Should I modify my CV to emphasize certain traits before including it in my application for a master's degree or just include my usual professional CV?
An academic CV typically contains items you wouldn't want to list in a professional resume, such as a complete publishing history. Your resume may list as a bullet point that you are published, but they don't want 20 pages listing each publication, for instance. So, yes, your academic CV should be different.
Yes, it's a good idea.
It's a good idea to tailor your CV and/or resume to each position you apply for. Keep two copies of your CV:
- comprehensive (academic) version that has everything you've accomplished in academia and your profession, and
- short version that only contains pertinent information.
Some applications require you to submit a short (2 page or less CV). You might consider submitting both a long and short CV to your program.
A CV is very different from a professional resume. Your CV should emphasize those elements that pertain to the Master's program that you are applying to. For example, if you've been working in a biotech lab and are applying to a bio MS, then filter that up to the top.
Academic publications should also rank very highly -- but deprecate most non-academic publications such as novels, unless you are applying to an arts or literature related MA>
You should always modify your CV to emphasize certain traits. If a decision maker is sorting CVs, you want yours to be noticed. Citing specific and credible experience directly related to the program (or company for a general CV) to which you are applying, gives you a much better chance of getting noticed.
I personally re-work my CV for each opportunity I ever applying for. It takes 15 minutes, and can make a huge difference between where you will spend the next few years of your life.
Take the 15 minutes to rework your CV and make it specific to the desired opportunity.