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When it Comes to CVs, One Size Does Not Fit All

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A curriculum vitae, or CV, is a tool of self presentation. Recognize this and you'll be more likely to craft an effective CV. Nearly all CVs are contain the same basic elements: data on your experiences, skills, and achievements. However, CVs should vary in format. One template is not right for all applicants. One CV template won't fill the needs of even one applicant.

Tailor Your CV to Each Position
If you want to be successful in your job search, you'll need to tailor your CV to fit each position. For example, suppose you were to apply to a faculty position as an assistant professor, which is an entry-level faculty position. Not all assistant professor positions are the same. There are many types of institutions. Some value teaching, such as liberal arts colleges, comprehensive public universities, or community colleges. Others are research intensive institutions, such as doctoral-granting institutions. Others colleges blend both research and teaching, but still emphasize one over the other, such as a liberal arts college where teaching is valued but faculty are expected to publish, often with their students as coauthors. Each of these institutions hire assistant professors, but they look for people with different skill sets and interests. How do you show your fit to the institution and position? Use your CV.

It's All About Spin
All applicants to faculty positions have at least some teaching and research experience. As graduate students we're often told to place information about our research, such as publications, at the front of our CVs, but this advice is more effective for some institutions than others. How applicants portray their experiences should vary with the institution and position to which they are applying. For example, consider a position at a college that highly values teaching and places less emphasis on research. If you're applying to such a position your CV should clearly convey your teaching experience, achievements, and interests -- and this information must not be buried at the end of your CV, as is the case with applicants. You might organize your CV as follows:

  • Contact Information
  • Education
  • Teaching Experience
  • Courses Prepared to Teach
  • Courses Interested in Developing
  • Research Experience
  • Grants
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Scholarly Awards
Applicants to positions emphasizing research should put information about their research experiences and achievements early in their CV:
  • Contact Information
  • Education
  • Research Experience
  • Grants
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Scholarly Awards
  • Teaching Experience
  • Courses Prepared to Teach
  • Courses Interested in Developing
As you can see, CVs that emphasize research and those that emphasize teaching contain the same sets of information. How you present your experience tells employers and hiring committees about your interests and priorities. Applicants to teaching-oriented positions can convey the value they place on teaching by presenting it early in their CV. Those who apply to research-oriented positions should submit CVs that emphasize their research experience and aptitude. Give hiring committees what they want to see by tailoring your CV accordingly and you'll be more likely to get an interview.

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