Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mentors and Mentees and the Rules of the Game

Most scholars, usually somewhere in graduate school, learn how to make their CV be presentable and effective. They are perhaps guided by their advisor, or by following the practices of someone thought to be exemplary. What is crucial is that their CV from then on is standardized enough so that they can be evaluated  without irrelevant considerations.

Once someone receives a very high prize (Nobel, National Humanities Medal,...), they might well have a very short CV, at least for public consumption. But in general, the CV covers the achievements over the years. In some fields, a CV might well be 40+ pages long since every talk, presentation, etc, is listed. However, in general it is much better to have a CV that is scannable--major awards, degrees, positions, scholarly work, and maybe a list of doctoral students supervised, significant service, and some more popular work. The idea is not to dilute the impression by combining less significant achievements with truly important ones. Moreover, once one is a professor of some sort, or has the advanced degree, achievements earlier on are not mentioned.

If there are so many publications, one might well list those of the last decade with a few significant ones that were earlier. If there are so many presentations, again selection may be useful.

If you have received many honorary degrees, so that your basement-office walls are completely covered by framed documents, you will want to figure out a way of listing them that does not go on forever.

And if you have had many collaborators in your work, it's not clear that you ought bold your name in the list of papers' authors. Better just let people find you.

The idea in all cases is to make sure that by page 3 or 4, you've quietly displayed your most significant vitae--the books, the awards, the grants, the positions, the leadership... Ideally, pages one and two give most of it away. If you've published 40 books, and been the major  author on all, then you might well still have only a selection of the books listed.

And if you do not have too many achievements, say because you are just starting out, don't fluff it up.

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