Grad Tips on Resumes, CVs

A common question for graduate students is whether to use a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) during the job search process. (Undergraduates will use a resume.) In essence, both contain a summary of your work experience and qualifications.

Generally, a graduate student will use a CV for an academic position and a resume for an industry position. Please read below for more information on when to use a resume and CV. If you still have questions, drop by the Career Center to review your CV or resume style with a career counselor.

A resume or CV should:

  • Get you more, high quality interviews
  • Give employers their first impression of your professional talents
  • Market your skills and abilities
  • Catch an employer's attention
  • Answer key questions
Differences between a Resume and CV
Resume CV
Length A resume is a one or two page summary of your skills, experience and education A CV is a longer, more detailed synopsis (two or more pages)
Content A goal of resume writing is to be brief and concise since the resume reader will spend a minute or so reviewing your qualifications It includes a summary of your educational and academic backgrounds as well as teaching and research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honors, affiliations and other details. The CV is a summary of an individual's educational background and experience as related to the interests of academia. The CV displays your academic credentials and accomplishments in great detail.
Purpose A resume is used to summarize an individual's education and experiences related to a specific career objective in the public or private sector The CV is used when applying for teaching and administrative positions in academia or for a fellowship or grant

Resumes and CVs should be used as a job search tool to land an interview. A CV also can be used as:

  • a supporting document with a grant or contract funding proposal
  • a requirement for an annual review by your employer or with an application for membership in a professional society / organization
  • a background statement for an introduction at an important convention presentation
Categories of a Resume/CV
  • Identifying/Contact Information
  • Summary
  • Education
  • Research Experience
  • Teaching Experience
  • Professional Experience
  • Skills
  • Activities
  • Honors, Interests
  • Service
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Professional Associations

What categories suit you? These are examples, so you do not need to use each one. There may be others that are unique to your background. The very best resumes/CVs are drafted with particular applications in mind, and clearly targeted. As you prepare yours, think about what the organization is likely to value:

  • The quality and quantity of your research (achievement and potential)
  • Your previous experience
  • The ways you have "added value" to your current job or department and made your presence felt
  • Your education
Begin Writing Your Resume/CV with the Reader in Mind
  • Provide relevant information in a format that is easily grasped by the reader
  • Ask yourself: Does each included item enhance the search committee's understanding of my candidacy in regard to the position for which I am applying?
  • Is the CV well-designed, organized and attractively laid out, with appropriate use of bold and italics text?
  • Are categories such as education, teaching and research clearly labeled?
  • Is it easy to find sections of interest to search committee members, such as publications, postdoctoral experience and professional associations?
  • Has your advisor and at least one other person reviewed and critiqued it?
  • Have you avoided using acronyms?
  • Has it been proofread several times to eliminate typographical errors?
  • Don't oversell or undersell your qualifications
  • Be brief, be accurate, be articulate
If You are Uncertain Whether to Use a CV, Ask Yourself:
  • Am I sending this document to other PhDs?
  • Is my PhD required for this position?
  • Is my scholarship relevant to this position?

If the answers are yes, you will probably use a CV, which provides more detail about your academic background than a resume.

Resume and CV Resources