Resume Tips for Graduate Students

Resume or CV?

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 Lab 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

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. The resume reader will spend a short amount of time reviewing your qualifications.
  • A CV includes a summary of your educational and academic backgrounds as well as teaching and research experience, publications, presentation, 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 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 or organization.
  • A background statement for an introduction in 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

Which categories suit you? You are not likely to use all of them. Other categories may arise that are unique to your background. The very best resumes/CVs are drafted with the 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 adviser 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.

Uncertain About Using 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.

Other Resume and CV Resources