So, I'm on the job market, preferably a liberal arts university (I'm an economist). As part of that, I had three discussions with members of my committee about my job market packet. There is quite a bit of disagreement of the importance of one item of my CV, my business.

I started a software company where I developed an SaaS CRM and project management tool (not to mention all of the marketing, documentation, videos, etc.). This company has existed for over 10 years, it put me through my undergraduate degree, and meant that I wasn't living on "my stipend" during my PhD. And probably more to the point, I consider my own identity intimately tied to the company: after all I decided everything it did and did all of the work and I'm passionate about the products I made and how they are different than the competition (why they "deserve to exist").

When it came time to put my CV together, I said to myself, screw the normal order. Everyone has a PhD applying for a given job, why should that be first? So my order was:

  • Business
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Presentations
  • Education
  • Everything Else

I went and talked to a committee member who is more of a friend than anything else, he thought it was strange, but probably good. My chair thought it was fantastic idea. Then I spoke to another committee member, she thought it was just wrong -- and she has been on many search committees.

Not only just wrong, but deserving of no more than a bullet point under "industry experience", she compared it to working for a company (like working for a company and running a company are the same thing).

Now, I have a huge amount of respect for all three of these people (I'm unusual in that I actually like my committee). However, what I think happened is that the first two people understand what my company does. They get that product development is really hard and is very similar to research (and in fact harder than research in some cases). And a huge reason that I've been a productive researcher is because of the skills that I gained from the business (not to mention the "real world" perspective). However, when I explained that to the third person, she didn't buy any of that. And I think it is quite possible her reaction is more representative of someone who doesn't know me.

I get that the most important thing is research (and I have more research than most of my cohort, so I'm not suggesting this is a substitute). But people list absurd things on their CV. They list their community service (which I have as well, I just don't list it). Or not real awards (like travel grants). In fact, in this same conversation she suggested I list some extremely minor volunteer work for a grant she applied for. Certainly, the thousands of hours of work involved in my business has to be worth a lot more than that!

So this is my current thoughts. I list the "standard" order, but I still have a good half page on my business, albeit on page 5 of the CV. Thoughts? Does this really not matter at all?

1 Answer 1


I like your compromise proposal.

It is important, when writing a CV, to demonstrate knowledge and respect for the process by which you're evaluated. In my mind, that strongly suggest putting the "standard" stuff first.

But I also heartily endorse your decision to highlight your work experience. It sounds quite impressive, actually. Just do it after you have assured your prospective employers that you have the credentials and skills they're looking for.

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