Mastering the Curriculum Vitae

How well-written is your Curriculum Vitae? Does it make prospective employers swoon? Or cringe?

Don’t be the guy in this stock image. You can do this!

There are two parts to any professional job application: the cover letter and the resume/curriculum vitae (CV). In academic library-land, the CV is the preferred format (and can be a LOT lengthier than a resume). If you’re looking for an academic job in this market, you’ve got to be sure that your CV reflects your true awesomeness!

If you’re starting from scratch, organize your employment history as well as educational, committee, and volunteer history as well as other personal information before you begin. You’ll save yourself a headache later!

The CV is different from a resume – the Purdue OWL explains the basics.

Here’s a list from Dartmouth Graduate Studies on what to include:

  • Applicant Information (Name and contact info)
  • Education
  • Awards/Honors
  • Grants/Fellowships
  • Research Experience
  • Teaching Experience
  • Publications and Presentations
  • Related Professional Experience
  • Languages
  • Other — Memberships, Associations, Conferences
  • References

Standard resume advice is not to exceed two pages, but it’s very common for CVs to be three or more pages depending on experience.

If you have an existing resume/CV, here’s 6 Small Changes you should make (from AskAManager). Objectives are outdated and a NO-NO. Also, don’t just list your duties from each position you’ve held. Stand out from the crowd by listing what you accomplished at each position.

If you’re stuck, look at other job seekers’ CVs. One of my favorite things to do is Google the CVs of librarians with the sort of job that I want. For instance, I’d love to be an instructional librarian, and I can see what experience real-life instructional librarians have and how they structure their CVs.

Remember that for each application you need to craft a custom cover letter that, along with your CV, addresses each point in the job posting and how your experience meets it. Search committees will be scoring your application based on the job posting. Make their job easy! Here’s a fun post from The Chronicle on What Search Committees Wish You Knew.

Cover letters are a post for another day. Is there advice you would give to someone crafting/perfecting their CV?

Your Move: What’s ahead in your library career?

I had a friend once that asked me: what’s your five-year plan? He said – if you don’t have one, you’re going to be in the same place five years from now.

I thought about that. And then I got myself a five-year plan. In fact, my plan now goes longer than that. If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there? 

Especially in library-land. What do you want out of your career? Do you want your MLS? Do you have your MLS and want to be a librarian? Are you a librarian and you’re unsure where you’re going next?

These students are figuring it out. What about you?

Get a plan. The plan will change, but it’ll keep you moving.

First – what do you want to do? Are you happy where you are, or do you want a change? The library school at San Jose State has a solid library career development website. The Occupational Outlook Handbook has a page listing careers in Education, Training, and Library Occupations. The SimplyHired blog offers Top Ten Tips for Planning Your Career.

Many library staff decide that they want to pursue an MLS. That’s a big decision! Think about what you would accomplish with your MLS. Odds are very good you’ll be accepted to library school, but think hard about what you’re going to do post-MLS, especially if you’ll be in debt for it. The job market is improving, but library careers can be very competitive.

Still, there are success stories. American Libraries has advice for Toughing it Out in a Tight Job MarketMr. Library Dude offers job hunting advice for MLS candidates. Hint: figure out your career BEFORE you graduate. Also: experience, experience, experience!

Common advice is that “geographic flexibility” will be required if you want career advancement. ProQuest offers that and more advice on how to snag a library job.

As for right now: be a great employee, do good work and network with colleagues. Give and get great references. Be happier at work. Read awesome job blogs, like Alison Green’s Ask A Manager. Green has FANTASTIC advice on writing resumes and interviewing. Check out Naomi House’s I Need A Library Job page to get an idea of what jobs are out there and what skills you need to work on to get them. AzLA has job resources. The MPLA has a Job Line.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend joining Toastmasters to work on your speaking and leadership skills. (Full disclaimer: I’m an officer for Twilite Toastmasters in Tempe.) A Toastmasters meeting is a “learn-by-doing workshop.” It’s fun, it’s a supportive environment, you’ll make new friends, and you’ll gain skills that will help you get ahead.