If you’re applying to an academic graduate program (MA, PhD), no doubt you’ll be asked to submit a CV or resume. While “resume” is the term most often used in common parlance, there is a huge difference between CVs and resumes, and there are important reasons for choosing the CV instead of the resume. Let’s walk through the differences between these two formats.
What’s the difference between a resume and CV?
A resume is a very concise record of your current and past work, achievements, and credentials. Most resumes never exceed two pages maximum and are very tightly geared to the specific job you are applying to. So, if you are applying for a job in IT, it would probably be a waste of a precious line on your resume to include that you were on the college swim team; it would, however, be imperative that you include your participation in the computer science club in college, as that is pertinent to your hoped-for job.
A curriculum vitae, often used in applying to graduate programs or positions within academia, should be similarly tailored to the particular program or job to which you’re applying, but you do not have a space limit; in fact, generally, the longer the CV, the better! There is one important caveat to this, however: A long CV should only have information that is broadly related to the work you want to do. You can assume that your reader will review all of it, even if certain parts – e.g., your former education credentials – might be considered more seriously than other sections.
CVs in academia
One of the reasons for the prevalence of CVs in academia is the CV’s malleability, that is, the ease with which you can add a section, reorganize sections, and, well, keep it growing. There is, however, such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” I once had a professor with a sixty-page CV, which included, among his “publications,” not only the books he’d written, but every opinion piece or “letter to the editor” he’d ever written to The New York Times! The beauty of the CV in this case is that this professor certainly had the flexibility to add as much material as he wanted; however, especially if you are beginning your graduate career, it is best to choose wisely what you include on a CV.
What should you include in your CV?
So, what practical advice is there for putting together a CV? Here are sections you should consider including:
- Educational background (prior schooling post-high school, in reverse chronological order), degrees/certificates earned
- Research experience (short description, name of professor and institution, dates of work)
- Teaching experience (if you have any – and no worries if you don’t! This section will become increasingly populated during and after graduate school.)
- Professional experience (if applicable)
- Awards and honors
- Languages (if applicable, list in descending order from those in which you are fluent>proficient>elementary/reading knowledge)
CVs (and resumes) are not the sort of things you will spend time learning to write in your usual English or literature class. Schools always “assume” their students miraculously know how to put these sorts of documents together. But here at Accepted, we have the experience to help you put together a stellar CV that is geared toward the schools and programs you’re applying to.
Whether you need someone to look over your CV and provide feedback, or if you’ve never put a CV together and don’t know where to begin, the expert advisors at Accepted are available to discuss your past experiences and other sorts of relevant information for your stellar CV. Explore our Resume/CV Services to learn more.
By Rachel Slutsky, a former Accepted admissions consultant who has as served as a writing tutor, consultant, and adjunct professor teaching writing. Rachel has assisted applicants in applying to an array of MBA and graduate programs. She earned her masters from the University of Chicago and is currently pursuing her PhD at Harvard University. Want an expert to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!