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CV/Resume & Cover Letter Writing. Brian Rybarczyk, Ph.D. [email protected] Director, Academic & Professional Development The Graduate School UNC Chapel Hill. Goals. Learn effective structures of CVs and cover letters How to align content of CV and cover letter with job ad

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Cv resume cover letter writing

CV/Resume & Cover Letter Writing

Brian Rybarczyk, [email protected], Academic & Professional Development

The Graduate School

UNC Chapel Hill


  • Learn effective structures of CVs and cover letters

  • How to align content of CV and cover letter with job ad

  • Tailor your own CV and cover letter






Other Application Materials


Research/teaching statement

Writing samples

How long do prospective employers look at your cv resume and cover letter
How long do prospective employers look at your CV/resume and cover letter?

A) 30 seconds

B) 2-3 minutes

C) 20 minutes

D) throughout the hiring process

What are they really looking for
What Are “They” REALLY Looking For? cover letter?

  • Fit – background (research and training discipline area) and qualifications aligned with posted position

  • Experience – aligned with posted position

  • Productivity

  • Other

    • Other qualifications specified in job ad

    • Pedigree – Educational institutions, advisors, labs

    • Time to degree

Academic cover letter?

  • Area of research/scholarship

  • Productivity: pubs & presentations

  • Teaching

  • Grant writing

  • Fit with potential colleagues

Strategy Development Process to cover letter?Achieve Competitive Advantage

Distinctive Competencies –

Differentiation Advantage


Cost Advantage


Value Creation



What do you have to offer that they want?

What’s your Differentiation Advantage?

EXPERIENCE cover letter?

You can translate the experience you have to the job you’re applying to

Either you have it


What if
What if… cover letter?

  • I don’t have a lot of publications?

    • Explain type of research/project

    • Describe progress of the project

  • I don’t have the right skills to match job?

    • Think about projects differently

    • May not be the right job for you

  • I have experience in other areas

    • Highlight transferable skills

    • Management skills, project development, teaching, organization

Job cover letter?





Other Application Materials


Research/teaching statement

Writing samples

Cover letter advice
Cover Letter Advice cover letter?



Know your audience

Detailed and organized

Can do all that is required

Non selective, may not be able to fulfill responsibilities

Not serious about THIS position

  • Address properly

  • Match materials to correct position

  • Address all aspects of the job description

  • Stretch your fit for the position

  • Missing/Generic letter

Education cover letter?

Ph.D. English & Comparative Literature – UNC Chapel Hill (December 2011)

B.S. English with a minor in art – Cornell University (May 2006)

Education cover letter?

Ph.D. English & Comparative Literature – A.B.D., expected 2013

Large Research University, City, State

Dissertation title:


B.A. English Literature, minor Art History – Cornell University 2006

Teaching Experience cover letter?

TA for English 101 course – Spring 2008

Instructor, ENG322 – Fall 2009

Instructor, ENG250 – Spring 2010

Teaching Experience cover letter?

Large Public University, City, State, Graduate Instructor, 2006- present

ENGL 102 – Grammar and Structure

ENGL 101 – Essentials of Language

Teaching Experience

Instructor, Large Public University, City, State

Grammar and Structure (undergraduates, Spring 2007)Essentials of Language (undergraduates, Fall 2006)

Teaching Assistant, Small School, City, State

Introductory Writing (undergraduates, Fall 2005)

PUBLICATIONS cover letter?

Your name, author 2, author 3. Year. Title. Journal, Issue.


Title of grant, funding agency, duration, amount (role: PI)

Exploration of North Carolina’s Water Quality, Environmental Protection Agency, 2010-2013, $10,000 (role: Director, PI: Dr. Smith)

General guidance
General Guidance cover letter?

  • Know your audience – need to tailor documents for position and place

  • Describe experiences to illustrate marketable skills

  • Highlight results and accomplishments – not just tasks

  • Quantify and qualify

  • Break up long sentences

  • Be consistent – dates, formatting, etc

  • Absolutely no mistakes allowed – Proofread!

  • Importance is shown by order (top to bottom, left to right) reverse chronological order

  • Use text formatting to make information easy to find (i.e. bold, underlines, bullets), and headings but do not overdo it

Don ts
DON’TS cover letter?

  • Forget to seek assistance

  • Worry about length – no set rules for CVs

    • 3-5 for early career, 15-20 for senior scholars

  • Include unnecessary information - i.e. interests, hobbies, martial status, age, race, and religious affiliations, astrological sign, kids names, etc.

  • Be humorous or cute

  • Be careful of CV advice from UK websites

  • Pad

Cv padding
CV Padding cover letter?

  • Presenting a paper multiple times

  • Lots of “manuscript in preparation” or “forthcoming”

  • Too much description of research

  • Including lots of “invited lectures” which are really local, dept seminars

  • Including non-authored publications

  • Long lists of courses taken

  • Class presentations

Social media
Social Media cover letter?

  • Ensure consistency

  • Dangers of what is public – think about transition from grad student/trainee to professional

    • Blogs, Facebook

  • LinkedIn – (more resume like than CV)

    • Summary important – who, what, why unique

      show that you’re connected, you know field

Resources cover letter?

The Chronicle’s CV Doctor

Resources cover letter?

  • Versatile PhD – Premium Content – Hiring Success Stories – samples

  • University Career Services


  • LinkedIn advice


  • Faculty and other students/postdocs in your depts

  • Resumes