In my post on putting together one's actual CV in last year's Job-Market Boot Camp series, I discussed the overall organization and content of a well-designed CV. One thing that I did not say very much about, however--and which I have heard many people raise questions about--is whether it is a good idea to have different versions of one's CV for different types of institutions. For instance, as 'Tom' asks in the comments section of my first post in the present series:
Here's a question I (and probably many others) have had about Ye olde cv: people sometimes talk about *presenting themselves as* a researcher or as a teacher, and talk about it as if it's something one does starting with one's cv. This confuses me. My cv lists all my teaching experience and all my research experience. Is presenting myself as a researcher a matter of the order teaching/research occur on the cv? Is there something else I do on my cv that committee members read as me presenting myself this way or that way?
In last year's post, I wrote very briefly about this:
General organization of the CV: I've heard from some people that after listing your AOS/AOC, education, you may want to organize your CV according to the job-type you're applying for--for instance, research first then teaching for research jobs, but the other way around for teaching jobs. I don't know anyone who has tried this, but I will say this: I always put my research first, have been a productive researcher, and it did not seem to harm my chances at all with teaching schools (the vast majority of my interviews over the past few years were at teaching schools, including a few community colleges).
Interestingly, no one commented on or raised questions about these remarks--which leaves the question relatively open: is it a good idea to "frame" one's CV differently for different jobs? I'm really curious to hear readers' experiences here.
- For candidates who have recently been on the job market, did you frame/not frame your CV differently for different types of jobs? Did it appear to affect your performance on the market?
- For search committee members, would a candidate "framing" their CV in a particular way for your institution affect your evaluation of the candidate [positively?, negatively?, not at all?]?
Given that I have now been on both sides of the market, allow me to share some general thoughts.
First, as I mentioned in last year's post, I did not frame my CV differently for different types of jobs. After listing my AOS/AOC, employment history, and educational history, I always listed my research [publications, conference presentations, etc.] first, then my professional service, and finally, my teaching experience last [just before my reference list]. Although I listed my teaching experience last, this did not appear to negatively affect my competitiveness for jobs at teaching-focused institutions. Over the years, particularly my last couple of years on the market, I received a steadily increasing number of interviews [and fly-outs] at teaching-oriented institutions--both liberal arts colleges and community colleges. This evidence is of course perfectly consistent with the possibility that I might have received even more interviews at teaching oriented schools had I "framed" myself as a teacher--and so I am again interested in hearing others' experiences. In any case, my experience was that I did quite fine not tailoring the CV to different schools.
Now let me put on my other hat, as it were, adopting the perspective not of a job-candidate but as someone who works at a teaching focused liberal arts college. Coming from this perspective, it seems to me that there are both potential risks and potential benefits of framing one's CV differently--and it is not at all clear to me which are greater. Having worked at a liberal arts university, I can say from experience that different members of a faculty can have different values and priorities. On the one hand, some faculty at a liberal arts university [in my experience, a good number!] are super-serious about research, as well as teaching. On the other hand, other faculty can care much more about teaching than they do about research. That these differences in priority can exist is not at all surprising, in my view, given the self-described missions of many such schools, which typically include commitments to quality in both research and teaching. But now if this is true, then there are potential risks and benefits to both alternatives at hand [i.e. framing one's CV differently for different institutions, or not]. On the one hand, if one frames one's CV as suggesting one "primarily cares about teaching" [i.e. putting one's teaching history before one's publications], one might "play to" search committee members who care about teaching, but at the risk of turning away members who care significantly about research. On the other hand, if one frames one's CV emphasizing research, one may "play to" search committee members who care about research, but at the risk of turning away members who care significantly about research. Indeed, although there is the potential benefit that framing of one's CV in a particular way might come across to search committee members as "understanding the mission and values of their institution" [viz. the university's teaching-focused mission], there is also plausibly the potential risk that framing one's CV in a particular way could come across as presumptuous--as thought the candidate "thinks they know what we care about." Finally, and on the same note, one could well imagine some people being very turned off by such presumptions. Suppose one works at a liberal arts university or community college and one cares very much about research. Then suppose that a candidate's CV looks like they think your university is "all about teaching." Mightn't this come off as playing into popular prejudices [which I have heard some people in our profession explicitly or implicitly suggest] that people who work at teaching institutions "aren't serious researchers"? [Note: I don't mean to imply that this is how I, or anyone I personally know, would respond to "tailored CVs". I merely mean to draw attention to the fact that there are some general reasons to think that someone could plausibly react negatively to a tailored CV].
So, then, it seems to me that there are potential risks and benefits in both directions: potential risks and benefits in "tailoring" one's CV to different institutions, and potential risks and benefits in not doing so. Given that, or so it seems to me, it is difficult if not impossible to determine in any particular case where the balance of risks and benefits lie, it seems to me that the most rational thing to do is not overthink these matters--that is, to simply present one's CV in "the standard order" [education, work experience, publications, conference presentations, service, teaching experiences, and references] and leave it to search committee members to individually and collectively decide what they care about.
But these are just my experiences and thoughts. What are yours?