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Which Resume Do You Want?

Figuring out what stays and what goes in your CV, resume, and/or biographies.

By

November 14, 2018
 
 

Alyssa is a doctoral student in neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island. Follow them @yes_thattoo or check out their personal blog.

Most people play more than one role. I'm a mathematician, a neuroscience student, a disability studies scholar, and a researcher in the areas of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and brain computer interfaces. I'm also an Autistic person who uses AAC some of the time, and sometimes I write poetry.

These roles overlap, but not everything I do is relevant to all my roles. Somehow, I doubt that my having poetry in the second and third Spoon Knife anthologies (and a memoir in the first) is relevant to people deciding whether or not I'm qualified to teach number theory. They'll care that I've taught number theory before, though. Or, my being a teacher usually isn't relevant to my AAC work. Even when it is, it's not the connection most AAC professionals would expect. (As far as I know, I've never had a student who used AAC, but I use it as a teacher.)

So, how do I decide what to include in any given CV, resume, or introduction?

Depending on how much space you’re given, the answer could be everything. I have a nice LaTeXed version of my CV with everything, including my online writing for any venue outside my personal blog. It's five full pages, and they are dense. Applying for an academic position, I could use that. I could theoretically post it online, too, but I probably won’t. When there's a length limit on the CV or resume, which happens sometimes, I can't use that. When we're talking about a short bio to go with a chapter or a conference presentation, I really can't use it.

So, what gets to stay?

It depends.

If it's a teaching job, I need to keep my teaching experience. If I list every class I have taught or assisted and when I did, that's over a page on its own. If I reserve this sort of listing for classes where I was the instructor of record, I can (barely) get my education and teaching experience onto the first page. Online writing can probably go, and depending on what I'm hoping to teach, I might chop unrelated publications.

If it's a speaking gig, I need to keep my presentations, and I should probably keep all my face-to-face teaching. I might be able to chop the list of classes from my online teaching, though, and publications can be trimmed. I really only need the ones with topics related to the speaking gig. I’ll also move my presentations sections ahead of the publications sections.

If I'm trying to get a job writing online, I'll want the online writing to stay. Other publications would stick around if they fit and would get cut by topic relevance if there were space issues. My teaching experience would be cut to a bare minimum level of detail, unless I was trying to write about education. Goodbye, list of classes taught!

The field I'm currently looking at matters too. Overall, the idea is to keep the information that's most relevant to the people who'll be reading this iteration of my resume, or this version of my bio. Things can matter because the work was done in a similar environment, or because it's work on a similar topic, for a similar audience. For example:

For an online AAC conference, my bio read: Alyssa is an Autistic PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program at the University of Rhode Island. Among other areas, they study Augmentative and Alternative Communication, both in the form of brain computer interfaces and as used by autistic adults. Alyssa hosted a United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication chat (#ussaachat) on AAC in the workplace and uses AAC part time.

In this context, AAC work, of any kind, was most relevant. My current position as a graduate student stuck around, but my audience didn't need to know ahead of time that I'm a math teacher.

Whereas, as a math teacher at the Art of Problem Solving, my bio reads: Alyssa first joined AoPS as a grader in 2010. They have an MS in mathematics and are working towards a PhD in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island, doing work on brain computer interfaces. Previously, they studied mathematics, mechanical engineering, and Mandarin Chinese. Alyssa placed 6th at Massachusetts State Mathcounts in 2006, and participated in both the AMC and AIME for all four years of high school. In their spare time, Alyssa reads (and sometimes writes) science fiction and fantasy, plays ultimate, and makes geometric art.

Teaching students who may be preparing for math competitions like Mathcounts, the American Mathematics Competition (AMC), or the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) is about the only time my middle and high school participation in those competitions remains relevant. And as a math teacher, my highest degree in math is at least as relevant as the highest degree I have or am working towards, if these aren't the same.

Neither of these bios mention my work for Disability in Kidlit, or any other publications, for that matter. But if I'm discussing disability and representation, or being a disability studies scholar in general, more of my writing matters.

No matter the context, it’s important to consider what accomplishments my audience is going to care about. I can claim to be a mathematician, a disability studies scholar, and a neuroscience student, but claiming them all at once definitely takes a lot of space and could confuse my audience.

When you're trying to squeeze your CV to fit within a maximum length, or write a short introduction for a presentation, how do you decide what to include?

[Image by Flickr user The Italian Voice and used under a Creative Commons license.]

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