I can change and I hope my CV can as well ...
July 24, 2008 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Transitioning a (rather forceful) banking CV to an academic CV?

I'm taking a year off my banking job to complete another Masters degree (this time an MBA).

I've been employed as a Visiting Lecturer in Econometrics at a University in the London since early 2003, a job that typically takes about six hours a week. In that position I've lectured on 'Forecasting Financial Markets', and 'Corporate Finance' (the capital markets track for that course) teaching against a UK approved syllabus for one year, or two complete academic terms each. Since 2005 my primary responsibility has been to tutor students through their Masters dissertations, in areas that compliment my industry experience or research interests (Risk Management, Structured Products, Asset Bubbles, Credit Derivatives). I say primary as I do get asked to participate in one off lectures where students get the "inside track" on exactly what its like to work on a trading desk, or occasional labs where we'll structure live deals via Bloomberg against a changing market. I really enjoy this work, and have come to the realisation that I actually like this better than banking.

Recently (actually thanks for an AskMetafilter post) I've become aware of jobs.ac.uk, and whilst perusing the listings noticed that many UK colleges are interested in hiring people with advanced degrees and relevant industry expertise.

I have what many people describe as very strong / forceful CV, but I realise that what constitutes a powerful case for hiring in banking circles may appear a tad aggressive for academic purposes.

Also, I'm not really sure what to emphasize for a pure academic CV; in banking circles lots is about the institution you were employed by, your position, it's role in the firms hierarchy, accomplishments during your tenure and (especially!) value add to the enterprise. Power verbs such as accomplished, drove, initiated or pushed serve to introduce each line describing accomplishments in the firms I've been employed by.

My sense is in academic circles it many of these statements wouldn't be appropriate but I'd like to get some clarification. Also, advise on how to restructure my CV would be appreciated. Currently I've got a high level summary, bullet points of specific strengths/expertise, detailed industry experience, high level overview of academic experience (my teaching post), publications, education and professional courses. I guess what does a "typical" academic CV look like?

On my CV I've listed multiple degrees, note my MBA as "expected Q4 2008", but otherwise education is summarised as degree, topic (e.g., "MSc Quantitative Finance, University of London, London, UK, 1998 -- dissertation focused on US Equity Markets micro structure.") - for an academic CV would I expand markedly on this? Also, I've got a Management Accounting degree (CIMA) that I don't put on my CV as I really don't want to do that type of work. Include or not on an academic CV? And regarding my undergraduate degree - Math & Computer Science, which I took in 1980 back in The United States - how much detail to include?

Publications: I've reviewed galley proofs of several finance & economic books - include or not? And while I don't have anything as sole author in a peer reviewed journal, for the last five years of my banking career every position I held involved writing market commentary. My mandate (as I negotiated it) was very, very broad, and typically allowed me to touch upon topics either directly or indirectly impacting the market. Stuff I was interested in, first and foremost (FASB 157 which I've written about on Metafilter is an example). Distribution of this commentary reached three thousand at one institution, clearly valuable, but how to pitch for an academic CV?

Could anyone point me to a template or even a site where I can review academic CVs?

I've consistently gotten very high marks by students as I talk the lecture material then tell them how things really work in the markets (and theory does in fact agree with practice at times). What is really driving this interest in pursing an academic position is the realisation that I love to help people understand the markets, and haven't undertaken my current lecturing job for the money. At all.

While I'm dedicated to taking a year off work I'd like to explore alternatives, and this seems viable.

Finally, I've already boosted my teaching hours at the University that currently employs me, and I'm curious about pursuing jobs at other institutions solely to get a better taste of life as an academic. Who knows, if things go well I may never return to banking.
posted by Mutant to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
erm...sent you a mefi mail.
posted by jadepearl at 9:21 AM on July 24, 2008

You are right that there are different norms in academia. But be aware that there are substantial differences across countries as well. The best guides are probably the CVs that some academics at local universities will have posted on their web sites.

With that caveat, I would downplay the action-verb stuff, list all your degrees with relatively little detail (not uncommon to add supervisors of thesis), segregate pubs by those out/being published/in working paper form, etc.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:30 AM on July 24, 2008

Googling "academic cv" turns up a number of how-to guides and postings of professors' CVs (predominantly US, however -- US/UK academic culture is similar but not identical, so use local advice rather than US advice where possible). Lots of US graduate departments and university career centers also have "how to" guides on their websites.

In the US, CVs follow a pretty set format, with minimal action verbs. The teaching section, for example, might have a list of key courses or subject areas, but you don't have a powerful "Drove 32 students to achieve highest reading goals for each week; achieved highest average grade inflation for the quarter" blurb about each. Instead it might just say "Fall 2006, MIT Business School, Math 201: Actuarial Imaginings; Sci 302: Markets and Your Mother."

Because the format is so set, and the use of action verbs and blurbs so minimal, an academic CV is really easy to scan for quality. You can glance at the publication section, for example, and immediately see how much has been published and where. When people pad their CVs it can be really visible, compared to the person with serious credentials.
posted by Forktine at 9:57 AM on July 24, 2008

Also, take a look at the first three results from this google search -- there are plenty of sites dedicated to addressing the minutia of US/UK CV differences.
posted by Forktine at 10:01 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Check out "The CV Doctors" over at the Chronicle of Higher Education. It's a column written a few times a year by Julie Miller Vick and Jennifer Furlong. It is completely centered around these questions - for people moving into academia, people moving from a professor to an administrative position, grad students going on the market, etc. Their old columns might give you some tips and best practices, and the interactive stuff they put online is really fantastic.

The Chronicle has a whole section on Tools & Resources for job seekers, including an arrangement with CareerPerfect, a professional CV writing firm, if you want to go that route.

Vicks is also the co-author of "The Academic Job Search Handbook," along with Mary Morris Heiberger, who was associate director of career services at Penn. You might want to pick up a copy and see what information it provides.

I've also found it helpful to go to university websites, go to the personal sites of the professors who you respect, and check out their CVs - often posted online in Word or PDF files. It'll give you a good feel for format, writing style, and how they're edited.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:08 AM on July 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

Mutant, you should be aware that there is a real status (and pay) distinction between academics who have a PhD and academics who have Masters' degrees. The former permits you to conduct research, which is the raison d'etre for most academics. The latter permit you to teach, which is considered a lesser capability in academia. This is true on both sides of the Atlantic, but especially in the UK (where you seem to be) - to the extent that research/teaching/service posts (often known as "tenure track" although the UK does not in general have tenure any more) and teaching posts may be considered two separate and divergent career paths. This is exacerbated by a University funding system in the Uk that has a flat-rate per student for teaching, but a sliding scale of funding depending on the Department's research output quality.

If you are serious about wanting to convert to academia, there are various permutations of the ESRC's Management Teaching Fellowship, which - despite the name - is actually sponsorship for mid-career business managers to convert to an academic research/teaching career, including completion of a PhD. Some details of such a scheme can be found here, but there appear to be other permutations open (see the ESRC website). For most of these opportunities, you need a University department to sponsor you, so applying for a teaching post or a higher degree are ways of getting into one of these schemes. An MBA is an excellent entry point - the UK is focused on attracting more business school academics.

As regards the CV, academics do not like "descriptive" CVs -- a short summary paragraph is the most I have seen on academic CVs. There is a nice pro forma academic CV (with advice) available from Warwick University . As the University of Kent notes, academic and CVs may be much longer than standard: up to 4 or 5 sides, to cater for long publication lists. I will add to the resources given by others with a link on how to turn your CV into a resume for career changers (Chronicle of Higher Education). Mostly, you need to demonstrate that you have the potential for an academic career, which includes evidence of academic writing (conference or journal papers if you have any), ability to synthesize across multiple sources of information, etc. The academic writing style is passive and reflexive - I have seen academics talk of someone who writes in the first person as "brash" or "egocentric." Any opinion should be substantiated (backed up by a citation that supports your position). Even if you are not interested at all in research, an academic institution will be interested in your ability to communicate evidence impartially.
posted by Susurration at 10:57 AM on July 24, 2008

I only know about US straight-academic CVs.

There are no verbs. At all. There are no sentences. At all. There are no adjectives that are not part of the title of a work or the name of an institution. A US CV is a straight-up list of relevant details with essentially nothing else.

Accomplishments and value-added in the banking world are publications in the academic world. The equivalent of the action verbs is the titles of the journals that have accepted your articles.

In a US academic CV a junior person might list their most recent or expected degree like this:

PhD, Blah U, expected 2008
Dissertation: Title (maybe a two-sentence description)
Chair: Whoever the chair of your committee was

You would normally list all your other degrees down to your BA, but just in a list.


Do you mean that you have written book reviews that have themselves been published? If so, you can list those for now, but if you ever get your PhD and apply for jobs at research schools, drop them -- they scream "I'VE GOT NOTHING!"

You can list your internal publications, or some highlights of them. If so, include copies. They won't carry much weight, but are better than nothing. The closer they are to straightforward research papers / articles, the better.

If you want to do this full-time and not be shat upon regularly, and not be completely disposable, then you need a PhD.

Again, all from the US straight-academic perspective.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:33 PM on July 24, 2008

This is all great advice, but the last thing to consider is the cover letter which is important too. There you can riff (albeit it a very corseted academic way) about certain points in your CV that you'd like to highlight and that are in keeping with the description of the job to which you are applying. That's also the place where you write in the first person.

I only know about US conventions (despite being a Brit) and the differences between academic and non-academic CVs are stark. Then again there are important differences between regular resumes in the US and the UK, so the same might well hold true for academia.
posted by ob at 3:28 PM on July 24, 2008

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