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resume and cover letter writing: Curriculum vitae

Graduate students earning master's degrees go about the job search in a very similar manner to a student graduating with a bachelor's degree. The candidate must prepare a professional resume and cover letter, practice interviewing skills and do a thorough job search.

For master candidates going into areas other than teaching, health care or social work, a one or two page resume works best. Graduate candidates may want to prepare a resume with a “Profile” section instead of an “Objective” depending on their background and present career path. Depending on the amount of experience a graduate candidate has, he or she may still want to prepare a one-page resume as many recruiters in the business world prefer one page. However, two pages is quite acceptable as long as there is ample information to fill most of two pages and none of the information is redundant.

For master or PhD candidates going into teaching, health care or social work and possibly other areas such as research, a CV (curriculum vitae) should be prepared instead of a resume. A CV is a longer version of a resume that includes much more information such as teaching competencies, publications, seminars or workshops presented at, conferences attended, pro bono activities, etc.

Curriculum Vitae are Still Resumes

Despite their venerable name, curriculum vitae are simply a specific sort of resume, the style preferred by candidates for medical, academic, teaching, and research positions. Most of these candidates have an educational background directly related to the positions they seek, so education is always featured first. Even after 20 years of research, your degrees and the schools where you earned them will overshadow your experience.

The main differences between general resumes and CV’s are:

CV’s almost never list an objective, and seldom have a long narrative profile. They are sometimes diagrammatic, giving exceptionally brief listings for each experience. Your credentials and preparation will have to speak for themselves. If you want to make a more elaborate argument for your candidacy, you must do it in your cover letter.

CV’s should look rather plain.  When they are nondiagrammatic, CV’s can contain blocky job descriptions of some great length—but the emphasis is always on content, not form.  Also, name dropping is more common in CV’s than in resumes.  If you performed research under a certain professor, you would probably list only his or her title in a business resume, but a CV would most likely include his or her name. Science and academe are small worlds, and it is likely that a prospective employer will have heard of a given specialist in his or her own field. Similarly, if you went on clinical rotations at a given hospital, name it: your future employer might have hospital privileges there.

Unlike resumes, CV’s can run on for pages and pages. They should, however, be very neatly organized, with clear headings and distinct conceptual division, so that they can be skimmed as easily as a two-page resume.

In addition to the usual catalog of degrees and job histories, CV’s often contain many more categories of information. Experience may be divided between headings for TEACHING and RESEARCH; education may be divided between DEGREES and CONTINUING EDUCATION or ADVANCED TRAINING; publications may be divided into subcategories of BOOKS, ARTICLES, CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS, ABSTRACTS, BOOK REVIEWS, and UNPUBLISHED PAPERS. How you organize this material determines its impact on your reader.

Scour Your Background for Evidence to Present

As with technical resumes, employers get clues about your intelligence and focus from the way you organize and present your CV data. Your presentation will be judged largely on the number and nature of listings. Material that you may think of as irrelevant may end up clinching your presentation.

When you have published dozens of books and journal articles you can afford to skip the obvious; when you are fresh out of school it is better to let the search committee know exactly what you have done and, by inference, what you can do. For example, citing your doctorate in nonverbal communication establishes your basic credentials, but listing lectures like the following is a much more effective way to give the search committee a feeling for who you are as a person and an intellectual:

Outside Lectures & Courses

Portland Bar Association

  1. “The Total Argument”
  2. "Choosing Jurors: Consider the Nonverbal Evidence”
  3. “Nonverbal Communication in the Courtroom: Whose Side Are You on, anyway?”
  4. “The Defense Attorney and Nonverbal Communication”
  5. “Prepping Your Client for Courtroom Appearances: You Never Get a Second Chance…”
University of California, Long Beach
Department of Industrial Design
  1. "Proxemics”
  2. “Use of Space to Communicate”

University of California, Berkeley
School of Architecture

  1. “Space and Power in Corporate America”

As with any other resume, review your total universe of material before deciding what to include, what to feature, and what to omit. Review all potential data in the following categories:

  1. Activities
  2. Addenda
  3. Additional    
  4. Appointments
  5. Assistantships
  6. Bibliography
  7. Class projects   
  8. Clinics
  9. Committees
  10. Computer skills
  11. Conferences
  12. Consulting
  13. Continuing Ed.
  14. Credentials            
  1. Degrees
  2. Dissertations
  3. Employment
  4. Exhibitions     
  5. Expertise         
  6. Fellowships    
  7. Grants
  8. Honors
  9. Interests  
  10. Keywords
  11. Laboratory skills    
  12. Languages    
  13. Lectures
  14. Licenses      
  1. Papers                  
  2. Performance awards    
  3. Practica
  4. Presentations
  5. Pro bono        
  6. Profession    
  7. Publications
  8. Research      
  9. Scholarships
  10. Seminars    
  11. Service
  12. Social affiliations   
  13. Specialization

 

  1. Sports
  2. Studies
  3. Study abroad
  4. Symposia    
  5. Teaching       
  6. Technical skills
  7. Theses         
  8. Training             
  9. Translations  
  10. Travel
  11. Volunteer Experience
  12. Workshops  

After compiling this raw data, present your background in the most compelling order and format for your targeted reader.

One last note: Bibliographies longer than two pages, or any other category with more than two pages of information, should be separated out from the main body of the CV. Of course, different disciplines have different protocols for bibliographic data and you will need to learn and follow those for your profession. Bibliographies used to be assembled in chronological order, so that the author could add new data to the bottom with a typewriter, but with the advent of computers, bibliographies should run in reverse chronological order like everything else (as a general rule).