Really Long Resumes

This is not really a law post, but it is something that I want to vent about.  Back in ancient times (the 1990s), my mentors indicated that a resume should be relatively brief.  Three pages was plenty, and that’s the rule that I’ve followed.

In the last few years, though, I’ve observed a healthy amount of resume inflation.  As a member of our hiring committee, I often see cvs that exceed twenty pages.  (I even saw one once that was 40 pages long!).  Is this just ridiculous, or am I just out of step with modern marketing?

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13 Responses

  1. shg says:

    But if they don’t include that they burped at a Harvard Law and Weaving Conference in 2009, you will never know how awesome they are.

  2. I think you’re conflating a “resume” with a “CV.” Different documents, different professional norms, different goals.

  3. Miriam A. Cherry says:

    40 pages? If you’re Cass Sunstein, I suppose… I’m merely a mid-career mortal, and am holding it down at 7.

  4. Gerard Magliocca says:

    Well, I think either one should be no longer than 3 pages, though I understand the some make a distinction between the two terms.

  5. Bruce Boyden says:

    I assumed it was the influence of people with graduate training in other disciplines. Academic resumes (or CVs — what’s the difference supposed to be exactly?) tend to be huge.

  6. Gerard,

    I don’t understand what goal would be served by arbitrarily limiting a CV to three pages. Are you going to not mention some publications? Not list talks that you’ve given? Ignore consulting, editorial positions, and the like?

    It seems to me that a law professor’s CV is normally little more than a reference document that people will occasionally glance at — in which case the CV being complete is far more important than the CV being easily digestible in full. Sure, the CV might from time to time be necessary for a lateral position, but lateral committees are not dealing with hundreds of candidates for a position. (The rationale, obviously, for the much shorter FAR form.)

  7. Gerard Magliocca says:

    Yes, you should omit things. Only important accomplishments or credentials should be on a cv. I don’t list every presentation I’ve done. That seems absurd to me.

  8. Bruce, here is how I have always understood the distinction:

    A resume is a short, focused document that describes a person’s experience and qualifications. They’re broadly used in employment contexts across a wide variety of professions. They’re designed for hiring purposes and quick skimming. It’s common to omit older or less important items, or to condense related items into a single summary point.

    A CV is a detailed, comprehensive document that describes a person’s professional accomplishments. They’re used primarily in academia, and specific norms about what is included are often specific to a discipline. They’re designed for reference and for more deliberate review. They’re usually not heavily edited to emphasize some items over others; once a category is considered important enough to be included at all (e.g. “chapters in books”) omission and condensation are rare.

    Gerard, there are disciplines in which it’s not uncommon to publish ten or more articles in a year, most years. Even in law, Mark Lemley’s list of law review articles and book chapters takes up six pages. A full CV is a useful documentary reference, and I wish more law professors made them available. There have been multiple occasions on which I found a useful, on-point article or chapter for a topic I was researching by thinking of scholars who might have written about the issues and then reading through their online CVs.

  9. Paul Gowder says:

    Surely there are some limits. Is it really done to, e.g., put every tiddlywink presentation one’s ever done?

  10. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    I agree. On a c.v., some things should be fully delineated, with each item listed, primiarly these: appointments, other professional employment, degrees, articles, chapters, and books. (It there are many of these, perhaps mnore than 20, it is helpful to readers that they be numbered for ease of reference.)

    Things that can be condensed into a short listing: workshops and conferences can be summarized in a single short paragraph by simply noting the location (school) and date (year); shorter works as for school magazines, trade journals even op-eds can be abbreviated as well; and committee and other faculty-related activities need not be delineated but summarized.

    Consulting activity need not be on an academic c.v., though professorial consultants may wish to maintain two different records, a c.v. for the academy and the resume for the consultancy. If so, the latter may likewise collect publications in summary fashion (by journal and year) rather than fully delineate them.

  11. Joan Heminway says:

    It has been interesting to read the post and the commentary here. Thanks, Gerard, for starting this conversation. I agree with James and Larry on this one. I see the CV as an academic blogroll, of sorts.

    But the production of shorter versions of pieces of the included information is always recommended–and for some purposes, essential (since the CV is primarily a comprehensive research document and, even with numbering the academic works, can be very hard to parse). A shorter version can be labeled as an “abbreviated CV,” and academics also can have, e.g., a summary biography, which tends to be written in the form of a narrative. But higher education CVs should, in my view, include all academic research/writings, presentations, and other relevant professional accomplishments and positions. What’s included is somewhat normative to the discipline, but it seems the law academy is a bit scattered on this and may not have clear norms.

    For academic administration jobs, it’s also often recommended that you do a summary of qualifications that is tailored to the position–with a few narrative lines and bullet points including key qualifications on which you want the hiring organization to focus.

    Resumes, on the other hand, should generally be one page for junior professionals and probably (my benchmark) no more than two sides of a page for more senior folks others (maybe three sides for a very accomplished executive).

    I guess my bottom line is that folks need to check on what the recipient needs/is expecting, given the various forms of CV, resume, etc. that are out there. Apparently, the terms have different meaning to different folks . . . .

  12. Jordan J. Paust says:

    And there are “bios” (short — perhaps a para. or two). On my “resume,” I list books (authored and co-edited); articles, essays, and book chapters (these are over 180 — therefore, my “resume” is rather long); miscellaneous; etc.

  13. The word “resume” means “summary.” It should not exceed two pages (and I have been a professional resume writer since the 1970s). A CV, on the other hand, can/should be longer and with more detail.