV likely won’t be as extensive as theirs, but it will give you a sense of what exactly goes into one.

Things like:

  • Your name
  • Contact information
  • Education
  • Research interests
  • Publications
  • Fellowships and Awards
  • Appointments
  • Courses Taught
  • Conference Presentations
  • Invited Talks
  • Service Work, and
  • Memberships in Professional Organizations

Unless you’re already a seasoned academic your CV will only have a fraction of these things. Indeed, my own CV is modeled after that of Dr. Tamara K. Nopper (University of Pennsylvania, Temple University), but only has several of the above-mentioned categories.

Now that you know why you have a CV and what goes into one, here is my current CV and here is my very first CV (both with my stalkable details changed). You’ll notice in my earliest CV my anxiety over not having enough things to fill it up, which is why I included an articles section with multiple ‘in progress’ articles when I only had one article written and being considered for publication anywhere (for a conference publication that was subsequently abandoned). Likewise, I included a conference paper that I hadn’t yet given (and never gave because I was rejected for the conference). You’ll also notice that my font and page border preferences have shifted over time.

In short, as time has passed, my CV contained fewer lies, less fluff (same difference), and became more ‘professional’ in appearance. At this stage in your career, your CV should only be notable for not being of distractingly poor quality. This is a minor part of your total application, but it should demonstrate (in appearance just as much as in content) that you are a serious and professional budding scholar.

Because seriousness… and professionalism… and stuff….

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