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When I was applying for grad school, I felt that my CV was pretty empty and so I included all my research related presentations (posters/talks) from conferences/competitions/etc (11 of them at the time). However, I am not sure how much of a role they played in my acceptance at that time (I feel I mostly got accepted based on my papers and two very strong reference letters).

Now I keep a semi-complete (semi- because of infrequent updates) list of presentations on my website; this is mostly so I can post slides. However, I feel the list has gotten too long for a CV (~25 items; about a full page) and other more important parts of my CV (such as publications) have grown to need that space more.

When should I start omitting or shortening the talks on my CV?

If I include a 'selected' talks section: How many talks should I select? Should I select them based on prestige of venue, or uniform-covering of my interests, or uniform-covering of my time (show that presentations are a regular activity)?

More context: I am at the graduate-student level in my academic progression. A related question: Do presentations given during interviews count as invited talks?

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Short answer: After you get a tenure-track job. – JeffE Apr 26 '12 at 3:18
Really ? I've been repeatedly asked to keep my presentations on my CV for departmental evals, and a non-scientific scan of senior faculty CVs indicates that many people keep their lists of presentations. – Suresh Apr 26 '12 at 16:14
Sorry, I should have said "Not before...". I've certainly seen many CVs that don't list standard conference talks at all. (Also, CVs meant for human consumption are different from university-mandated forms for bureaucratic consumption.) – JeffE Apr 26 '12 at 20:00
Without the discipline context, this is a pointless question, @Artem. In computer science, talks in cool conferences is everything. In statistics, you are accepted to pretty much every conference you are applying to, so getting some talks is not a big deal at all (winning the student competitions to travel to these conferences might be, though). In economics, I sometimes see acknowledgements for the "participants of the seminars at [list of 25 universities]": it takes them 3-5 years to publish a paper, so a well-connected economist might indeed give his or her talk 20-some times. – StasK Apr 29 '12 at 14:41
@StasK I was no aware of these distinctions, this could make a good answer for others that come to the site (I think we have some policy about allowing answers of the form "In this field..."). My personal question is pretty well answered by the current answers though, since I come from a theoretical CS/physics background. – Artem Kaznatcheev Apr 29 '12 at 16:05

4 Answers 4

up vote 29 down vote accepted

First of all: note that there is a difference between an academic CV and a resume.

  • An academic CV typically lists everything you've done related to academia; every talk, every conference paper, every award, every grant, every mentored postdoc, grad, and possibly undergrad.
  • A resume is a two-page document that summarizes your work/academic experience.

(Terminology may differ, some may refer to the first as a resume also; semantics aside, there is a distinction between the two documents.)

That being said, the answer to your question depends on which document you want to complete. The first should have everything, no matter how old. The second should list your most important, more recent accomplishments, in the interest of space. Regarding the second, the answer to "when should I remove stuff" is simply "whenever you have newer and better things to put in it's place".

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I am not sure if I agree with your definition of academic CV. I obviously have no experience on hiring or admission committees, but the CVs I've seen on profs' websites still include some level of summary (usually by having a selected papers and selected presentations section). These documents are still much longer than 2 pages, what category do they fall into? – Artem Kaznatcheev Apr 26 '12 at 2:12
Frequently faculty will put up shorter versions of their CVs on their websites to give an overview of their work. Alternatively, many full professors will simply either stop updating them or just keep information on most recent and important publications. That said, your full CV should list out nearly everything. Part of evaluating a CV has to do with heft. You want it to have nice fresh stuff on top and go on for a significant number of pages. – Trevor Owens Apr 26 '12 at 2:52
Any CV that you actually send to a (US computer science) hiring committee must list all of your formally published papers. Talks don't matter as much, except as a second-order indicator; over time these tend to be replaced by program committee and editorial board memberships. – JeffE Apr 26 '12 at 3:17

As you do more things, you can become more selective with what you list. I think most computer scientists quickly stop listing conference talks for papers that already appear in their CV. Then you can stop listing small talks you gave at your own department, etc. People who are very well established often become even more selective, listing only the big invited talks. You have to figure out the right balance to strike.

I think there's no right or wrong answer -- it's just a matter of how you want to present yourself and what you want to emphasize. I also don't think that section is at all the most important. It's good to show you've gone around and given some talks, but I think you're mostly evaluated on your actual research. Also, I don't understand the concern of running out of space on a CV; CVs unlike resumes have no page limits.

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Here is what I do. I distinguish between talks/posters where you basically just applied and paid the conference fee versus any talks where someone invited you.

A poster where you just submitted an abstract often just means you paid to attend the conference (there is normally a bit of filtering to exclude any overtly commercial offerings, but this is not peer-review, as 90+% of things are accepted). Things like a department seminar, where every student can or is even required to present, similarly just means that you were attending that school. So, do not have these on your CV as you probably already list which schools you attended.

If, however, you got invited to give a talk somewhere, this is different as it means someone thought it was worth their time and money to have you come over and give them your ideas.

As for talks or posters related to peer-reviewed conference proceedings, list them as such ("peer-reviewed proceedings publication" or some equivalent formulation) and not as talks.

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"this is not peer-review" is area specific. I'm at a conference right now where pretty much all the accepted papers are presented as posters, with only a tiny fraction being pulled out for 5 minute or 20 minute spotlights. – Suresh Dec 6 '12 at 20:01
But is there a publication associated? If so, list that. – luispedro Dec 6 '12 at 22:27
I edited my response to take your concerns into account. It is also a more precise rendition of what I actually meant. – luispedro Dec 7 '12 at 12:23

What I've seen from faculty candidates and faculty has been a graduation to "Invited talks" after a certain point on their CV. Invited Talks cuts out talks that you did at conferences (because it's assumed if your paper got in then you went to present your work) and stuff you volunteered to do. It does include when you've been asked to go somewhere to present (e.g., job talks about your research, when your advisor invited you back to talk about your new research/company, etc.) So if you feel like that section is getting really long, that's one thing you could do.

Your mileage may vary depending on your discipline though, this is specifically in Computer Science.

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