Curriculum Vitae 2

Creating Your Curriculum Vitae:
the basic ingredients.

The basic ingredients of your curriculum vitae are remarkably simple.

1. Identity: People who read your curriculum vitae need to know who you are, what your qualifications are, and how to contact you. The initial portion of your curriculum vitae should set this out in some detail. If you have a web-page, and if you are proud of it, make sure that it is clearly visible on your cv.

2. Areas of Specialization: These are not always clear, even from your thesis title. Make sure that people know what you can do in addition to the obvious. Qualifications should be qualified by what you can do inside and, more importantly, outside the areas of your specialization.

3. Awards and Grants: As the university world becomes more corporate in nature, so the ability of the individual to find a source (or sources) of funding becomes more important. Scholarships, fellowships, travel money, prize money, bursaries: put them all down. And don't be afraid to add up the total in your national currency so that people are aware of just how much you have brought in over the years. Totals are surprisingly high when nothing, not even that subsidized taxi ride to the airport, is forgottten.

The First 40%

4. Publications and Division of Labour: Research may be the only thing that matters at your university. If this is so, then a higher percentage of your time must go into research than into any other aspect of your academic career. This is particularly true at the start of a career and when an academic wishes to remain upwardly mobile. Publish or perish is still with us. That said, the usual division of labour is 40% research, 40% teaching, and 20% service. This is only a rule of thumb. Read your collective agreement with great care. Time was when publications would have been the first and only item on the curriculum vitae. Now, however, it is becoming more important to say who published and whether the publication was peer reviewed. Sometimes it is necessary to describe the journal so that the suspicious -- and there are many of them out there -- will know that you know what you are talking about. Publications are usually listed in reverse chronological order, with the latest at the head of the list. Books come first in importance and should be listed separately. Then come chapters in books, then papers, then reviews. Was your work peer reviewed? Say so. Did you keep the reviews? No? Do so next time. Make sure that you can back up every claim with evidence. The world is changing!

5. Publicly Available Scholarly Work: This includes papers read at conferences, invited lectures, classes given at the request of colleagues, community lectures and talks, high school visits, anything that you consider to have been important for your advancement as a career academic. It is surprising how often we speak publicly, as academics, yet lose the memory and record of having done so. These invited moments are precious. Keep track of them.

6. Creative Work and Work of Artistic Merit: Does your contract include creative work as counting towards research? If so, make the most of those creative holidays and workshops: you never know when they may come in handy, especially at the time of career change. If you have attended multi-media workshops, designed a web-page, acted in a play, acted in a film or made a video, keep a record of it all. Perhaps your class is thinking of doing an in-class video: well, that film course on the week-end was useful after all! However, the key thing here is to be aware of what your contract permits and what it does not permit. The higher the research university, the more specialized the professor, the more formal publications count. The more liberal and general the university, then the more space there is for those exciting, more informal experiments that add value to life and make it well worth living!

The Second 40%

7. Teaching: Again, careful attention must be paid to the university contract or collective agreement. Time was when teaching didn't matter as long as the grants came in, the publications went out. Now, parents, administrators, and students -- particularly in Canada -- have become more conscious of what faculty actually do in the teaching environment. The result is that teaching portfolios are being demanded by more and more universities. I will write about them under a different heading. Meanwhile, on the curriculum vitae a careful record must be kept of courses taught. Equally important are those areas into which the individual's teaching might unfold. From this point of view, especially early on in the teaching career, courses taken at graduate school become very important as they can be regenerated very quickly at the undergraduate, and even the graduate level, if and when new courses are needed.

8. Curriculum Development: Teaching a course is one thing. Designing a course yourself is quite something else, as is designing an integrated curriculum. From that point of view, you must distinguish between those set courses you have been given to teach and those courses you have lovingly and carefully designed. Keep records of work on curriculum, especially if you are involved with a departmental or university curriculum committee. As you grow in confidence and experience, so you stop teaching hand-me-downs and start designing your own material. Be aware of the moment when you change and keep a record of it.

9. Overload Teaching and Out of Class Sessions: Do you commit to your students beyond the classroom? If so, say so. And keep a record of it. I recommend what I call a Slush File. Into it place every nice letter you receive, every comment, however small, that shows you are doing well. Sometimes, at the end of (or even the beginning or even half way through) a particularly bad day, you can open your slush file and realize that Yes! You have made a difference. You can also use these items in your teaching portfolio, though they are less useful on your curriculum vitae!

10. Professional Development: Depending on your collective agreement, this may be more or less important. However, it is well worth while to record those efforts you have made to improve your teaching. Attendance at teaching conversations, achievement of a teaching certificate, workshops with colleagues and the learning and teaching development officer. Each university has an individual culture, especially where teaching development is concerned. Certainly in Canadian universities, great efforts are being made to assist faculty in developing their teaching. Make sure that you know what is available to you on your campus. If there is a perceived problem in your teaching, seek advice early, preferably from somebody who is unbiased and has professional experience in the field. Again, keep a record of your professional development.

11. Student Evaluations: Again, read your collective agreement carefully. The student evaluations should form a part of your teaching portfolio rather than your curriculum vitae. However, they are valuable documents and if you can say "My student evaluations have been consistently high" and prove it in the teaching portfolio, then you are obviously doing your career as an academic no harm at all.

The Final 20%

12. University Service: Some people make a career out of university service. They are lifetime administrators, sit on every comittee going, and have enormous power behind the scenes. The university, especially the small university, could not function without them. At some stage in your academic career, you may decide to become an administrator. Then, of course, you are into career change, and the rules of the game change again! However, for the 20% commitment which the rule book advises, keep a record of departmental committees (and what you did on them), university committees, senate committees, and so on. Also, keep copies of those reports you wrote: you never know when they will come in useful.

13. Professional Societies: We are professionals and we have a professional life outside the university in which we study, research, and currently work. Your role in national and inter-national bodies should be clearly stated. Even if you are nothing but a member of your national professional body, at least you joined it. Do you attend meetings regularly? Say so. Are you on the executive? Say so. When building a curriculum vitae, you plan to advance your career by committing more and more time to those things that advance you professionally. bearing in mind the 40-40-20 rule [40% research / 40% teaching / 20% service] and its concomitant trade-offs, make sure that you advance your career in a timely and balanced fashion. Professional contacts can often bring you more success than is generally realized.

14. Community Service: This may be more or less important according to the field in which you work and the culture of the university where you teach. Once again, you should check your collective agreement and see what types of community service are demanded or encouraged. That said, keep a careful list of your community service. Most academics are extremely dedicated people and their dedication to their local community is sometimes enormous.

Miscellaneous Items

15. Length and Specificity of Your Curriculum Vitae: There is no ideal length for a curriculum vitae which may be short [2 pages] or long [15-20 pages]. However, your curriculum vitae should not be so short that it tells nothing about you, nor so long that nobody is willing to read it. Your curriculum vitae has a purpose: to showcase you, as an academic and to keep a track record of your academic qualifications. The length of the curriculum vitae must be appropropriate for this showcasing and record keeping. What this means, in practical terms, is that the writer of the curriculum vitae must think in terms of the plural, not the singular. A creative academic will have 2 or 3 CVs available and will be able to tailor the curriculum vitae to the task for which it is intended. This may be a job application, a grant application, a request for tenure, an annual report, or a request for promotion. Clearly, the curriculum vitae will be of a slightly different construction giving added emphasis to different areas in each of these specific cases.

16. The Last Six Years: If you have spent a long time in academia, you will be aware of most of what is written above and little of what I have will be new to you. However, it is worth remembering that usually only the most recent work counts. Nobody wants to know that you won the Grade 6 singing competition or three-legged race now that you are fifty-five years old! As good coaches say: only the next match counts!

17. Updating Your Curriculum Vitae: Your curriculum vitae should be upated regularly. I like to update mine over the winter holiday, just as the old year turns into the new. This allows me to look back on the old year to see what I have accomplished and to look forward to the next year, to see what I need to do. By extension, I also rework my curriculum vitae at the end of the academic year, in May, so that I may extend the revision of the calendar year to cover the academic year too. There are other opportune moments to revise: after a major publication, as a result of an honour or award, following a major presentation etc etc. The most important thing is to take a pride in your work, to record your accomplishments -- however modest they are -- and to maintain a track record of where you are and where you have been in academia.

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