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Career Center for Science and Engineering

Graduate Student Resumes and Curriculum Vitae

Resumes and curriculum vitae (CVs) are two types of documents used when applying for positions. Although the format of resumes and CVs are fairly similar, there are distinct differences in their purpose, length, and amount of detail. Resumes, the most commonly used of these two documents, are usually used for industry positions. Typically a CV is used for academia and should be used only when one is specifically requested. If you are unsure which document to provide, you may want to contact the organization directly to see which they prefer.

What is a resume?

  • Your marketing tool to prospective employers in industry
  • A concise one to two page document that highlights your most relevant experiences and skills tailored to each position to which you are applying

Tip: Create a master resume of all your experiences and accomplishments. Use this record to write a one to two page tailored resume for each position you apply for highlighting your most relevant qualifications.

What is a curriculum vitae (CV)?

  • An academic version of a resume that provides a professional archive of all your experiences related to your academic career
  • For graduate students, a CV is typically a few pages. Length should be determined by the amount and depth of your experiences. A CV should then be tailored to the position you are applying for by ordering your sections from most to least relevant
  • Use your CV as a professional archive and keep it updated with all your accomplishments

Tip: Consider consulting with a faculty member or advisor for advice and feedback on your CV because they often serve on hiring committees and have experienced an academic job search.

To get started with your resume or CV:

1) Make a list of your experiences: education, research, teaching, publications/presentations, organizations, etc.

2) Think about your contributions, what skills you used and developed, and your significant achievements

3) Begin to craft your resume or CV by organizing these experiences into sections (examples below)

There are many sections that could be a part of your document. It is important to keep in mind that your document should be specific to your experience and the position for which you are applying. You have flexibility in the choice, naming, and placement of sections. While your contact information and education are usually listed first, other sections can be in any order, based on your strengths and the requirements of the position or opportunity.

Resume and CV Sections

Below is a list of common sections you may use when creating your document.  As mentioned above, the sections you use for your document and the order you place them in will be determined by your experiences, accomplishments, and the requirements of the position. To see examples of these sections refer to the example resume and CV at the bottom of the page or in our Graduate Resume and CV Guide.

Contact Information

Include your name, present and/or permanent address, telephone number, and email address. If you are an international student, we do not recommend including your international address. Be sure your name stands out by making its font size larger

Summary of Qualifications

Included on a resume, a set of bullet points (skills statements) that concisely highlight skills and experiences on your resume that relate directly to the position.

Education

Include all institutions of higher education you have attended and are currently attending in reverse-chronological order (most recent first). Include: the degree you are seeking, university name, college name, city and state of the university, your (expected) graduation date, and GPA. Thesis and dissertation titles, minors, coursework, academic awards, and study abroad programs may also be included in this section.

Thesis/Dissertation

Provide the title and a short description of your work, its framework, and your findings, as well, as your advisor and committee members. Also include the completion date.

Experience

For each experience,paid or volunteer, you want to highlight the most important aspects of the experience that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Include your position title, organization name and location, and dates of employment. Then create bulleted skills statements to describe your experience using this formula: Action Verb + Details + Result (when applicable).

To format skills statements, begin with a bullet point, then use an action verb (see pg. 5 for list) that describes the skill used (e.g. “created,” “researched,” etc.) and summarize your duties, accomplishments, and projects. When possible describe the results of your efforts. For an extensive list of strong action verbs and transferable skills found in our Graduate Resume and CV Guide, click here and go to pages 4-5.

Example of skills statement: Demonstrates teamwork

  • Weak Skills Statement: “Manufactured diagnostic reagents”
  • Strong Skills Statement: “Collaborated in a large team setting to efficiently manufacture diagnostic reagents in a GMP environment”

Avoid using personal pronouns such as “I” and make sure verbs are in the correct tense (past tense for past experiences and present tense for current experiences). List your experiences in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Consider creating specific experience sections to highlight different types of experiences, such as “Related Experience,” “Research Experience,” “Leadership Experience,” etc. When including experiences on a resume it’s important to include more detail for experiences that directly relate to the position description, which may mean being selective about what experiences are included. On a CV experience sections that include industry may not give as much detail depending on their relation to the purpose of your CV.

Teaching/Research Experience

On a CV all teaching and research experience should be detailed and describe all aspects of your academic work. On a resume these sections may be shorter and less detailed, including only research and teaching experiences that demonstrate transferable skills related to the job. Within teaching experiences include information such as courses taught, university and department names, dates, and a description. Within research include title/type of research, faculty contributing, and a description of the purpose and findings. Postdoctoral information can also be included in these types of sections.

Skills

Your skills section should include any tangible skills, such as language, technical, and laboratory skills you have developed that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. Consider including your level of proficiency as well. When compiling this list, think about the techniques you have learned in your classes, labs, and work experiences that may be valuable in future positions. Do not include transferable or “soft” skills, such as communication skills.

Publications and Presentations

Provide a list of published works and presentations authored or co-authored (those submitted and under review), including the title, co-authors or presenters, place of publications or presentations, and dates similar to a bibliography page. When included on a resume the list of publications should be selected based on the job description. On a CV you will provide a complete list of your works.

Professional Associations

List professional associations/organizations in which you hold memberships, including dates of your involvement and a description of your contribution if you have been involved beyond general membership.­­­­­­­

Awards and Honors/Fellowships

List competitive scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships received, names of scholastic honors, and teaching or research awards you have received, specifically those most relevant to the position.

Certifications

Include certificates related to your field you have earned. List the name of the certificate and its expiration date.

Grants Received

Provide the name, dates, and amount of grants you have written and received.

References

When requested as part of an application, include the name, job title, organization name, address, phone number, and email address for 3-5 individuals. It can also be helpful to provide a brief statement describing your relationship with each reference. Before listing someone as a reference, talk to the people you have chosen to be references before you give out their contact information to potential employers. Provide your references with a copy of your resume and keep them updated as you search for jobs. If included along with a resume, references are on a separate page that is formatted to match your resume. If included as part of your CV, references may be placed at the end of the document.

Formatting your resume or CV

  • The length of your resume or CV will depend on your level of experience and qualifications.  Generally a graduate resume should be 2 full pages and a CV should be 3-5 pages long. However, based on your experiences, career field, and the position description, it could be longer or shorter. Whatever the case, only print your document on one side of the paper and include your name and the page number at the top of each page.
  • Avoid using a resume or CV template.  This decreases your ability to personalize and make changes as your document evolves.
  • Your resume or CV should be well organized, without spelling errors, and easy to read. An employer spends a short amount of time reading your document—it is imperative that the employer clearly sees the most important qualifications.
  • To organize your document, you may choose to use bold, italics, all caps, indenting, and bullets.  You will want to use these sparingly to emphasize the most important information. Avoid pictures, graphics, non-black ink, shading, and symbols instead of traditional round solid bullet points.
  • It is a good idea to start with a 1 inch margin on each side.  You can reduce the margins to 1/2 inch if need be. Font size should be between 10-12 point, and you will want to choose easy to read font styles, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Garamond. Keep font size and style consistent throughout your CV (except for your name which should be a larger size).
  • Present your resume or CV on quality bond paper (20 pound)—choose white or off white to ensure your document is easy to read.
  • If you are filling out an online application where you cannot upload your document directly, keep the format simple when filling in required information.
  • If you are requested to submit your documents via email, save your resume or CV and cover letter (if applicable) as attachments. Include a brief note in the body of the email stating your purpose.

Tips for resume and CV writing

  • Make sure that your resume or CV is a unique and personal document.  It is a great idea to look at examples of resumes or CVs but also important to make it your own.
  • There are some suggestions that we provide when writing a resume or CV, but there are also options and room for choice. If you give your document to several people, they may all give you different feedback.  Beyond some of our strongly suggested guidelines, resumes and CVs are subjective.
  • Be 100% honest and factual. Avoid abbreviations.
  • Organize your document so the most important information is at the top.
  • Do not include a work history. Rather, include your most related experiences or those where you demonstrated a high level of skill.
  • Personal information, such as, marital status, age, ethnicity, height, and weight should not be included.
  • Avoid personal pronouns (I, my, we) and complete sentences to describe your experiences.  Start your statements with action verbs.
  • Always proofread your resume or CV. Do not solely rely on spell check. Some employers may eliminate candidates based on errors.
  • It is suggested that you tailor your resume or CV to the job description. You may have more than one version of your document depending on the positions to which you are applying. You may change the order of sections to list more relevant areas of your experience closer to the top.
  • Remember that your resume or CV is YOUR marketing tool.  Many times it is an employer’s first impression of you. It is also a work in progress that you will continually revise.

Additional resources

  • Contact us about our Resume Writing or Curriculum Vitae Workshops at ccse@umn.edu.
  • Visit the CCSE Resource Center to view our Resume Examples Binder and related books
  • Have your resume or CV reviewed by a CCSE Counselor.  You can email to ccse@umn.edu. If you’d like to meet with a CCSE Counselor to discuss your application materials, you can make a 30-45 minute appointment or stop by during Walk-In Counseling (paper copy only; no laptops).

Examples

Twin Cities Campus: