Most applications will require a Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV), despite the fact that you will submit essays that provide a great detail about your work life and activities. Both the resume and the CV are short-hand ways of communicating about yourself, but each takes a slightly different form and highlights a different set of accomplishments. The resume is oriented towards employment and extracurricular activities and the CV is focused on research, publications and teaching. Both documents demonstrate that you know how to present yourself professionally. A description of each form follows with some examples and commentary below.
The resume is typically one or two pages and usually presents your work experience in chronological order. You generally use a resume to search for a new job or position and often you present a summary or objective at the top of the document to ensure the reader understands your career trajectory and profession. Generally, a resume will change as you update your work experience to highlight particular skills and jobs that set you up for your next move. In fact, you may already have a resume that you use for finding employment. But if you are asked to submit a resume with a graduate school application, you should forefront the areas of your resume that are connected to the program(s) to which you are applying.
For example, perhaps you have been working for the last couple of years at Costco to pay the bills, but also have been working at two non-paid internships where you are getting experience with mental health counseling as a prerequisite to apply for a Master in Clinical Psychology. To ensure that the reader understands where you are headed in your future career, you would want to put the internship under a category called work experience and put the Costco work under a more general category called employment.
The CV is a much longer document that is mostly used when you are seeking an academic, scientific or medical position. It is a detailed overview of your accomplishments and you will add to it frequently because the categories included are numerous: contact information, education, teaching experience, research experience, honors and awards, publications, presentations, professional memberships, service and references. You may have a short 2-3 page curriculum vitae if you are an undergraduate or just out of school and applying to a graduate school program, but a professor or experienced researcher with twenty years experience may have a CV that is 20-30 pages long.
If you are applying to a program and don’t have a lot of work experience or research experience, you can also make a hybrid document, but make sure that your future direction is clear to the reader. Below are some examples of hybrid documents, CVs and resumes with some commentary to help you see how each writer structured the document to indicate their future career trajectory.
Resume-CV hybrid: Martinez put her research experience up front because she was applying to a PhD program in Clinical Psychology, however other work experience in administration and community engagement was are relevant to her career goals so she also provided a detailed description of that work.
CV: Pauloo submitted his CV as part of an application to a PhD program in hydrology. Already out of school for several years, Pauloo documented his research projects and related work experience and did not include any undergraduate activities or honors.
Resume: Ramjerdi used this resume as part of her application for a Master in Public Health. She forefronted her pro bono work with advocacy organizations as her “work experience” and placed her paid work under employment. You may need to make a similar adjustment with your resume if you have career-oriented volunteer work and employment that provides a paycheck. Often you will want to gain pre-professional experience in a field or organization where the remuneration is small or non-existent but you can learn a great deal. To pay the bills, you may take on another job. When you are ready to apply to graduate school in your chosen profession, you will forefront the work that pertains to your future career and can categorize what you do to support yourself under “employment.”
Resume: Tan created a resume that highlighted the 1000 clinical hours required for an application for a Master in Physician Assistant Studies. She also indicated her capability as a student by including her Dean’s list citations and completed the picture of herself by including volunteer activities.
Remember that you do not have to put everything on your CV or resume. Instead you can choose what information best tells the story that represents your future goals. You can change the name of headings, provide a summary that helps the reader understand your experiences, and leave out insignificant jobs you took on just to pay the bills.
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