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I'm sending my CV for postdoc positions in computer science in Europe (esp. Germany). My special focus is academia rather than the industry. I was wondering what is the preferred order of information to bring there? For instance, is the following order acceptable/preferred?

  1. Personal information
  2. Education
  3. Work experience
  4. Research Interests
  5. Teaching experiences (TA)
  6. Computer skills
  7. Publications
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As a general rule, your CV should reflect both your strengths, in decreasing order, and the strengths that your target audience is looking for, in decreasing order. If those two priorities don't coincide, you may not be a good fit for the position.

From the list in your question, I would guess that you have more teaching experience than research experience, and that you value your research record (= publications) less than your teaching record or your "computer skills". This may be appropriate for a teaching-oriented position (in particular, one where you are teaching "computer skills"), but it's exactly backwards if you are aiming for a research-oriented position.

Assuming you're applying for a research-oriented postdoc position:

  • Personal information, including your work and education history, must come first, because that's standard, and you don't want to give anyone an excuse to think before they read the content.

  • Awards next (if you have any), because you want to convince people that you're good at what you do (or at least that other people think so), even before they read the actual content.

  • Publications next, because that's all that a majority of the hiring committee cares about. Be sure to distinguish invited papers that carry extra prestige, because you want to convince people that you're good at what you do, even before they read the actual content.

  • Then grants (if you have any), because the people hiring you want to know that you can get money on your own. This is less important than your ability to publish good research, but more important than....

  • Everything else, with whatever is more impressive and/or relevant for your desired position first: Presentations, teaching experience, advising/mentoring experience, community service (conference committees, refereeing, ...), university service (serving on an admission committee, organizing a seminar, ...)

  • References at the end, if and only if the position requires references in the CV itself.

I would omit "computer skills" entirely, unless those are actually the skills you want to be hired for. (Then again, I'm coming from computer science, where "computer skills" are so necessary (and therefore boring) that actually mentioning them is weird. Your community may have different expectations than mine.)

  • +1 When I was applying for jobs, once upon a time, I had multiple versions of my CV, all with the same content, but varying the order of sections based on the priorities of the position I was applying for. And as JeffE suggests, the extent to which that matched my own priorities was a good indication of which positions I was a better fit for. – Mark Meckes Mar 22 at 12:28
  • Thank you for all the information. BTW, I was wondering where should I talk about my skills as a computer scientist? For instance, if the job wants someone with skills in statisitacal analysis, then where in my CV I can mention that?! – Babak Mar 22 at 13:43
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    You mention that by having publications that demonstrate your skill in statistical analysis, and by describing your specific contributions to those papers in your research statement. Not in your CV. – JeffE Mar 22 at 13:45
  • I've also seen people putting their research interests in their CV. Is it unnecessary? – Babak Mar 22 at 14:05
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Yes, this is acceptable as are many other formats. It is not worth obsession about the exact format you use (though it should make it easy to find relevant information -- so use a good page layout). What does matter is the content of the CV.

But if you're unsure, look at the CVs a lot of people post on their websites when they are on the market for jobs. So look at the CVs of other postdocs you know and see how they structured theirs. Clearly, what they did might not have been the best possible format, but it was good enough to get a job!

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Mine CV (in CS) is structured as follows:

  • Personal
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Publications
  • Lectures hold
  • Teaching & supervision experience
  • Grants and fellowships
  • Position offers
  • Talks
  • Peer review & further community services
  • Languages spoken
  • References.

It depends on a position, but I think that contrary to what one might imagine, no one cares what programming languages and frameworks a later-term postdoc or a professor is fluent it. You obviously are able to get things done if you are this far. They'd be more interested in your funding experience and publication track.

  • Regarding the talks, is it the same as my oral presentations at the conferences? – Babak Mar 21 at 23:40
  • Oral presentations at conferences, invited talks at conferences, invitations to colloquiums and hearings. – Oleg Lobachev Mar 22 at 19:59

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