So, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen someone include on their cv?
Probably the weirdest I’ve heard of is someone who listed their IQ. Apparently IQ tests don’t measure “good judgement about what to put on your cv.”
I’ve also seen or heard of a couple of faculty who list their high school, or high school achievements. Which I wouldn’t say is weird, but does seem a bit odd to me. Not to the extent that it would ever affect, say, a hiring decision, I don’t think (it’s rare for any one little thing like that to derail anyone’s job application). But a bit odd.
I have a few things on my cv that might be considered slightly weird. Or maybe not? I’m not sure. You be the judge:
- My cv notes that my undergraduate degree is magna cum laude, which I believe is Latin for “I went to a fancy liberal arts college or Ivy League university and did reasonably well, and I am still proud of it.” 😉 Although then again, it’s pretty common to list Latin honors. So maybe I’m just overly self-conscious in worrying that listing Latin honors might look a little weird?
- I list all the working groups, symposia, and editorial boards I was invited to join but declined. I list them because such invitations are one line of evidence of my standing in the field. But I’m probably at the point in my career where I should just drop them for the sake of brevity. And you don’t see many other people listing declined invitations, so it might look a little weird that I do. (UPDATE: I’ve dropped them now.)
- I have a paragraph on my blogging right at the end, in its own section. I actually don’t think many people would consider that weird, at least not after they read it. But I suppose a few people might. I’m not worried about this possibility, but it is possible.
There are other things you sometimes see people include on their cv’s that aren’t weird, in that they don’t make the reader think “Why would you list that?”, but that nevertheless give a bad impression:
- “In prep” papers, unless you are a grad student or postdoc. The only two reasons to list “in prep” papers are (i) to help convey what you work on, and (ii) to show that you are indeed actively working on something. But once you’re past the postdoc stage, you should have enough of a track record that you shouldn’t need in prep publications to convey (i) or (ii). Nobody reading your cv gives you even a smidgen of “partial credit” for “in prep” publications. No, not even if you say they’re to be submitted in the next three months and you specify the target journals, and not even if your target journal is Science or Nature. You can probably leave off submitted publications too unless you’re a grad student or postdoc, for the same reason. By the way, I learned this fairly late, and listed in prep and submitted publications on my cv until a couple of years ago. In retrospect, that was a (minor) mistake.*
- Listing anything other than peer reviewed papers in the same section of your cv as peer reviewed papers. Papers in prep, online preprints (even those that have received “post-publication review” in some form), letters to the editor of Nature and Science, invited papers that weren’t peer reviewed, particularly witty tweets…If you list any of that in the same section of your cv as peer-reviewed papers, people will think you’re trying to pass that other stuff off as peer reviewed papers.**
- Continuing to list retracted papers. I’ve heard of people doing this. You don’t want to be one of those people. No matter what the reason for the retraction.
- UPDATE #2: Do not list press releases about your work on your cv. No, not even if the press release was picked up by an aggregator like Science Daily. That’s transparent cv padding, it will only make you look bad. By all means include mentions of your work in the media–but press releases are not the media. And aggregators like Science Daily, Phys.org, and EurekAlert are basically just unselectively republishing a lot of press releases, sometimes after editing them a bit. So the fact that they’ve published about your work isn’t much of a reason for anyone else to be impressed. It’s nothing like a much more selective outlet choosing to write about your work instead of writing about all the other things they could’ve written about.
And of course, there are other things on which you’ll get conflicting advice as to whether to list them. So the floor is open. Got questions or advice on what not to include on your cv? Fire away!
*Until very recently I also listed papers on which a revision had been invited, but I’ve stopped now. Listing “in press” papers is fine, of course. If you do list submitted, in review, or in press publications, provide some sort of identifying information that could in principle be checked–the doi if there is one, or else the ms tracking number.
**And don’t put that other stuff in an earlier section of your cv, before your peer-reviewed papers. In general, you should first list your degrees and employment. The remaining sections should be in rough order of their importance to whatever position you’re applying for. You don’t want whoever’s evaluating your application to have to dig for the information they care most about.
UPDATE: This post describes some N. American norms of cv construction. Norms vary between countries. In general, I’m of the view that you should follow the local norms, so that those reading your cv can read it easily and don’t raise an eyebrow. See the comments for some discussion of norms in other countries.