The Truth About CV and Resume Writing for Academic Jobs

When helping clients who are writing CVs or resumes designed for academic job searches, I’ve often seen a tendency for writers to attempt to list any and every academic achievement they have ever mastered. Wrong! No need to list that research paper on the migratory patterns of the tsetse fly that you wrote in 1999, nor list that you co-chaired the Ace Academic Assessment committee back in 2007. Leave out some of those two dozen community seminars you delivered over the last 10 years–list only those that may directly boost your credentials for the current job you are applying for. Of course, if you are aiming for a science faculty job, you would focus primarily on listing research, symposiums, and teaching experiences related to science and can probably leave out that photography course you taught as a substitute for that one semester in the fall of 2015. Just as when writing a resume for any job outside of academia, one must remember that the reader who receives it spends, on average, only seconds skimming the document. Therefore, the targeted objective for your CV or resume is to be selected for an interview, not for being hired for the job (that hopefully will come after the interview). This must remain the primary focus of the document writer or job applicant! Thus, emphasizing only your strongest and most-related experiences, making section titles stand out and leaving lots of white space for easy reading, and being concise–in other words, maintaining impact–is important! Writing your accomplishments in behavioral terms (i.e., what you actually did to bring about outcomes, not just listing items from your job description) is key, as well! Most of all, recognize that listing too many small or insignificant achievements can actually distract the reader from focusing on those accomplishments that otherwise make you a great fit for the position under consideration.

I have rarely come across an article that targets all the “musts” of writing a good CV or academic resume like this article from Higher Ed Jobs by Justin Zackal, an award-winning writer about higher education communications and marketing issues. Take a look!

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Why Less is More on a Resume/CV (from Higher Ed Jobs/J. Zackal)

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