The Vitae: Brewing Academic Experience for Your CV

A key part of the academic application is the vita. Since I mentioned I’m on the job market, a number of peers have asked me, what does my curriculum vitae (CV) look like? My response – it depends. It depends on the type of position – academic or nonacademic – and the institution. For the most part, I have a standard CV that I tailor for my applications and will update as I review my  academic job search spreadsheet o’ fun this week.

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Besides the cover letter, the vitae is probably the most important document for your academic job search. The vitae provides a detailed, yet distinct, review of your academic experiences and background that is chronological, skill-based, and in a combination of formats.

Viva Vita Java

The CV is a presentation of you on paper (for the most part) that highlights your expertise and development as a scholar. Although the organization resembles a resume, a vitae does not have length restrictions and it focuses on your academic experiences (you may want to include non-academic information if it strengthens your CV, and this information is relevant and specific for your discipline):

A typical CV includes:

  • Your Information (e-mail, address, mobile, website, etc.)
  • Education (undergraduate and graduate school)
  • Dissertation information & faculty advisor (title, expected graduation, if ABD)
  • Areas of research (or teaching) interest
  • Publications – peer-reviewed and relevant non academic publications
  • Grants, honors & awards
  • Teaching scholarship – link to teaching portfolio if applicable
  • Related work experience & positions (academic & non-academic; paid & unpaid)
  • Names of references (phone and email)

Format, style, and visual presentation of the CV is really up to you; however I recommend reviewing vitae examples, and getting other faculty or scholars in your discipline to review it. A few helpful tips on the curriculum vitae from Barnes (2007) includes:

  1. List your publications on the first page – show how you are already contributing to the literature in your discipline.
  2. Separate academic from nonacademic publications – distinguish between peer-reviewed articles, book reviews, & nonacademic publications.
  3. Separate publications from presentations – differentiate writing from teaching.
  4. Provide lists in chronological order – most recent first and move backward in time for easy reading & review.
  5. Include works in progress – identify if it is in review, accepted, and dates.
  6. Avoid filler – be confident and concise in your details.
  7. Include honors and grants immediately following publications – introduce most recent achievements & that you are able to acquire funding sources.
  8. Include related and nontraditional employment – consider the position and what experiences are relevant for your applications, perhaps you should industry, university administrative role(s) on your CV.
  9. Include postdoctoral experiences in the “education” section of the vita.
  10. Include service-related experiences – leadership role in a department, committee work or organized a conference helps to make you look like a more rounded candidate.

Format and style for your CV is a personal choice. You may wish to organize your CV differently for research-focused vs. teaching institutions vs. nonacademic roles vs. positions. There are a number vitae examples to review herehere, here, and here. I would also recommend looking at faculty profile pages for vita examples at the departments/institution you are applying to, and be sure to review CVs from scholars whose work you follow in your field. More often than not, CVs examples are posted online (pros & cons of this) and shared – as it also shares academic scholarship and experiences.

Ask your faculty advisor, current faculty, and respected researchers for advice. Many would be happy to support your academic search, and gladly review your CV — plus a few may want to have a copy of this document if they will serve as your reference. Get support with editing and fine tuning your vitae. Another set of eyes, and feedback from an outside perspective will help you improve your CV.  Good luck with your applications — I’m off to edit and update my own.

Reference:

Barnes, S. L. (2007). On the market: Strategies for a successful academic job search. Lynne Rienner Publishers.

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