A major difference in the applications for jobs in academia and those outside of it is the document that you use to describe your experiences, training, and skills. When applying for academic jobs you use a curriculum vitae or CV to tell the story of your professional life. When I was putting together the first draft of my CV in grad school I asked several of my mentors if they would be willing to share their CV with me so that I could see what one looked like. This is a really great way to see examples of professional CVs of scientists and it will also help you to craft an effective document for your own job search. Academic CVs contain many sections and the number and type of sections can vary depending on your scientific discipline. The order in which you present these sections will also vary depending on the type of position that you are applying to.
Some general tips about CVs:
1) Start putting this document together in graduate school. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to put together.
2) Get as many examples of CVs in your field as you can. This will give you an idea of what is typical in your scientific discipline. It will also give you a sense of what works in terms of content and format and what does not.
3) Create a master copy CV. A master copy CV is where you put absolutely every relevant piece of information with regards to your professional life. When you apply to a particular job you will create a tailored CV that contains a subset of information in the master CV that is relevant to the position.
4) Keep the master copy CV updated regularly. I have a standing appointment in my calendar once a month in order to input new information into my master CV so that it remains current. When a job or opportunity presents itself, you don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute to update this document.
In the next post I’ll talk about some typical sections that you’ll find in a CV in the biological sciences.