Surviving and thriving and getting that professional archives position.

Welcome. If you're here, you're probably wondering how to get some job--maybe the perfect professional archives position or maybe just something you can use as a springboard--and you're seeking advice on how to do that. From searching for advertisements to writing a resume or cover letter to making it through the interview. And hopefully even beyond.

No guarantees, you probably already know a lot of this, but maybe some help from a lot of people who want to make sure that good candidates get good jobs. If you've got better advice? or need further explanation? Please share in the comments.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

BTP: Curriculum Vitae

I'm going to get into what should or shouldn't be in a resume/cv later--at length, trust me. But for the moment, we've had a comment from Pearl asking for clarification about what a CV is--she'd basically been told a CV is a resume with some personal info (DOB, gender, race) added. Pearl? I'm sorry. Somebody has led you astray.

First bit of clarification. So far as I've been told, anybody hiring in the US can't ask those questions (gender, age, ethnicity and many others including marital status and so forth). International may be different. So don't ever provide those, okay? And worry about any recruiters in the US who ask for those things. I'll get more into specifics about what to include/what not to include on a resume or CV in a professional job search in later postings.

A CV differs significantly from a resume--mostly in length, usually in relevance to the job at hand. A resume is usually created for purposes of job searching or similar, a CV is more like a personal professional history which can also be used for purposes of job searching or moving on up the ranks. And gender, race and age should be irrelevant there, too. My CV? It's 11 pages right now after about 15 years in the biz, and that's actually low compared to some I've seen. If I'd do my job descriptions right, it would be longer. My average resume that I send out for professional jobs is between 2-4 pages.

What Pearl also said was that all her professional experience is listed on her resume. Fair point. Your professional employment history will probably be included, fully, in your resume. Again, I'll get into the basics of what a resume should have in it in extravagant levels of detail later. But the most important part you need to remember at this point is relevancy. Relevant experience, education, and so forth. But you might not include your full publication record, all of your continuing ed, and so forth. And that's the fundamental difference between a Curriculum Vita and a resume. The CV is/should be significantly more extensive and may contain information that is not directly relevant to the job for which you are applying. It's your entire professional history.

Would it help to have an example? I'm not going to subject you to the 11 page version of my master CV (only I get to see that one anyhow). Here's the sections my master CV contains:
  • Education and credentials (college, grad & CA, current faculty rank & tenure)
  • Professional experience (including descriptions of jobs and dates and internships which are labeled as such)
  • Consultancy work (paid and unpaid)
  • Workshops and instruction (all of the ones I've created and taught)
  • Papers/panels/presentations (all of the ones I've done)
  • Publications list (including this blog)
  • Exhibits curated
  • Grants obtained & completed
  • Continuing education (these are the classes & training I've taken)
  • Professional affiliations and service (every SAA post I've ever held, all my professional org memberships, etc)
  • University service (every committee I've ever served on)
It might help to know that CVs are generally required for academic institutions that are hiring archivists into a faculty rank system. Obviously I'm not going to include all of this in a resume if I were to apply for, say, a non-faculty position in another academic archives or in a state government post: they certainly wouldn't care about my publication or presentation record unless it pertained directly to the job at hand. They may not even care about the full job description--just the bits that are relevant (there's that word again) to the open position. And they probably are not going to care about my university service, unless the position has a lot of committee memberships associated and then they might want to see this as proof of my ability to serve on committees. Another academic position where it may be tenure track or equivalent, where there is an obligation for a service component in the job, these types of things might go in. They also might go in if I'm trying to get hired above the most basic rank, if I'm arguing that I need to be hired as a full professor based on my record rather than as an assistant. Or so on.

This all appears on my master cv because at my job I have to turn in my CV once a year to prove I'm still doing my responsibilities, and all of this relates directly to my workload and job description. Yes, even the grants, the consultancies, the exhibits. And I'll use the full version to justify my application for promotion when I go up for full professor in a few years (haven't decided exactly when, yet.)

I hope that helps define what a CV is, or is not. And I hope this helps justify why I'm suggesting you keep a master cv. You can increase, substantially, the speed at which you can respond to a job advert when you don't have to go looking through paperwork or pondering "when was that appraisal workshop?" for every different job advert you see. Copy/paste functions are a very nice thing. I'm even pondering creating a second master cv with every job I've ever had--even the non-professional. Maybe that two years I spent working part-time in Idaho transcribing the 1900 census records will come in handy in a job app some day.

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