Getting Started with Resumes and Cover Letters
When should I use a resume, and when should I use a CV?
Think about who will be reading your resume. For academic jobs, you use a CV so that people in your field will appreciate
the specifics of your research and your accomplishments within your field. If you’re applying for a nonacademic job for
which the people doing the hiring will have a background similar to your own—say, a research institute, or a research
position in industry—then your academic CV is probably fine to use. However, if you’re applying for positions for which a
PhD isn’t necessarily required, or if you can’t count on your reader having enough of a background in your discipline to
understand your research, then you’ll likely want to use a resume.
What is the difference between a CV and a resume?
A resume is typically shorter, 1-2 pages at most, and will dedicate more space to your functional work experience while
focusing less on academic awards, conference presentations, and publications. Depending on your intended reader, you will
likely go into less detail on the specifics of your research and teaching topics, but rather highlight the transferable skills you
developed through this work.
I’m planning on applying to several different types of jobs. Will I be expected to write different resumes for each one?
Here again, it is important to think about your reader. Let’s say you are receiving a PhD in mechanical engineering, and are
applying for jobs in industry, as well as for quantitative positions in investment banks and generalist positions in big
consulting firms. You might use a version of your academic CV for industry, though perhaps going into more detail on
internships you may have held, as well as any practical applications of your research. The investment banks will be more
interested in quantitative analysis skills, so you’d want to be clear how you developed those skills in the course of your
research. Consulting firms will be concerned with how you’ve developed leadership and teamwork skills; in that case, you
might include less detail about your research experience, but include more information about involvement with student
groups, volunteer work, or internships that may have allowed you to develop these skills.
A friend of mine who is in business school told me I need to have a one page resume. Is that true?
It depends. If you are a doctoral candidate applying for jobs that require a PhD degree, or if you are being recruited because
of your PhD, then having a two page resume is fine. However, if you are a master’s degree candidate, or if you will be
applying for positions that do not require a PhD, then having a two page resume may send a signal that you’re
―overqualified‖ or otherwise not fitting the mold of a typical candidate for entry to mid-level jobs in business. For BA/BS
and MBA candidates, a one page resume is the norm. When in doubt, ask one of the GSAS counselors.
Are there formatting guidelines I should keep in mind?
Stick to a common font like Times New Roman or Garamond, and avoid text boxes, underlining, or shading. Font size should
be between 10 and 12 point, and kept consistent throughout the document. Margins should be equal all the way around the
page, and should be at least three quarters of an inch in size.
Can someone at OCS review my resume?
Yes. Each semester the GSAS counselors hold weekly walk-in hours, as well as two days of special drop-in sessions
(typically in September and May) for GSAS students interested in having their CVs or resumes critiqued. Students may also
have their resumes reviewed as part of a counseling appointment with a GSAS staff member (to schedule an appointment,
visit the OCS website and follow the directions on Crimson Careers or call 617-495-2595).