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By Catherine Connors, Keely Lake, and John Paulas

1. CV for Applications to Faculty Positions

2. CV for Applications to K-12 Positions

3. Résumé for Positions beyond the Classroom

4. Cover Letter for Faculty Positions

5. Cover Letter for Positions Beyond the Classroom

6. Get Help

7. A Word of Encouragement

As you embark on a job search in academia or beyond the classroom, it is important to be aware of the distinction between a résumé and a CV as discussed below. Both a résumé and a CV should be a clean-looking and consistent document that represents your strengths in a way that is suited to the position for which you are applying.

1. CV for Applications to Faculty Positions

A CV for applications to faculty positions is an up-to-date, scrupulously accurate, and concise account of what you have done rather than an expression of what you expect to do or are capable of (those issues can be addressed in the cover letter). CVs for academic job applications by early career scholars should be one or two sides of a page. Ensure that every detail of content, format, spelling and grammar is accurate and that the formatting allows readers to see clearly what you want to emphasize.

The following elements should be included, typically in this order:

Contact information: Name, address, email, and telephone number.

Special interests: 3-5 areas that show the focus and range of the candidate's preparations and highlight areas of expertise without being too narrowly defined. See further Connolly, Going on the Marketsection 4.4.

Education: Institution, degree, dates. List the most recent degrees first.

Title of Dissertation, Advisor

Employment and Teaching Experience: Institution, rank, dates. List the most recent experience first.

Publications: If you have publications list them here, most recent first. Distinguish clearly among work that is published, forthcoming (i.e. has been accepted by the press in its final form and is in production), and accepted for publication. Book reviews should be listed separately. In some circumstances it may also be appropriate to include work that has been submitted for publication. Major projects that are in an advanced state of preparation can be listed; they can also be discussed in the cover letter.

Awards(if received): Title, institution, dates.

Teaching Experience: Institution; subjects or course titles. It is best not to include specific course numbers for courses taught. For teaching experience during graduate study, clearly identify stand-alone courses where you were the instructor of record and courses where you served as a teaching assistant in a large lecture course, or other situations.

(Selected) Papers delivered: If the space constraints of one to two sides of a page make it impossible to include all papers delivered, select those that demonstrate your range.

Service: If you have contributed departmental, university, or disciplinary service on committees, etc., it can be included here.

Credentials: Contact information for credentials repository.

References: Name, address, telephone number, email address.

Additional Information: If desired and if space permits. Some candidates provide information about their citizenship.

2. CV for Applications to K-12 Positions

In thinking about a CV for a K-12 position, consider it an academic job with a twist. You do not need to itemize every hobby and minor talent that you have, but if you have coaching or athletic ability—especially such that you would like to use—you should mention it. If you have experience guiding clubs, note that experience. Do not make this an effort to pad your CV, but rather work to bring out skills which might come in handy for after school activities or a residential life setting. Be careful, however; if you list it, you might well be asked to do it, so only add what you are prepared to do at your new school. Most of all, heed the advice of any search agency with which you are working (Carney Sandoe, etc.).

3. Résumé for Positions beyond the Classroom

The first thing to know about résumés you will use for jobs in almost every sector is that they are not the CV that you use to apply for faculty positions. A résumé is an expression of your professional identity and work experience on a single or double-sided page. This is why the education section, so prominently displayed in the academic CV is at the end of the résumé. You cannot have every job at once, so a jack-of-all-trades identity is not helpful: résumés should be tailored to the job description and industry.


In terms of your professional identity, a summary section to start is helpful. Use this short section of a couple of sentences to position yourself for the job to which you are applying. After this, you could include, if you like, a short section with key competencies that you have.

Apply these practices to all of your online materials as well.

Work Experience

This is the heart of the résumé, and, in truth, the most important part: the list of job experiences, most recent first. Your long stint in grad school may make you feel like this section should be blank. But these experiences need not be employment with a grand title. If you have grants, work in student government, or are in charge of organizing a lecture series, just think of all of the budgeting, administration, teamwork and collaboration, marketing and community outreach experience you can show. Use numbers, whether amounts or percentages, to show how much of a program you managed and how well you managed it. If you oversaw undergraduates, no, not in the classroom, but in a supervisory or supervisory-like capacity, say as research assistants, show this bit of experience.

Leave It On

In résumés, the education summary goes at the end. In this section, please do not eliminate your PhD from your résumé. It is tempting to think this is a good idea, but frankly, many people who you might deal with do not even know the difference between a PhD and any other advanced degree. Truly entry-level positions will be very tough to come by anyway given your experience. After all, you really are not just out of undergrad. If you are really hoping for a job for which you have absolutely no experience or demonstrable aptitude, then we may need to approach things differently, by any means necessary: contract work to build up experience, certifications, part-time work, volunteer work, anything to show that you are part of the world into which you endeavor to enter.

A Note on Technology

An important step of any PhD career search is getting your résumé in front of human eyes.

Do not stress over machine reading or HR systems. It is a distraction, most of all because you will often meet with great frustration in sending in applications without having a human referral. Someone at the company or organization who is part of your new community of professional people will help you get your résumé in front of human eyes and give you tips on putting your best foot forward in your materials. Internal recruitment of new employees like you through referrals is a preferred form of hiring today. Employees may be given incentives or even have it as part of their job description nowadays to do such work.

However, human eyes do scan the internet, so make sure your online profiles are clear and communicative.

Keep It Clean

Recruiters and hiring managers have seen countless résumés and scan them very quickly. But what an eye can take in in a matter of seconds is remarkable. Expert reviewers of résumés notice details of formatting, spelling, and grammar in a split second. Format your résumé so it is as clean, consistent, and error-free as possible.

4. Cover Letter for Faculty Positions

The cover letter that you submit as part of an application for an academic job supplements rather than duplicates the CV. In it you have an opportunity to represent yourself by describing your overall trajectory and approaches to teaching and research, including future directions. It is useful to tailor versions of the cover letter for research institutions and for smaller colleges. In terms of structure, hiring committees typically find it useful to have a paragraph about the dissertation, a paragraph about research beyond the dissertation, and a paragraph about teaching experience and goals for future teaching. Letters can be customized to respond to priorities expressed in a job advertisement and on a hiring department's web site. A final paragraph can provide information on the candidate's credentials and contact information. Cover letters are typically no more than one and a half or at most two sides of a page, and you should strive to make them engaging to read and completely free of errors. The detailed advice in Connolly, Going on the Marketsection 4.5 is recommended.

5. Cover Letter for Positions Beyond the Classroom

As is the case with the résumé, the first thing to know about any cover letter for positions beyond the classroom is that it is not the cover letter which you use to apply for faculty positions. Make clear in the cover letter why you are a fit for the needs of the organization through the work of this job and what your interest is in the position. Illustrate with short and compelling examples of successes you have had and problems you have solved. To communicate clearly how you make complete sense for the job the organization needs to fill is of the essence for those hiring you and for your own sake as you go forward with the interviewing process.

N.B. Because of hiring practice and sheer volume, in certain industries these days, such as the tech industry in general, the cover letter is widely ignored in favor of the résumé. Ask a person in the specific industry for advice on the relative importance.

6. Get Help

Seek help beyond this guide. Yes, you need help with your materials.

For the academic job search, you should show the CV and samples of the cover letter to your advisor and recommendation writers; they are often able to offer specific suggestions to help ensure that the CV and cover letter present your work in an effective and compelling way.

For the job search beyond the classroom, it is best to ask a person from the new community of professionals which you are developing to take a look at your résumé. The most obvious place to go right now as you develop that professional community is to loved ones who have jobs which required résumés. They may not be résumé experts, but if they have a job of the type that does not require an academic CV, they have written a résumé or, even better, they participate in the hiring process and, therefore, see other people’s résumés all the time. If there is a trusted person in your life in a position of some responsibility, certainly ask them for help.

For a fee, there are a couple of wonderful résumé doctors in the US who understand our particular situation as PhDs. If you like free and DIY, materials from Kelly Anne Brown’s groundbreaking Humanists@Work programming include résumé writing instructional resources available on the University of California Humanities Research Institute website. Jared Redick, a résumé expert, career coach, and former executive headhunter, regularly offered guidance in the Humanists@Work series on converting a CV to a résumé. You can view one of his presentation here or on YouTube.

7. A Word of Encouragement

Whether a résumé or cover letter, know that an error or inconsistency in formatting is really not the end of the world by any means, but that the care that you have taken and your fit for a position will shine through. Creating and submitting materials that you feel proud of makes for great boost in confidence. In the end, the person for whom these materials make the most important difference is you!