By Tracy E. Robey
When I wrote my first c.v., I assumed that I just needed to find out how to arrange the headings and dump in my information. The result wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good either.
The main problem was that my models were the c.v.s of distinguished scholars many decades my senior. Whereas the biggest scholars probably don’t need to specify how many sections of Western Civ they’ve taught and how many students take the class, graduate students and newly-minted Ph.D.s can and should volunteer more info to give greater insight into their (more limited) life’s work so far. I now like to think about the c.v. as an argument about my academic life: the things I include and how I list them reflect what I find most important and interesting about my scholarly career so far.
To give you a sense of what a c.v. might look like, I’ve attached a version of my own c.v. with track-changes comments on the various formatting and stylistic choices here:
Sample C.V. with Comments
Four Overarching Issues Students Should Consider When Writing and Revising a C.V.
1) You must be completely honest and precise.
Given the state of the academic job market, search committees report on message boards that they are seeing more fabricated credentials and dishonesty in job applications. What this means for all of us is an increase in the level of scrutiny given to c.v.s. To help readers of your c.v. focus on your accomplishments, make sure that the information you provide is clear and backed by supporting information, if necessary. For example, I was concerned that the Master’s thesis proposal advising I mention under service might raise some red flags if I didn’t specify more, so I gave the student’s last name, the College, and the semester.
2) Don’t disguise gaps in your credentials.
Attempts to disguise gaps in credentials seem to happen most in the publications section, where translations, book reviews, and encyclopedia entries might be used to try to cover a shortage of grade-A, peer-reviewed journal articles. Do not make readers of your c.v. untangle a layer of publication camouflage: give them clear headings that show you know the relative value of academic publications and are making no attempt to mislead or confuse them.
3) Get your teaching title right.
While searching for model c.v.s several years ago, I found students who had ascended to the title of “Professor” before graduating, according to their c.v.s (!). The lesson: it can be complicated to know your own job title at CUNY, but you need to sort it out with HR because people will notice and raise eyebrows if it doesn’t seem right.
4) Don’t pad your c.v.
Do not attempt to “pad” your c.v. by double- or triple-listing accomplishments in multiple sections without very good reasons for doing so. For example, as a Writing Fellow, I attended workshop sessions where graduate students explained how Fellows could list the fellowship in three different places on the document: in awards, work, and teaching. This seems ill-advised. Padding, like credential camouflage mentioned above, will be noticed and met with raised eyebrows. At the very least, padding takes attention away from your most impressive accomplishments.
What are your thoughts on the c.v.? Do you agree or disagree with some of the less orthodox choices I made in the document? Comment below to get the discussion started.