Converting a Faculty CV to an Administrative Resume

September 20, 2002

Many campus administrators begin their careers as faculty members, with CVs that are intended to be used in searches for faculty positions. When professors start thinking about becoming administrators, it's time to give the CV a conversion.

Keep in mind as we proceed, there are no hard-and-fast rules about résumés; dozens of books offer dozens of different approaches. In the end you'll need to use your best judgment about what works best for you.

The fundamental theme to remember in revising your résumé is to focus on the audience. Who will be reading this résumé, what will they need to know about you, and how can you provide information in the most useful manner?

If there are details in your CV that the administrative search committee doesn't need to know, you can probably omit them. Focusing on the "need to know" theme will also help you to address what is perhaps the most striking difference between the CV and the administrative résumé -- its length. In searches for faculty positions, a document of 10-30 pages may be normal and acceptable. But in administrative searches, a résumé of that length is not well received (and this goes for the cover letter as well). The overly long résumé is often the subject of jokes in committee meetings. A résumé any longer than five pages should be re-examined to be sure it contains only essential information, presented in an appropriately concise fashion.

I like to see résumés that begin with the basic facts: your name, title, institution, and how to contact you by mail, phone, cell phone, fax, and e-mail. I prefer to find both home and office contact information at the top of the document, but if it is essential that you not be contacted at the office, you may decide to omit those details. And while it may seem obvious, it bears repeating: Educational credentials are important at educational institutions, so I would expect to see that information close to the top of the résumé.

Next should come a description of your career path. You will certainly want to list all the faculty positions you have held, but you might do that in a more summary fashion than for a faculty search -- for example, rather than listing each rank you held as a separate entry, you can group them together as "Midwestern University: assistant professor (1990-96), associate professor (1996-present)," etc. It is essential in all résumés that the reader be able to grasp how your career has progressed year by year; be sure that the reader can do this reasonably easily.

If you are just moving into administrative positions, you will probably want to make sure the reader is aware of the administrative assignments you have already had, albeit without a major title such as dean. On a CV, you might list these items toward the back under the general title of "university service." In an administrative search, you want to highlight this experience and bring it closer to the front. You can do this by creating subheadings under the section describing positions you have held, or you might create a special section called "administrative assignments."

Within this section of the résumé, how can you best describe your administrative work when it isn't reflected in the job title? You may have revised the undergraduate curriculum for your department, served as head of the faculty senate, overseen advisement of hundreds of students. All of these are important if you are being considered as an associate dean or assistant provost. You will want to enumerate these assignments and provide some description if necessary, but I would strongly urge you to not to write a narrative paragraph about each item.

Instead, I suggest that you use bullets and keywords that highlight for the reader the nature of your work. For example, if you were part of three curriculum projects, you might have a bullet that says, "curriculum projects" and then enumerate the departmental, divisional, and collegewide projects that you participated in, including your leadership roles. If you worked on several assessment and accreditation projects, group them together under the heading "assessment and accreditation" or "institutional effectiveness" or other words that summarize the meaning of these activities. This makes it much easier for the reader to grasp the nature of your assignments without reading every detail.

How should you describe your academic activities of teaching and scholarly work?

If the courses you taught are relevant to the kinds of positions you are looking for, you should certainly list them. (For example, if you are applying for a position in institutional research, it is good to note that you have taught courses in research methods, quantitative analysis, evaluation research, and so on.) But if there is no clear relevance, you probably can omit the inventory of these courses.

On the other hand, publications and papers presented are of some importance in an academic setting, and they are very important if you are seeking to enter a position in the dean's or provost's offices. However, the level of detail that you need to provide on your publications tends to somewhat less than is on your CV. If you have a long list of publications, you might list only those published in the last five years. (The heading might read, for example, "Publications: Only recent publications are listed; information about 15 publications in previous years will be provided on request").

If you have presented many papers focusing on a limited number of topics, you might list the general topic and then examples of meetings at which you presented these papers. (The heading might read, "Presentations at national and regional professional meetings," and the entries might say, "Papers on the use of computers in teaching literature: Presented at the MLA (1999), National Conference on Computers in Teaching (2001)," etc.) A more detailed set of entries will clearly take more space, and some committees will see a string of similar titles and feel the résumé has been padded. Items that have more modest stature might be omitted altogether (e.g., book reviews).

One of the many benefits of word processing is that you can easily revise a résum&eacute, as you take on more responsibilities, or as you apply for different kinds of positions requiring different emphases. It's a good idea to keep a "master" version that has all the details in it, and then modify it as needed for particular searches. That allows you to keep all the facts straight while also keeping the basic premise in mind, providing the reader with the information that he or she needs in the most useful format.

Jean Dowdall is a vice president with Educational Management Network/Witt Kieffer, a search firm serving higher education, health care, and other nonprofit organizations. She specializes in searches for presidents, vice presidents, and deans in colleges, universities, and foundations. Her recent clients have included Georgetown University and the University of Wisconsin System. She is currently head of the American Council on Education's Executive Search Roundtable, a group of search consultants working in academe.