Converting Your CV to a Résumé

If you are enrolled in a doctoral program, or if you are a master’s student planning on applying to PhD programs or pursuing a career in research, you should actively maintain a curriculum vitae, or CV. (If you don’t know what a CV is, please refer to What Is a CV?). A CV is used to apply for fellowships, grants, postdoctoral positions, teaching and research positions in postsecondary institutions, high-level research positions in industry, and curatorial roles.

Regardless of your degree program, if you are considering a career in any other field, you should also create and maintain a résumé, which is required to apply for positions in almost every sector except for those listed above. A résumé is a one-page summary of your education, work experience, credentials, and accomplishments that are relevant to the job for which you are applying. Pay close attention to the language in the position description if you are uncertain which document to submit with your application.

Differences Between a CV and a Résumé

Length: While a CV presents a full history of your academic credentials, a résumé presents your relevant skills, knowledge, and experience clearly and concisely. There is no page limit for a CV, but résumés should typically be one page, or two pages if you have more than ten years of experience.

Emphasis: A CV focuses on your scholarly engagement, including coursework, teaching, research, publications, conference presentations, and academic service. However, a résumé highlights work experience, transferable skills, and accomplishments relevant to a particular job; this may include project, research, or grant experience. Typically, individuals maintain just one CV, but will create separate, more customized résumés for each position for which they apply.

Audience: Your CV will be read by a search committee either within or adjacent to academia, but the reader of your résumé may not be familiar with academia. Your CV may be screened using Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software by HR professionals or other employees at the organization before it reaches the particular hiring manager.

Transform Your CV to a Résumé in a Few Simple Steps

  1. Research and identify skills and qualifications in your industry and jobs of interest.
  2. Generate a list of your transferable skills and relevant experience.
  3. Review sample résumés in the Design Your Next Steps guide and the résumé tip sheet.
  4. Organize your information to highlight experience and skills relevant to the target job.
  5. Use action verbs to describe your experience and accomplishments.
  6. Streamline your document. Remove superfluous information and use clear and concise formatting.
  7. Proofread and update your résumé on a regular basis.
  8. Meet with a GSAS Compass advisor to receive feedback and suggestions for revisions.

Also refer to the Princeton University Center for Career Development’s Transforming Your CV to a Résumé.

Transferable Skills

Translating your graduate school experience and accomplishments into language of actions and skills that resonate with your target audience is key to developing a strong résumé. You have acquired many skills as a graduate student that can be used in a variety of professional settings. Clearly stating these skills on a résumé is crucial to a successful job search. To begin thinking about what you can offer an employer, make a list of your abilities and accomplishments, and think about what general skills they involved. Some examples common examples include:

  • designing a research project
  • collecting and analyzing data
  • researching
  • solving problems
  • writing articles, reports, and successful fellowship applications
  • presenting findings at a conference in front of an audience of n people
  • explaining complex problems to a range of audiences

Consult these resources for more information on transferrable skills:

Résumé Structure

Résumés are organized using headings such as “Education,” “Experience,” and “Skills.” Within each section, entries should be in reverse chronological order (i.e., beginning with the most recent and working backward in time).

Education: List institutions of higher education and degrees earned. You may also include GPA, majors and minors, honors and awards, and relevant coursework.

Experience: Illustrate your work and academic experience most relevant to the position. These descriptions should be accurate and concise. Use active voice and action verbs to demonstrate your skills. Do not only summarize your responsibilities: Focus on your accomplishments and achievements. It is often best to divide your experience into two to three sections, with headers that are tailored to the particular position (e.g., “Project Experience,” “Research Experience,” “Communications Experience,” “Leadership Experience,” “Media and Digital Experience”). Then list relevant positions and projects under each appropriate heading.

Activities: You can transform activities from your academic career into work experience on a résumé. These may include volunteering or leading a student organization. Include these activities in an “Experience” section if they entailed meaningful and relevant work. Otherwise, you may opt to list them under a different heading.

Skills: At the end of your résumé, include a short section noting technical skills that are transferable to the workplace. These may include languages, software, and design.

What Sections NOT to Include on a Résumé

Objective: Résumés used to begin with a line stating your interest in the position or industry, but this has gone out of fashion. You may consider a three-to-four-line summary if you are mid-career and trying to change paths.

References: Provide names of references separately, if requested. Also, do not write “References available upon request,” as this is understood.

Publications: You can list these on a separate page, or you may include a “Selected Publications” section. Include these only if they are relevant to the work.

Awards: List these under education, or incorporate them into your experience.

Extensive Coursework: Include only the classes most relevant to the job.