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CV - necessary?


JerryLandis
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I know that including a resume or CV within an application is optional, but is it against my best interests not to include one? I have quite a few things listed under my undergraduate experience (class rep, thesis, research grant, publication, awards), but since supposedly I'm not supposed to put non-academic work experience on, I can barely fill up half the page and it looks really pathetic! Should I just not submit the CV/resume, or are there ways to make it more impressive that I just haven't figured out yet?

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All of my applications require one. I would say that if it is optional and you have something that you would really like to share with the application committee that is not found in any other part of your application and it would help you look better, then send one in...I don't think it would hurt you.

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I bet you've got more experience than you think. Maybe you need to set it up differently?

My CV is broken down into the following sections:

Education

Research

Presentations

Curriculum and Instruction

Relevant Coursework

Languages

Memberships

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I know that including a resume or CV within an application is optional, but is it against my best interests not to include one? I have quite a few things listed under my undergraduate experience (class rep, thesis, research grant, publication, awards), but since supposedly I'm not supposed to put non-academic work experience on, I can barely fill up half the page and it looks really pathetic! Should I just not submit the CV/resume, or are there ways to make it more impressive that I just haven't figured out yet?

YES! Start by listing your education, then include things like your thesis (perhaps with a 3-4 sentence summary if you have the space), publication(s), the research grant, and awards. I had even less than that and managed to make it fill 3/4 of a page. Hell, that's more than I had when I applied to PhD programs while doing my MA.

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My work experience isn't relevant to my intended field of study, but I'm putting it on my CV anyway. I'm sure they want to know what I've been up to for the past 4 years and regardless of what field your work experience is in, you learn valuable skills that will be useful in grad school (i.e., time management, leadership, teamwork, etc.).

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Thanks to everyone for your help. My resume is already looking much better - I have decided to include my non-academic work experience (maybe they'll understand that working makes it difficult to independently become fluent in 3 languages!), and have added a section for languages. Just another question, what do you mean by "Relevant Coursework?" What would you include in that section, essay titles, the name of your courses, or something else?

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Oops, I've also just noticed that you mentioned "Curriculum and Instruction" as one of your sections. I'm guessing that here you would list the titles of your courses and who taught them? Is that really necessary, since they will receive a copy of my transcript with my course title on them?

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In case it helps, my headings are:

Research Interests

Education

Relevant Coursework

Academic Prizes and Honours

Teaching Experience

Archaeological Excavations

Conference Presentations

Invited Lectures

Related Work Experience

Languages

Affiliations

I'm only an undergraduate and I still managed to fill up six pages, so I'm sure you can find ways of getting it up to more than half a page once you consider these and other headings.

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Just another question, what do you mean by "Relevant Coursework?" What would you include in that section, essay titles, the name of your courses, or something else?

I recommend picking up a book on CV writing with some example CV's in it, since it's sort of hard to explain until you see it. As far as essay titles, under your Education you should include the name of your Honours thesis (if there was one) as well as your advisor's name.

Under Relevant Coursework, however, what you want to do is illustrate how you have the academic background required to support your specific research interests, as well as illustrate that you have studied the important key areas in your field. What you should do is:

1. Make a list somewhere of the courses relevant to your research interests and your field of study. Don't be shy about going outside your chosen discipline for these courses. If you've studied a relevant language for instance or if your specialty is Women in Islam and you've done some courses in Gender Theory, definitely include that on the list.

2. Once you have your list, categorise them according to topic or theme. So, for instance, I could have categories like Comparative Religion, History of Religion, Ancient Languages, Ancient History and Archaeology, Theoretical Approaches, etc.

3. Go to your CV, and under Relevant Coursework, put the Categories in, and list the titles of the courses you've taken in each. This will help illustrate to your reader where your strengths lie in a way that's more sensible (and, frankly, more easily controlled) than your transcript.

Optional 4. Some books on writing CV's recommend that you include your grades from these classes and the course description. I think these just clutter up the page. Also, if you have a class that's very vaguely titled, it may be worthwhile to call it something descriptive for the purposes of the CV.

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Thanks again for the replies. I'm not sure whether I'll include my coursework, as my transcript is actually very clear. In my honours years I am only supposed to take 6 classes, and I think the titles of my modules are fairly straightforward. Do you think it will be weird if I don't add a section about the classes I have taken, or is that more of an optional thing to include? I don't want my CV to be completely redundant, mostly just want to use it to mention my awards, language, and work experience.

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Thanks again for the replies. I'm not sure whether I'll include my coursework, as my transcript is actually very clear. In my honours years I am only supposed to take 6 classes, and I think the titles of my modules are fairly straightforward. Do you think it will be weird if I don't add a section about the classes I have taken, or is that more of an optional thing to include? I don't want my CV to be completely redundant, mostly just want to use it to mention my awards, language, and work experience.

Relevant Coursework is definitely optional on a CV.

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i wouldn't put relevant coursework on my cv. transcripts should be more than sufficient. if they want to know they'd ask you to list your relevant course work in your electronic application (Harvard does). here are my headings, hope it gives you some ideas about what to put into your CV. i'm sure you have more than half page :D

Research interest

Education

Scholarship & Awards

Teaching Experience

Fieldwork (a.k.a. research experience)

Presentation

Additional Training

Work experience (fortunately it's still briefly related to my research)

Collaborations and Volunteer Work

Language

Reference

anyone has any comment on my headings and the order of them? many thanks!

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Thanks again for the replies. I'm not sure whether I'll include my coursework, as my transcript is actually very clear. In my honours years I am only supposed to take 6 classes, and I think the titles of my modules are fairly straightforward. Do you think it will be weird if I don't add a section about the classes I have taken, or is that more of an optional thing to include? I don't want my CV to be completely redundant, mostly just want to use it to mention my awards, language, and work experience.

I left the courses taken out of mine, but then again I am 10 years removed from my last class!

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i wouldn't put relevant coursework on my cv. transcripts should be more than sufficient. if they want to know they'd ask you to list your relevant course work in your electronic application (Harvard does). here are my headings, hope it gives you some ideas about what to put into your CV. i'm sure you have more than half page :D

Actually, the descriptiveness of course titles varies from one university to the next. In my MA program, all the courses are "Seminar in X Subfield", "Seminar in Y Subfield", etc. so they don't say much about the course content. For example, the seminars on social justice, critical race theory, and political ecology all use the same course number and basic name. In such a case, sending a list of relevant coursework is useful since the label "Seminar in X" is wholly undescriptive of what was actually studied in the course. That said, course titles on the transcript from my undergrad are all very descriptive of the course content. Even so, I still pulled out the most significant of those and listed them under relevant coursework (I'm in an interdisciplinary field and I wanted to make it clear to them that I've taken courses in related areas, which gave me insight into the literatures and methodologies used in my own subfield).

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I just want to say that your information has all been very helpful, and my CV is quickly expanding.

One more question though, for now: Is it okay for me to put the names of my professors who taught each class down in my Relevant Coursework section? I know I can put down whatever information I want to, but is this something that is often done, or is it weird?

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Actually, the descriptiveness of course titles varies from one university to the next. In my MA program, all the courses are "Seminar in X Subfield", "Seminar in Y Subfield", etc. so they don't say much about the course content. For example, the seminars on social justice, critical race theory, and political ecology all use the same course number and basic name. In such a case, sending a list of relevant coursework is useful since the label "Seminar in X" is wholly undescriptive of what was actually studied in the course. That said, course titles on the transcript from my undergrad are all very descriptive of the course content. Even so, I still pulled out the most significant of those and listed them under relevant coursework (I'm in an interdisciplinary field and I wanted to make it clear to them that I've taken courses in related areas, which gave me insight into the literatures and methodologies used in my own subfield).

I agree. Also, I don't know where this fear of redundancy comes from. I mean, in your SOP, where there's limited space to discuss things you don't want to waste time discussing something that's detailed elsewhere in your application. But does it really matter if your relevant coursework (not all of your coursework, just courses which have helped prepare you for your research interest) are neatly listed on your CV? I highly doubt that that's the sort of information you wouldn't want the committee to be seeing twice, since level of preparation and breadth of knowledge of the discipline is certainly going to be among their concerns.

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