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Developing Application Materials

As you explore different career paths and focus your search, you will need to develop job application materials that are relevant to different industries and roles. As PhD students and postdocs, you are probably familiar with a curriculum vitae (CV) and may have used one to apply for grants or fellowships as well as academic positions.

But what about a résumé? PhDs applying for positions outside academia generally convert their CVs to résumés, which are preferred in most other industries. While the CV and résumé have similarities, it is important to understand when to use each document.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

  • Typically 3+ pages
  • Detailed overview of academic credentials and accomplishments

Used when applying to:

  • Academic research and teaching positions, including postdoctoral opportunities
  • Positions requiring academic research, teaching, and publishing experience
  • Grants, fellowships, and some administrative positions in colleges and universities
  • International positions


Peers/colleagues with a shared experience who understand your disciplinary training and academic accomplishments


  • Typically 1-2 pages, concise
  • Summary of relevant skills, education and experience tailored to a specific employer/position
  • Conventions vary by career field

Used when applying to:

  • Most positions outside of academia


Recruiters and hiring managers looking for experiences that demonstrate you have developed skills (technical and non-technical) to manage the specific position for which you are applying


One of the biggest differences between a CV and a résumé is the focus on skills. While some CVs include bullet points that showcase skills or provide additional context about an experience, a résumé is built to showcase your skills as they relate to a specific position.

As you explore opportunities, be sure to research the company to learn more about their mission, values and work, so that you can articulate why you want to work there and what you would contribute as a colleague. It is also essential to carefully review job descriptions, so that you can tailor your résumé to demonstrate how your experiences and skills align with their needs and why you would be an ideal candidate for the role.

Find more information on developing effective application materials for academic and non-academic job searches.