The CV Doctor Is Back

October 12, 2001

By now, the CV Doctor has given you plenty of advice on how to rework your curricula vitae. In 1999, we evaluated five CV's in disciplines from art to biology. Last year, we reworked the CV's of Ph.D.'s at different stages of their careers.

This year we've tried a different approach. We've evaluated three CV's and made suggestions for how to improve them. But we've also completely reworked each vita into a résumé for an administrative or a nonacademic job.

The résumé accompanying each vita is identified with an application for a particular type of non-faculty position. The basic principle in transforming a CV into a résumé is to identify the information in your background that is most relevant to a particular job and devote the most space to that, while radically condensing, or even omitting, other types of information.

For most Ph.D.'s,. the most difficult part of this process is seeing your long list of publications subsumed in a brief comment, such as "Nine publications in major professional journals." If you are applying for a job involving research in your field, the citations are critical. Once you move to another career, they are relevant mainly as a measure of productivity.

You'll notice that each of the résumés starts out with an "objective." Generally you don't include an objective on a CV for a faculty position, and sometimes not in other cases where it is obvious what type of position you want. However, if you are moving from academe to another field, a stated objective can help stress your new focus.

If someone has a vita for a faculty position and a résumé for nonacademic employment, the latter document should almost always be much shorter than the CV. One of the résumés we've designed is a single page long. The others are two pages in length because they are for fields -- higher-education administration and industrial training and development -- where a lengthier résumé is more likely to be tolerated. The "one-page rule" used to be almost absolute in business. Now that online applications have blurred the meaning of "page," there's generally a greater tolerance for length, but it's always important to be as concise as you can.

We are grateful to the three people who gave us permission to use their curricula vitae. Their names, contact information, and doctoral degree-granting institutions have been removed. We regret that we couldn't respond individually to the many, many people who submitted their CV's for this column. We do appreciate the interest and hope that what appears here will seem useful and applicable.


The Candidates:

A Ph.D. in speech communication who could pursue a career in public relations or public affairs.

A Ph.D. in ecology who is interested in academic administration.

A Ph.D. in counseling psychology who could seek a career in corporate training and development.

Mary Morris Heiberger and Julia Miller Vick are the authors of The Academic Job Search Handbook (University of Pennsylvania Press). They have provided career services for thousands of graduate and professional students since 1985. Ms. Heiberger is associate director and Ms. Vick is graduate career counselor at the Career Services office of the University of Pennsylvania.

You can order their book directly from the University of Pennsylvania Press or from either of the on-line booksellers below.  Barnes & Noble