I am asking this on behalf of a relative of mine. He has a PhD with a concentration in Policy Analysis and Environmental Science and is trying to get a position in either a university/public sector or the private sector (research/policy analysis). He has been searching for a while and has had little success and is getting pretty discouraged. I recently looked at his CV and it seems like it needs a lot of improvement.

There is the catch though: he is not able to look for a position in the US at the moment due to visa requirements. Therefore, he is limited to looking outside the US (anywhere really).

Does anyone have any recommendations or advice as far as CVs go for academic positions outside of the US, particularly Canada or Europe (what should be avoided, what helps/hurts your chances, etc)? Any advice regarding online resources or CV editing services that cater specifically for someone with a PhD would also be appreciated.

  • I'm afraid that we don't do shopping recommendations, sorry.
    – 410 gone
    Mar 23, 2013 at 19:09
  • Any advice would be very much appreciated as well!
    – daedalus
    Mar 23, 2013 at 19:19
  • I think with an edit this could be on topic. Most universities provide career services and help with that type of thing.
    – StrongBad
    Mar 23, 2013 at 19:39
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    @DanielE.Shub Thanks, I edited the question a bit. My personal experience as an undergrad with the career center was pretty negative. They have a very cookie cutter approach that's helpful only if you are starting from scratch. But then there is a difference between undergrad and graduate cs I am sure, and every university is different.
    – daedalus
    Mar 23, 2013 at 20:37
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    What did his PhD advisor say when he asked for help? (He did ask his advisor, didn't he?)
    – JeffE
    Mar 23, 2013 at 21:21

2 Answers 2


While people often spend a lot of time tailoring the format of the CV, the two most important things are: do you have the experience the employer is looking for and can the employer easily find it. So while I agree that career services often suggest a cookie cutter CV one size fits all mentality, it really is a pretty god approach.

Unfortunately what really helps you get a job is a strong track record and not how that track record is presented on the CV.

  • Thanks, here is a two-fold follow-up if you don't mind: 1) What is the perceived difference between published/refereed articles and, for example, conference papers/articles in academia? What if the person has not published many articles in a journal but has had a lot of conference/other presence? 2) The same thing, but considered for a position in a non-academic area
    – daedalus
    Mar 24, 2013 at 18:00
  • (1) That depends on the field. (2) We don't know.
    – JeffE
    Mar 24, 2013 at 19:25

In principle, there isn't that much of a difference in the structure of a CV for US-based positions versus positions in other countries. There are a few items related to HR-type issues that you would never put in an American CV (such as photo, citizenship status, date of birth, marital status, or number of children) that can appear in an international CV.

However, there may be issues with respect to the kinds of positions that your relative is applying for. Are they appropriate with your relative's accomplishment level? (That is, you're not applying for a full professorship in Germany directly out of graduate school, or the like.) Plus, there is always the issue of demonstrating a match between the candidate and the position in general, as well as the quality of the work being performed.

  • Thanks. Its kind of a long story here but I'll try to be concise. He has been in academia all his life, but he received a PhD in Physics from a university in Ukraine. He had a decent body of published research and was an assistant professor before pursuing re-education in the US (life and prospects in Ukraine are pretty tough for academics). He has since received his Master's and PhD in public/envr. policy in the States, but he hasn't published that much here. Obviously now, applying in the new field, no one cares about his previous Physics experience, sadly, and that makes life difficult...
    – daedalus
    Mar 24, 2013 at 18:09

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