Tips for Grads: Keeping up with your CV

By Olivia Gacka, PhD Student

I write on this topic not from a place of superiority, but from one of great and sincere humility. I am so awful at remembering to update my CV. So, when the time comes that I need to give it to someone or submit it somewhere, it’s always a big scramble to remember every paper, committee, or job that I have to add before I’m ready to send it off.

I know I’m not alone in this, that while some of you have an ever-updated version of your CV ready to go (good for you, you’re doing great), there are many that leave it to the last second like me. But keeping it updated is important, not just for your sanity, but for the fact that rushing to throw things in there can result in something missing that you may wish you included later. Here are some things I’ve been doing to encourage myself to get better about updating my CV:

  • Keep records: Keeping a note on my phone with everything I’ve done since I last updated my CV, including a sentence or two of specifics to help freshen my memory, has made it much easier to slip things into the newest version. Remembering exactly what you did for a certain search committee or conference prep may not remain top-of-mind after the job is done, so it’s best to keep track.
  • Keep it handy: If you bounce between devices often, keep your CV somewhere you can access it no matter where you are, like a cloud-based storage system or a flash drive. If it’s easily accessible you’re much more likely to update it, whether you’re at home, at the library, or at work.
  • Keep it consistent: I’ve resolved that the last Saturday of every month is CV update day. If I have anything to add, which plenty of times I won’t, that’s the day I put in my calendar to remind me to update. You may think it sounds like a lot, but I can promise you that it’s much less annoying to see the alert on my calendar and skip it than it is to add in everything that’s happened over six months in one sitting.
  • Keep it down: How many variations of “FirstName LastName CV Updated” “FirstName LastName CV Spring 21 FINAL”, and the like do you have saved right now? I’m telling you, just delete them. From one grad student who has accidentally updated their stale CV from three years’ previous, to another who may do it any second now, I’m telling you: keep your most updated version and either delete the rest or keep them far, far away from your current version.

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.