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Home » Clarion » 2022 » July 2022 » Tips for your academic CV

Tips for your academic CV

By Stuart Davis

The PSC Committee for Adjuncts and Part-Timers held a professional development workshop in early May to provide advice for developing application materials for the hundreds of new full-time lecturer positions at CUNY, being created through increased state funding. Nearly 400 people attended the virtual workshop. The event covered how to develop various elements of a job application, including the drafting of cover letters, teaching philosophy statements, diversity statements and curricula vitae (CVs).

At the event, I shared tips on best practices for CV design and content. I’ve served on hiring committees for lecturer and tenure-track assistant professor positions at CUNY and at other colleges. Over the years, I’ve learned that a clear and well-outlined CV might not be the single deciding factor for getting hired, but it can often help a candidate move from the initial screening to the first-round interview stage. Conversely, a CV that is missing essential information or structured in a disorganized way can result in the hasty removal from the stack of applications considered for the job.

In general, an academic CV contains educational history, academic employment history, courses taught and teaching interests, research experience, academic service, non-academic employment history, professional memberships and a list of references with contact information. Without exception, the CV should be organized in reverse chronological order. Each section should begin with the most recent information. There are no universal minimum or maximum length requirements for the CV, though some job descriptions will provide limits to orient candidates. Finally, the entire CV should be in one font, with the same font size and margin dimensions throughout. I use 12-point Garamond.

EDUCATIONAL HISTORY

Begin with educational history because most academic job descriptions, include “minimum” or “recommended” qualifications that are often linked to achieving a terminal degree in one’s field. For some positions, professional experience might compensate for not holding the terminal degree. A master’s degree is usually the minimum qualification for lecturer positions. For tenure-track jobs, a PhD or an equivalent terminal degree (e.g., MFA for fine arts) is usually the minimum qualification.

ACADEMIC EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Educational history should be followed by an academic employment history, listing college-level institutions where you have taught. This section can include full-time and part-time teaching positions. If the job description specifically states that the new position prioritizes professional experience, non-academic employment history can be included and listed directly after academic employment history.

TEACHING EXPERIENCE AND INTERESTS

Academic search committees often scan CVs for a list of classes a candidate has taught or has interest in teaching, and they are often looking to fill instructional gaps. Including a brief list of “teaching interests” (especially for those lacking significant prior teaching experience) can show a search committee the courses one is qualified to teach and interested in teaching. For example, with my PhD in communication, I include that I’m interested in international communication, advocacy communication and communication theory.

RELEVANT RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

This section gives search committees an idea of one’s record of published research, relevant grants as well as future research trajectory. List publications, research grants, presentations from academic conferences and research in-progress.

The publication list should be limited to peer-reviewed academic articles and book chapters or single-authored or edited books from academic publishers.

For grants, include both grants one has applied for and been awarded and grants one has applied for and been rejected, which shows an active research trajectory despite the denial.

Conference presentations should be limited to those where one has presented, prioritizing major academic conferences within one’s discipline and only listing presentations within the past five years.

NON-ACADEMIC EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Jobs outside of the academy should be minimized when applying for an academic position, except when one’s professional experience has direct bearing on the open position.

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS AND LIST OF REFERENCES

Include any professional academic organizations you are active with. List three to five references, including title, place of employment, nature of relationship and/or years known and contact information, both a phone number and an email address. Preferably, these references should be from the academy, including mentors from graduate school, department chairs and teaching supervisors. If you need to submit your materials and still need to contact your references, it is acceptable to write: References provided by request.

I know this guide to constructing CVs does not fix the decades of defunding of full-time positions, but I do hope these instructions are helpful for PSC members who are crafting their CVs to apply for the new full-time jobs at CUNY.

Stuart Davis is an assistant professor of communication studies at Baruch College, where he also serves as the PSC chapter chair.


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