First, be aware that there are several differences: the hiring timeline is much different, resumes are not the same thing as CVs, experience counts. If you are pursuing graduate study as a means of career preparation or advancement, you should build a resume outside of academia at the same time that you build one inside by pursuing internships, visiting job fairs, and exploring the enormous world of non-academic teaching, creativity, research, consulting, editing, and writing. Many potential employers are looking for creative people with sophisticated written and oral communication abilities, people with teaching abilities, and people who have advanced research experience (that goes way beyond Googling)—all abilities that advanced studies in English provide.
The Hiring Timeline
Non-academic and Alt-Ac jobs operate on a very different timeline from academic faculty jobs. Usually the position is posted for only two to three weeks before the review of applications begins, so you need to have a resume ready to go when you begin looking for non-academic jobs. You should also have a one-page cover letter that demonstrates that you have done your homework on the business/company/organization and understand how your abilities will fit—one general cover letter will not work well.
The review of applications often takes only a week, maybe two, before a shortlist of prospective interviewees has been determined and the contact calls or emails start coming. You need to be ready! Use the time to think deeply about connecting your abilities to the work you are applying to do. You bring more than just a skill set to the table—you also bring insight, creativity, and exposure to a variety of ways of thinking and being in the world.
The interview gives both you and the potential employer an opportunity to get to know each other better. Get a good night’s sleep, present yourself professionally, and have some “big picture” questions ready that you would like to ask about the business/company/organization, its philosophy and goals, and how the job you are applying for fits into those goals.
The offer, if it comes, follows quickly—the whole process from application to offer often takes less than a month…sometimes less than a week or two. If you receive word that the position has been filled, know that it does not necessarily mean that you were not an attractive candidate and avoid taking it personally.
Resume vs. CV (Curriculum vitae)
Resumes and CVs are different in terms of length, audience, and purpose. CVs are requested mainly for academic, scientific, and medical professions. Practically all other kinds of jobs ask for a resume. In each case, the document should be tailored to respond specifically to each job posting.
The purpose of the resume is to present your qualifications in such a way as to land an interview. It is your own personal advertisement of your skills and suitability for the job you are interested in.
The CV focuses on demonstrating that your credentials in terms of education, research, certifications, affiliations, and experience meet the requirements of the open position.
A resume may be reviewed (depending on the size of the business/company/organization) by Human Resources personnel, hiring managers, temp agencies, or individuals who are not necessarily involved in the job itself. The initial review and cut may even be done by algorithm, rather than by a person. In all cases, be sure your resume reflects the language and/or keywords of the job posting. Applicable skills, abilities, and experience may be more important than level of education.
The review of a CV is usually done by peers and colleagues in the field of medicine, science, or academic research. Most reviewers will have either specialist or general knowledge of both the field and the demands of the open position. They want to ensure appropriate education and credentials, applicable specialization(s), and (often) experience.
The resume usually presents its information in one or (at most) two pages. The content should be a precise, concise, easily navigated summary of education, experience, and relevant skills and credentials.
The CV, on the other hand, may run to several pages and reflects a professional lifetime of education, research, experience, and accomplishments.
For more detailed information, see Alison Doyle’s helpful article at https://www.thebalancecareers.com/cv-vs-resume-2058495.
In academic, alt-ac, and non-academic jobs, experience counts! In addition to excelling in your studies, take advantage of as many opportunities to gain diverse experience and insight as you reasonably may without sacrificing your grades; pursue internships, graduate assistantships, individual editing or tutoring jobs, and anything else that provides experience in whatever you might like to do. Exploring a variety of possibilities will give you better insight into the advantages of your graduate education, but always remember that you are a student, first and foremost. Excellence in your coursework tells potential employers (who sometimes ask for transcripts) something about you, too.
If you are pursuing graduate study as a means of career preparation or advancement, consider future possibilities and make plans to explore them early in your program. Avoid the trap of thinking about non-academic jobs as only a back-up plan or somehow inferior to academic options. Take chances to learn about a range of career paths and consider how they fit with your own talents, values, and goals. During your program, take advantage of self-assessment and career planning resources and consider conducting informational interviews and building a network of contacts in the various fields you might think interesting. You can find links to Resources for Comprehensive Job Planning on the English Department’s Graduate Student Resources page under Professional Development Resources.