The Graduate Student Brand, Part 1: CV or Resume?

CV or Resume?

If you’re a candidate for a doctoral degree, you probably have a curriculum vitae, also known as a CV or vita, detailing the history of your academic career. Or perhaps you’re a master’s student just getting started and trying to figure out how to take your resume to the next level.

Unlike a resume, your CV gets more impressive as it becomes longer, proudly listing your achievements such as publications and presentations. This year, I’ve seen an increase in the number of graduate students using career services to apply for positions both inside and outside of the university setting. Either way, graduate students are looking to amp up their job search documents.

sb4253Got a CV, But Need a Resume?

It’s important to point out that a CV may not be the best way to present yourself to an employer who is used to scanning one- or two-page resumes in a matter of seconds, and is expecting the usual resume categories.  For situations in which a resume is the document of choice, I recommend creating a “hybrid” document that combines the format and brevity of a resume with the detail of a CV to best convey your personal brand.  In fact, I have worked with many graduate students to help them turn their CVs into a hybrid resumes.

Before I speak more about the hybrid resume, I’ll briefly define both the CV and resume, and identify when to use both of them.

The Curriculum Vitae: Comprehensive and Lengthy

Curriculum vitae translated from Latin means “the course of one’s life or career.” No wonder a CV is often multiple pages in length! Used to apply for academic, education, scientific, research and fellowship positions or grants, a CV documents the following aspects of your experience:

  • identification (name; university address, phone and email; home address and phone)
  • education (typically an advanced degree; include dissertation and advisor’s name)
  • honors (fellowships, awards)
  • Curriculum Vitaeresearch (current and previous; include advisor/mentor’s name)
  • teaching experience
  • residency, internship, fellowship
  • research interests
  • talks (invited talks, posters)
  • publications (peer-reviewed, book chapters, manuscripts, reviews and abstracts)
  • professional affiliations, licenses
  • grants
  • skills (lab skills)
  • additional information (service, volunteer work)
  • references

I recently came across the great, free online service called Cestagi. This service is an “innovative vita generator supporting various formats and export features. The focus of the Cestagi project is to provide educators and young scholars innovative tools to manage and promote their unique credentials, enabling interdisciplinary communicative and collaborative efforts.”  If you’re trying to manage your CV and want to provide it online, then check out Cestagi!

The Resume: Specific, Directed, and Brief

A resume is a marketing tool known for it’s concise, postcard-like ability to convey your brand in one or two pages, max.  The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview.  It’s counterpart- the cover letter- makes up for what the resume can’t fully do, which is to explain why you are interested in the position and what you know about the organization. 

sb6546It’s always best to cater your resume to each and every position by using the job description as your guide. Therefore, you could wind up creating several versions of your resume.  Resumes are used to apply for most jobs across all industries. A resume contains the following information:

  • Identification
  • Objective or summary (optional)
  • Education
  • Experience 
  • Activities
  • Skills
  • Interests (optional)

The chronological resume, in which your education and experiences are listed in reverse chronological order, is the most common and readily acceptable resume format.  A functional resume highlights your skills and the job functions with which you have experience, and it’s not until the end of the functional resume that you list your history of employment.  Employers do not prefer the functional format.

One last thought on resumes and CVs.  In the U.S., a CV is used to apply for jobs in academic and research settings.  Outside the U.S., a CV and resume are interchangeable. A CV is the standard document used to apply for all jobs, and it often contains personal information such as your birthdate and nationality.  It’s unnecessary to include this personal information in a CV or resume in the U.S.

The Hybrid Resume

A hybrid or combination resume is a blend of the chronologial and functional resume formatsI recommend using a hybrid resume when you have a CV that you need to transform into a resume.  I’ve worked with graduate students who are justifiably very attached to their CVs after investing time and energy into the activities listed. 

It’s hard to convince them to condense entries or eliminate items to make the overall message more succinct. And, in many cases, students choose to submit their CV anyway, believing that more is better.  I explain to to these students that while the CV is comprehensive in nature, the resume is effective because it is accomplishment and results-oriented, and I encourage them to offer their CV during the interview process.

It’s not wise to ignore the specific request for a resume in a job listing.  When a resume is required, you should do your best to transform your CV into a shorter document that is catered directly to the position at hand.  Do not expect your reader to review your entire CV and extrapolate that you are qualified for the job.  Use the job description as a checklist to ensure that you directly address the knowledge, skills and experience a potential employer is looking for in a job candidate.  Additionally, insert keywords found in the job description into your resume.

In a hybrid, for example, you have a “professional experience” section where you list your current and previous work experiences, which can include research and teaching. Within each of these experience listings, you can categorize the bulleted items (your tasks) by skill or function, as seen here.

Furthermore, taking advantage of the hybrid resume format that allows you to highlight your skills and knowledge in categories that summarize and demonstrate the unique brand you can offer to the workplace:

  • summary of qualifications
  • projects
  • selected achievements
  • strategic initiatives
  • management and supervision
  • challenge and results
  • professional experience
  • research and outcomes
  • teaching experience
  • communication
  • leadership

For more on CVs and hybrid resumes, including samples, check out the following sites:

Next week: 

The Graduate Student Brand, Part 2:  How to Write a Research Statement


Nicole Anderson is an Assistant Director/Career Counselor for Tufts University Career Services. With fourteen years of experience in college career services, Nicole’s expertise includes career counseling undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni from liberal arts, science, engineering, business, and education. 

Related posts:

  1. The Graduate Student Brand, Part 2: How to Write a Research Statement
  2. Your Graduate Brand, a Major Decision
  3. The Student Athlete Brand

5 Responses to “The Graduate Student Brand, Part 1: CV or Resume?”

  1. avatar CV Format says:

    People from different regions call it differently. In UK it is called as CV, whereas in India it is called as Resume.

  2. avatar John says:

    Yeah, found out about cestagi not long ago myself, very simple to use and very useful.

  3. NIce explaination about CV and aresume.Thanks for posting.

  4. avatar cv templates says:

    I found many useful cv sites link here. and comment given by com mentors are awesome and somewhat helpful too

  5. avatar CV Template says:

    nice post to see difference between CV & resume.
    CV Template

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