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Ideas for Archiving CVs (and Why You’d Want To)

Paper edges

If you’re in academia, you need a curriculum vitae (CV) or its relative, a resume. Period. Even if you’ve attained your dream job and don’t forsee changing things up in the near future, a CV serves as a record of what you’ve done and represents you to others. I marvel at the different times for which I’ve been asked to send along a CV at a moment’ s notice. Applying for an internal grant? An external one? A student asking about how they should write a CV for a grad school application? Reaching out to potential collaborators? All these situations, and many more, call for a CV.

But just like who we are as people changes frequently, so does who we are on paper.  Your CV is going through updates over time. Quite by accident, I’ve realized the value of the personal habit I began in college of keeping digital versions of my CVs, whether they be incremental updates, overhauls, or customized versions for specific needs. When I was an undergrad, I began saving digital versions of all my CVs – any CV that I sent out for any reason. I continued this practice while in grad school, for different grant applications, and while on the job market. I’ve continued to keep different files for the incremental updates. The benefits have been many, and include the following:

  • When a student asks for what their CV should look like when applying to grad school, I can email to them one from when I was writing my applications. That way they get more contextual advice than just sending them the one I have now. (It’s also less intimidating.)
  • When it comes time to write up an annual report of any kind, I can look at my CV from that period last year and compare it to the current one and see what’s been added.
  • When I need to add selected items to my CV, ones that aren’t normally there, I can peruse my archive and collect material (e.g., if I were applying for something music-related, I could pull up my choral CV that lists the works in which I’ve sung. That material doesn’t go on my regular CV, but it could have context for something. For example, my role in Warren Martin’s The True Story of Cinderella earned me some street cred from some folks at THATCamp LAC this summer!)

So if you’re convinced to keep all the different versions of your CV that you create, how do you organize them? That’s really up to you, but I recently switched over to a system in which I entitle the file according to the system of “YEARMOCVPURPOSE.doc.” For example, a CV I created in November of this year, for no particular purpose other than to update it, was saved as “201111CV.doc.” A CV I used in February 2005 in support of an AAPM abstract was renamed as “200502CVAAPM.doc.” This allows me to sort the file names visually in order of year, then month, then purpose if necessary.

How about you? How do you keep track of the history of your work? Let us know in the comments.

[Image Creative Commons licensed / Flickr user crabchick]

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