In a comment, ff524 said this (and got confirmed by scaahu, Nate Eldredge below (not to mention the number of votes)):

Actually, academic CVs are typically not as sales-pitch-y as non-academic CVs. They are usually a very formulaic listing of all the academic things the candidate has done, with no editorializing or embellishment [...]. The "sell" is reserved for other parts of the application.

Why? I know that there are some differences in academia than other environments, but I can't think of a reason why a CV shouldn't be a sale pitch. Sure, we have other metrics to evaluate that, like h-index, but what is so wrong that putting other things (like about me, objectives, other courses, English certification, class standing, etc)? I am asking this question in general, but I also ask it from the new young student standing point in specifically. I know that if you are a novice, LOR are very important. You can say that a CV should be concise and into the point, but a half-page long CV may show that beside that point, you have nothing.

I just wonder what is the harm of making the CV like a sales pitch?

  • 26
    I guess it depends what you call a "sales pitch". "Top publications: X, Y, Z" is definitely "allowed". However, I puke in my mouth a little bit everytime I get a CV that reads something like: "Life Objective: to reach pinnacle in the field with sheer determination, dedication and hard work." (yes, this is, unfortunately, a real-life example that I found more or less randomly with 3 minutes looking through my Applications mail folder).
    – xLeitix
    Apr 1, 2015 at 20:23
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    A half-page long CV might show that you have nothing, but a half-page long CV with a page and a half of fluff shows that you both have nothing and are unfamiliar with academic customs.
    – Roger Fan
    Apr 1, 2015 at 21:02
  • 6
    “Life objective: tenure
    – gerrit
    Apr 1, 2015 at 21:10
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    @RogerFan has the key point: in some sense the reason is tautological. There may not be anything inherently wrong with including such verbiage, but people are not expecting to see it there, and including it makes it look like you do not understand standard academic expectations. It would be something like attending a job interview dressed as a vampire. It makes the reader wonder whether there are other standard academic expectations that you don't understand (such as, to give an extreme example, "don't sexually harrass your students"). Apr 1, 2015 at 21:24
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    Because CVs are typically accompanied by a cover letter, where a sales pitch is natural and expected.
    – Anonymous
    Apr 1, 2015 at 22:39

2 Answers 2


Largely, it is cultural. So far as I understand it, the idea is that "your record should speak for itself." Of course, you are selling yourself to a degree, by how you choose to put which pieces forward, whether to choose a "selected" versus a "completist" format, etc. The range of acceptable variation, however, is much narrower than for a job resume, and the format is built around showing credibility (in the form of accomplishments) rather than enthusiasm and fit with business goals (which is the goal of a resume).

  • But aren't other courses, English certification and class standing show your credibility?
    – Ooker
    Apr 2, 2015 at 10:29

In academia, the traditional CV format is exactly what people care about, i.e. it already is the sell. Other academics care about stuff like your papers, presentations, and teaching experiences. In general, very little weight is given to the other topics that you mentioned, so including them is a waste of space. The few places that they do have weight (primarily graduate admissions), the relevant parts are better suited to other areas of the application (e.g. official transcripts, TOEFL and GRE score reports) where they are more likely to be seen when needed.

Note that graduate admissions are slightly different from the rest of academia. CVs that are submitted here are often more of a hybrid between traditional resumes and academic CVs, in large part because prospective graduate students don't have the academic experiences and achievements to fill up the latter (somewhat field-dependent). But many of the same cultural norms apply. By and large, academics are not interested or swayed by unverifiable "fluff," so you should limit what you include to specific, concrete, verifiable achievements.

  • 8
    More than being a "waste of space" (space is not such a concern in a academic CV, especially early in career), the problem is that it decreases the signal to noise ratio (where the "signal" is the information of interest to the reader.)
    – ff524
    Apr 1, 2015 at 23:20

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