Graduate Student Career Resources
The HFA Career Center is here to help graduate students succeed and take that next step in their careers. We have resources for crafting the perfect resume, CV, or cover letter; interviewing and negotiating tips; and networking and job resources. Visit our Graduate Students Career Guide for information on resumes, cover letters, and CVs.
Fall Resume (& Cover Letter) Reviews
- In-person: Mondays, 1:00 to 3:00pm, South College W321
- In-person: Wednesdays, 1:30 to 3:30pm, South College E202
- Email: Use this Google Form (make sure you are signed into your UMass Gmail account) to submit your documents and career questions, and an advisor will give you feedback.
We can also help with career exploration, planning, or internship advising. Make an appointment.
External Resources for Grad Students
- Career Preparation & Professional Development
- From PhD to Life
- Imagine PhD
- LinkedIn Resources
- Career Exploration Tools and Resources (University of Pittsburgh)
- What can I do with my Humanities PhD? (Beyond the Professoriate)
- Academic Careers You May Not Have Considered (Inside Higher Ed)
Resume and CV Tips
In the United States, a resume is often used for non-academic jobs while a Curriculum Vitae (CV) is often used for academic and teaching positions as well as applying for graduate school. Outside the US, the terms CV and resume can be more interchangeable.
We've broken down exactly how to build a great resume.
Below, you'll find tips for building your CV.
What is a CV?
A Curriculum Vitae, or CV, is a list of accomplishments and qualifications usually used when applying for academic positions, graduate school, grants, fellowships, artist residencies, etc. A CV is similar to a resume, but there are key differences. In some places outside the United States, “CV” and “resume” can be used interchangeably. The advice on this document is mainly for United States CVs and pertains to graduate student applicants in academia.
Your goal when making a CV should be to clearly, efficiently, and with common words show your audience that you have the qualifications for the position (or grant, fellowship, etc.).
Basics of Building a CV
It takes time to prepare an effective CV. Don’t forget to update it after a new accomplishment!
- Try to arrange information according to the value it holds for your audience. You can also consider the “prestige” of accomplishments and what might be important to include on the first page. What follows is a general organization of sections and the subsections within them.
- “Teaching” and “Research” sections could be swapped depending on what the CV is used for. If you are applying to something that is more teaching-relevant, put Teaching first. If you are applying to something more research-related, put Research first. Furthermore, if you are a Performing or Studio Arts student, your CV will include a performance/exhibition experience section.
- Your name should be at the top on a line by itself.
- Include contact information under your name.
- Lead with your degree (not the university name). You can also include any graduate certificates you completed.
- The end dates (completion of degree) are important, but start dates don’t matter.
- Location information (city/state) is not needed unless you attended an international institution. Then, include the city/country for each institution.
- You can include your dissertation title. You may also include your advisor and committee, if you want (although your committee members may also be your letters of recommendation, so it’s not necessary to repeat this information).
- GPA is not needed.
- Professional Appointments
- Postdoc or fulltime faculty positions (many graduate students do not have this experience yet).
- Include: Instructor of Record positions; Teaching Assistant positions; guest lecture positions; teaching awards; mentoring experience; K-12 teaching; pedagogical trainings and workshops you’ve hosted/led and attended; teaching interests (if your teaching interests aren’t represented in the classes you’ve taught).
- Lead with the course title (not your position title or the course number).
- You can specify if you taught classes online.
- Include: publications, presentations, projects, papers, talks, honors, awards, fellowships, grants, and research experience.
- For talks, list the title, location, and date.
- For undergrad research, consider if this research is represented in your grad research. Include it if it led to a presentation/publication or if it shows a range of ability not seen elsewhere in your work.
- Include: committee work; editorial/publishing work; community outreach; professional development; certificates; training; professional affiliations; etc.
- You can include non-academic work, but don’t let it overwhelm your academic work.
- You may also include a subsection with language skills (or technical skills).
Formatting Your CV
- Don’t use a template. Start from a plain Word or Google doc. Don’t try to make your CV pretty or creative; that’s not the point of this document.
- For emphasis, use bold and capital letters. Don’t use headers/footers, columns, italics (except for book/publication titles), lines, underlines, or borders.
- Instead of bullet points, use the “tab” key to align text. Begin each entry with the date on the left, then hit the “tab” key (at least once), then start the rest of the entry.
- Projects, papers, presentations, and publications should be written bibliography-like, such as in MLA, APA, Chicago, or a similar style that works best for your accomplishments.
- Unlike a resume, a CV can be as many pages as you need (but note that an application may require a “brief” or 1-2 page CV).
General CV Tips
- Know and speak to your audience. Every time you send out a CV, it should be customized to your audience.
- Unlike resumes, CVs do not generally include explanatory text. Since your CV is for academia, your audience of academics will usually know what you mean without an explanation. Exceptions for including explanatory text include:
- If an experience is completely different from what that position implies.
- Explaining what you did as a research assistant.
- Including a dissertation or thesis abstract. Explain concisely in about 5 sentences.
- Entries under a heading should be in reverse-chronological order (most-recent, older, oldest).
- Months are not needed (except for graduation and conferences). You may sometimes wish to include the semester along with the year, but it’s not necessary.
- If a position is present/current, use “2023–" (with an en dash) or “2023—" (with an em dash); you do not need to write “Present” after the dash.
- Since a CV doesn’t require your whole work experience, you don’t need to account for every year or to worry about gaps in your history.
- UMass is a nickname—write “University of Massachusetts Amherst” every time.
- UMass has TOs (Teaching Associates), however, this term is not used outside of UMass. Use “Instructor” or “Instructor of Record” if you taught the class as a TO. You may use the term TA (Teaching Assistant) if you assisted teaching a class.
- Look at recent successful CV examples in your field. For instance, speak with newly-hired faculty if you’re applying to a faculty position or speak with fellow grad students who recently won a grant if you’re applying to that grant, etc.
Interview and Negotiating Tips
We recommend taking advantage of informational interviewing as a way to gain real world information, meet people doing work in which you are interested, and start networking in professional situations where you do not presently have contacts. This is not about immediate results, but about making future contacts. Learn more here under "Networking Tips" section.
In addition, be sure to also: