CV building

The other day, I was having lunch with some of the grad students from my lab and at one point the subject of building up your CV came up.  One of the things we talked about was adding leadership opportunities to your CV.  Of course, in order to do that, you need to have some leadership opportunities and R was thinking she probably didn’t have any to put on there.

R has been pretty focused on research, to the exclusion of anything else almost, and I think that dedication is what has netted her a first author paper in a first tier journal in her fourth year.  Her thought is that doing anything else will hinder her research and she won’t publish as many papers.  So, what’s more important, having as many papers as you possibly can, or adding “leadership opportunities” to your CV?  And what is it important for?  That is, do PIs looking for a post-doc even care about extracurricular activities?  Or maybe it’s important for post-doc fellowship applications?  Or maybe it’s important when looking at a tenure-track faculty position (I am focusing on a TT faculty position because that’s what R wants)?

You know what?  I don’t know the answer.  My sense is that employers are going to want to see that you can balance research with other responsibilities.  It seems like that would be an important quality for someone going into a tenure-track faculty position.  But, how much does what you did in grad school matter when you’re applying for a faculty job, anyway?

What do you all think?


11 thoughts on “CV building

  1. I think it depends on where you apply and your subfield. I had two first-author short reports (so original research, but short short articles) going into my t-t job. My husband has, I think, over ten and more in press. I focused on leadership opportunities because they were important to me, and knew it was a risk, but decided taking leadership on things that matter to me was more important than building my CV. And then it all worked out in the end anyway. Perhaps I just had the luxury of doing grad school the way I wanted, but I like to think being very confident and a good leader contributed to my getting this job.

  2. I think it’s a matter of balance – with the balance depending on what sort of job you want in the end. Universities will want to see that you can handle the teaching responsibilities, and the best way to prove that is to have some teaching experience (which is also leadership of course), but I’d imagine that you could “sell” leadership of extracurricular activities as evidence of teaching aptitude.

  3. I guess it depends on your goal and the type of place you’re like to get a TT job. I’m guessing top of the line research intensive places care more about the flashy publications than your service on a seminar organizing committee for example. Still, I think for maintaining sanity, it’s important to have balanced interests!

  4. I think the quality and quantity of papers will always matter when you’re applying for a TT position. I was on a hiring committee for one a few years ago and the first thing all of the professors looked at was number of first author publications (meanwhile, being a grad student, I was looking at their teaching experience!).

    But, I do think things are changing and people are realizing that teaching, outreach and service are equally as important. This is shown by the fact that you see outreach sections in funding applications now. So, I think it’s definitely beneficial to have both – not one or the other.

  5. Doing that kind of stuff as a grad student doesn’t mean jack fucking shit on your CV in the context of academia. Zip. Nada. The eyes of potential post-doc employers or faculty search committees will go past it without even seeing it.

  6. I would have to agree with Comrade Physio Prof. Leadership/committee work in grad school does not count for getting a TT job (I know, I’ve been on lots of search committees). Don’t get sucked into it there or even after you get the TT job if you can help it. Get published. Have some teaching experience. Network and get good references. And you’re good.

  7. Worse that CPP’s scenario, some eyes will land on that and start thinking “She could have had a few more papers if she wasn’t wasting her time with that graduate student senate crap”

    even if you feel compelled to do the extracurricular stuff, leave that society of fellows and graduate student union business off the CV…

  8. Different things matter to different members of the search committee, and to different kinds of jobs. The pubs, pubs, pubs mentality does exist in the R1 TT market, but can potentially work against you if your goal is a primarily undergraduate institution. Those schools want to see a dedication to teaching and mentoring… and that you’ve considered how to do science on a shoestring budget and with 20 year olds. Also, from my limited experience with industry-oriented grad students, they seemed to feel leadership experience was very important for their job searches.

    I think it’s also important to consider doing things you might leave off an R1-aimed CV because you want to do them, or because they help your personal professional development. Teaching can build public speaking skills, serving on grad student committees for regional/national societies can help you network, etc. I left some things off my job application CVs that I thought made me look ‘unfocused’ — if it becomes appropriate on the interview, by all means bring up your extensive leadership activities then.

  9. I agree with most of the previous comments … to get the postdoc position you want, work hard, publish as much as possible and skip the stupid committees during your PhD. If you’re going to be heading towards a TT career, cram in as much teaching as possible while at grad school as you probably won’t get to teach during a postdoc. My TT gig wanted someone with a strong research background, novel and fundable ideas and lots of teaching experience … most of my grad school/postdoc peers were lucky to have the first two points and NONE of them did much/any teaching.

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