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Résumés & Vitae

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Example résumés and vitaes are available in the Sample Documents page found under Additional Resources.

What is a Résumé?

The résumé is a marketing tool for your qualifications and abilities. You must communicate in a brief but informative way that you are someone who gets things done! A résumé is a summary, not an autobiography. There is no "best" or "right" way to do your résumé. Since your résumé typically gets 20-30 seconds of attention the first time through, make it easy for the reader to find what they are looking for. As you write the résumé, look at it from the employer's perspective. The résumé basically has two purposes: (1)It introduces your skills and experiences to potential employers. (2)It reminds the potential employers of you after your interview.

Tailor your résumé to each job for which you apply. You may need to alter the objective statement for each type of position you are interested in. Emphasize the qualifications most relevant to each position. Show results and quantify. Avoid pronouns and use short phrases rather than complete sentences. Begin these phrases with action verbs. Do not list references on your résumé, but do have a separate sheet of references available. Make sure you ask permission from people before using them as references.

Résumé Formats


Generally, there are three formats of résumés: Chronological, functional, and combination.

The chronological style is basically an accounting of the positions you've held, the employers you've worked for, and what you have accomplished in each position, listed in reverse chronological order. It is the style most commonly used by new college graduates and by individuals changing jobs within a career field.

The functional style, on the other hand, places the emphasis on what you've accomplished and de-emphasizes where you did it. This allows the candidate to organize experiences, gathered from a variety of arenas, according to specific functions or skills. Past employers are listed on the résumé, but near the bottom, indicating only the employer's name, the candidate's position title and the dates of employment. This style is most commonly used by career changers who are trying to demonstrate the transferability of their skills from one setting to another or by someone who is re-entering the work force after a period of absence.

The third style is the combination résumé. Job seekers using this style merge the elements of each of the other styles. They will include an overview or summary of qualifications at the beginning, in which they stress their skills and characteristics appropriate for the position, but they revert to the reverse chronological style for the remainder of the document. This overview section is used to "set the scene" so that the résumé is read from a particular perspective.

A vita is a written summary of your educational and professional experience that is submitted as part of the academic job application process. A vita is used by search committees as an initial screening device to see if the applicant possesses the qualifications necessary for the available position. The vita, therefore, should reflect how well you match the position for which you are applying. Most likely, you would submit separate vitae for positions in teaching, research, and administration.

A vita sometimes differs from a résumé in name only. However, a résumé is more often used in business settings and tends to be brief and skill/accomplishments oriented.

A curriculum vita is also referred to as: vitae, vita, c.v. or detailed résumé.

Adapted from The University of Michigan Career Planning and Placement Career Briefs

A vita emphasizes teaching and research experiences. It is generally two to three pages in length, although a senior faculty member might have one of more than ten pages. More is not necessarily better.

What not to include in a vita

Do not include anything in your application materials which exaggerates or is untruthful. The information provided in a vita will provide the basis for questions to be asked during an interview. If you list something on your vita that is not exactly accurate, you would stand a good chance of being asked about it during an interview, which could lead to a very uncomfortable (and nonproductive) interview. If you have to “pad” your vita to apply for a job, then you are probably not a very good fit for that job. Search committees will immediately eliminate any applicants who are dishonest in the material presented. If you are hired for a position and the department later discovers that you misrepresented yourself in any way during the search process, it may be grounds for dismissal.

Do not include personal information that does not relate to the job. Do not reveal information about marital status, national origin, citizenship, age, physical characteristics, number of children, sexual orientation, Social Security number, geographic preferences, reasons for changing jobs, date available, or salary requirements. Any employer receiving Federal money must adhere to Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action guidelines. Information about salary requirements and date available should be left for an interview situation. Never include a photo with a vita or cover letter. If you have a home page, reconsider making your photo available to such a broad number of viewers.

What should be included in a vita

Include your name, address, and phone number. These should be at the top of the first page. Some people like to list both an office address and phone number as well as a home address and phone number. If you are uncomfortable listing your home phone number, it is not necessary to include it. If you are using only your office phone number, make sure that you have voice mail for phone calls that might come during non-office hours. Many people prefer to include an e-mail address for greater accessibility.

Some vitae begin with the title “Curriculum Vita.” This is unnecessary.

State your name and page number on subsequent pages at the top in case the pages come apart. The first page is never numbered.

The name you use on your vita should be consistent with your name as it appears on transcripts and letters of recommendation. That may necessitate using parenthetical notation of a birth name [ex. Mary (Davidson) Smith] or the use of a middle name rather than a first name [ex. (Theodore) Michael Chan].

List your educational experiences in reverse chronological order with the highest degree earned or anticipated first. If you have not completed the degree, you should list a realistic anticipated graduation date. If you are unsure as to what that date might be, talk with your dissertation director.

State the degree and year received (or to be received), major and area of specialization (if applicable).

Doctoral degree holders and candidates should list under their Ph.D. the title of their dissertation and the name of their director. Master’s students may list the thesis title.

Do not list grammar school or high school.

Do not list grade point averages. You may, however, say that you graduated with distinction or cum laude, etc.

Additional coursework or private study (particularly for Fine Arts majors) can be included in the Education section or in a separate section after your formal studies have been listed.

Do not list all your graduate courses. These will be listed on your transcript. It is not necessary to list qualifying, comprehensive or preliminary examinations passed.

List academic and professional honors, awards, and grants. These entries may include fellowships, scholarships, and awards. Be specific about your honors without being wordy.

List your academic employment. In most cases this will be teaching experience. List full or part-time related experiences in reverse chronological order. Readers will be most interested in seeing what you are doing now. Provide the title of the position, the place, and the date of employment. If possible, include a brief description of duties. Do not over-emphasize routine tasks such as grading papers, constructing tests, etc. Teaching assistantships, internships, practicums, research assistantships, and field experiences may be included. Do not include summer or short term jobs unless professionally relevant.

Professional employment can be subdivided into appropriate categories if you have had a variety of professional experiences. Typical subheadings could be: Teaching, Research, Administration, Consulting.

For Fine Arts Majors, list performance or exhibit experience. Subdivide as needed to highlight your experiences. List both professional and non-professional activities which may include: dances performed and/or choreographed, plays acted in or directed, one person shows, MFA exhibits, symphonies, performances, student and faculty recitals, etc.

List publications. State completed publications, including those that are co-authored, as well as those forthcoming. Cite in full, using the form customary in your field.

These may be subcategorized if needed (articles, reviews, encyclopedia entries, etc.). Separate refereed articles from all others. Don’t pad your list of publications!

List presentations. List in reverse chronological order, with title, name of conference, location, and date. Do not include minor presentations for which a full submission process has not been required.

List research interests. Be specific, but do not make an extensive list. Be prepared to discuss in an interview any topics that you list here.

List any publications in circulation or under consideration.

List professional activities. (Related titles might be Professional Memberships or Academic Service). List activities that contribute to your professional credentials, such as professional association memberships, committee memberships/activities, etc. You could also note if you organized or moderated conference sessions.

Related experiences and skills can be included if they relate to your professional status. In this category you can list languages and the level of fluency achieved.

If you have done foreign study, you might list it in this category.

If you worked at jobs that are not related to your current professional goals but which you would like to mention, you could do so in this section. Use subheadings as needed.

Seek Feedback

Show your vita to colleagues and faculty members, including junior faculty who have recently been through the job search. Review your vita with a career counselor. Consult your professional organization for vita models specific to your field. Don’t send it out until you are comfortable with it.

Looks are important!

The appropriate length of a vita for a recent Ph.D. is two to three pages. The length of the vita normally corresponds to the amount of experience you have. Six pages, however, is a recommended maximum. Develop different versions of your vita, if needed, to keep it at a reasonable length.

Maintain adequate side and top margins as well as sufficient space between categories to allow for ease of reading.

Experiment with different formats. You want to keep your vita to a reasonable number of pages. Avoid as much dead white space as possible, but don’t crowd the information on the page.

Proofread the final draft of your vita several times to catch grammatical and typographical errors. Have at least one other person proofread it also.

Use the best printer available. Choose a conservative paper color (shades of white, gray, tan).

Helpful Sources for Writing a Vita:

  • Curriculum Vitae Handbook: How to Present and Promote Your Academic Career. Rebecca Anthony and Gerald Roe.Rudi Publishing: San Francisco, 1998.

  • The Academic Job Search Handbook. Mary Morris Heiberger and Julia Miller Vick. U of Pennsylvania P: Philadelphia, 1996.

Example résumés and vitaes are available in the Sample Documents page found under Additional Resources.