Tips on Preparing a Vita
Your Vita presents YOU to a prospective employer.
Your vita should be:
Things to take note of:
Your vita must be absolutely free of any grammatical and typographical errors. This means use a spell checker!! It is highly recommended that you ask a faculty member to go over your initial version for errors in English and punctuation, and possibly offer suggestions on improving the presentation.
The vita should be written either in TeX (or LaTeX or AMSTeX - and use either 11 or 12pt) or using an advanced word processor like MicroSoft Word or WordPerfect.
Keep the vita free of all abbreviations, and any kind of short-hand notation. (For example, write University of Illinois at Chicago, not UIC.)
Each employer will be looking for different facts about you, so you should ideally have a specialized vita for each type of job you pursue. Listed below are guidelines for three types of positions commonly applied for: research instructorship, teaching assistant professorship, and industrial position.
These are just suggestions, and can be varied as necessary. The goal of these tips is to suggests points to think about in preparing a successful vita, well organized and effective.
This is the kind of job where you are hired almost entirely on your research abilities.
2) State your research area, and future research interests. This should be both broadly stated, so the application can be classified, and also include a more narrow interests, so a reviewer can get a feel for your specialty. (e.g., analysis and geometry; C*-algebras of foliations and their K-theory)
3) Include your education:
4) List your distinctions that you want the prospective hiring committee to know about: NSF graduate support, papers written, invited seminar talks, invited talks at AMS special sessions, etc.
5) List any special training or research/industrial experience that would make your case more attractive: computer experience & ability to teach computer courses, summer research experience in research or industrial environment, etc.
6) If you have publications, or papers written and submitted to a journal for publication, list these on the vita if at all possible. These make an excellent last item for the vita.
7) Keep the whole vita to one page if possible, without making it too crowded. If you have talks and some papers to list, two pages will likely be required. If it takes more than than that, you probably said too much.
Teaching Assistant Professorship
This is the kind of job where the expectations are a mix of research and teaching abilities, with the degree of each depending upon the type of school you are applying to.
2) State your career goals and the type of teaching position you seek: for example
3) Include your education:
4) List your distinctions that you want the prospective hiring committee to know about. A hiring committee deciding on a candidate for a position, where teaching is the main objective, will have a totally different emphasis on what they seek in a prospective candidate than for a candidate for a pure research position. Possible items to include and emphasize are: NSF graduate support, papers written, invited seminar talks or talks at AMS special sessions, all as before if you have these distinctions to promote. But also, it is important to bring out your teaching ability as best as possible. So possibly list special courses taught while a graduate student (e.g., PDP experience, or taught your own course). This is where you can include teaching evaluations from when you were a TA, or if you taught a class, from that class. (Of course, only if they were good! Best foot forward, always.) Especially, if you won honors for excellence in teaching, then mention this prominently.
5) List any special training or research/industrial experience that would make your case more attractive: computer experience & ability to teach computer courses, summer research experience in research or industrial environment, experience conducting tutorials, etc. It may even be desirable to list any courses you have taught which indicate experience and your ability to successfully conduct a class on your own.
6) If you are applying to a small, four year college, they often are interested in who you are as a person, for you will be joining their faculty as someone they will be friends with, or at least colleagues with, for years to come. It can be helpful to include some extra personal data to let them know something interesting about you, that will attract their interest (over the many other candidates). Personal data is not required, and its inclusion is again a tricky matter. The idea is to create a favorable portrait of what you might be like as a colleague. Possible items to consider listing are: hobbies, community service, volunteer work, membership in a local orchestra, and so forth.
7) Keep the whole vita to one or two pages. Any more, and you haven't stated your case succinctly (and they probably won't read it anyway).
Industrial Position The requirements of an industrial position can vary as widely as there are firms. There is only one golden rule: make sure the vita looks professional.
2) State the type of position you seek, and your career goals.
3) Include your education, beginning with the most advanced degree:
Masters (if any) - date received and from what school.
Undergraduate- date of degree and school, and any very special honors (e.g., Putnam Honors, first in class, etc.).
4) List your distinctions that you want the prospective hiring committee to know. The distinctions that matter for an industrial job can be much different than for an academic job. For example, they may not even know about the Putnam Exam. So judge this item by trying to get a feel for the firms where you are applying.
5) List any special training or research/industrial experience that would make your case more attractive. For example, describe any hands-on computer experience you have - designing software, projects, and so forth.
6) It can be helpful to include some extra personal data to let them know something interesting about you that will attract their interest: e.g., your hobbies, community service, volunteer work, and so forth. On the other hand, this information is strictly optional, and should not cause the vita to deviate from the main maxim: look professional. Also, be prepared to discuss it with an interviewer (yea! you got in the door).
7) Keep the whole vita to one page. The rule of thumb for an industrial vita is 1 page for each 10 years of experience. This gives you at most one page for your vita.
Use the Web
The World Wide Web is now an established, essential tool in the job search.
If you have not already done so, it is highly recommended that you create your own
professional web homepage, which at minimum is a hypertext version of your Vita,
and but can be much more, including listings of your expertise and projects completed,
and even include online versions of papers you have written. To get ideas of the possibilities,
look at homepages for faculty and graduate students in MSCS,
and also at other universities.
Attention can be called to your homepage by including a short phrase on your Vita, saying something like:
Just be sure that the homepage you post represents you professionally. It probably does not help your job search, if your homepage has a picture of your latest tattoo - save that for your personal home page.
|Updated November 28, 2006. The recommendations above are strictly the opinions of the author. This is a (slightly) updated version of the original version of this document, first posted to the web in November 1996. Comments are welcome and can be sent to Steve Hurder at firstname.lastname@example.org.|