Thursday, January 24, 2013

CVs : Windows into the Soul?

The results of the Fake-CV Contest are in.

I think we should call it a tie between Fake CV #2 (A. Lex) and #4 (Magical Robot Unicorn), with an impressive showing for Adolph H. Jones (#5). Thanks to all who participated in the vote and especially to those who submitted Fake CVs.

What have we learned? Anything? I think we already knew this: some CV pitfalls probably result from inexperience or no/bad mentoring and others represent a deliberate attempt to inflate a not-so-great record. The latter does not necessarily mean the CV-writer is a jerk. But it may indicate that.

A larger question is: Can a CV possibly be a reliable indication of who we are and one's ability to do creative, productive work, not to mention whether one possesses any relevant interpersonal skills?

Maybe, sort of for some things, but not for others.

For example, I think that most of us who read dozens/hundreds of CVs of various sorts in a typical academic year know that even the basic metrics of success can be misleading. More publications = better than fewer publications? Not necessarily. Are the papers in good journals? Was the individual in question the primary author (by whatever author-ordering scheme is the norm in that field) of most/some of the papers or an apparently minor co-author? Are these substantive papers or least-publishable units? And so on.

Those are 'knowable' things (just by looking at a CV). There are also unknowables (just by looking at a CV); for example, even if the individual was primary author on one or more papers, does that mean what it is supposed to mean? (the same could be asked of someone who is an apparently minor co-author).

Similar complexity may be involved in other classic CV components, such as # of invited talks, honors/awards, even grants. I have seen people list their advisor's grant in a category called "grants" on a CV. Does that mean the individual in question wrote the proposal or at least played a major role in the writing and development of the ideas? Perhaps. That certainly does happen and is worth noting. Or is this just the grant that supported them but they didn't help write the proposal or develop the ideas? I have seen that as well. These types of things need an explanation.

Of course, the CV is typically just one document among many in an application or nomination file and there are other ways to convey a more complete picture of an individual.

Nevertheless, one of my colleagues recently tried an experiment. He first read only the CV in each file in a large pile of applications and made a list of the "best" ones based only on his impression from the CVs. Then he read the complete files (statements, letters etc.) and found only a few cases in which his opinion changed relative to reading only the CV. [If that had been a real experiment, all names/places would have been removed so that first impressions (from the CV) wouldn't influence the second evaluation (from deeper reading of the file), but that's hard to do.]

What made a CV stand out in this case? From what I saw of his list, it wasn't prestige of the university or fame of the advisor, but mostly how interesting and significant the publications looked (from the title) to my colleague, and other publication-related factors (number of papers, number of primary-author publications, 'quality' of journal).

So, I think the CV does say a lot about us; these contain useful data. Are they a window into the soul? That is where I waffle and say: yes and no.....

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fake CV Contest : The Vote

It is indeed time to vote for your "favorite" CV (you can of course define "favorite" however you want: most entertaining, most bizarre, most horrifying, most illuminating...).

Here is an attempt at a recap of each Fake CV:

1 : Seward "Bo" Gritt III: manuscripts "in prep.", manuscript "submitted" to Nature (meaningless)

2 : A. Lex (Lutheran U): this one has an incredible number of "issues" and is difficult to summarize succinctly

3 :  Buster Bristhlewaite: quirky, not the typical "academic" CV

4 : Magical Robot Unicorn: the "perfect" candidate who is going to get the job for which you applied but won't get because you are not a magical robot unicorn

5 : Adolph H. Jones: unprofessional e-mail address, typos, sad list of "technical skills", disturbing content

6 : Robert "Bob" Smith: no first author publications (in field in which authorship is clearly not alphabetical), maybe some shingling..

7 : Dee S. Perate: thin publication list; one real publication hidden in list of "gray literature" to make list seem longer


Which Fake CV is your favorite (you can vote for more than one) free polls 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fake CV pre-vote

We are almost ready for the vote on your favorite Fake CV, but I just wanted to check and see if any major CV-issues have remained unexplored. There are submissions that I have not posted (apologies for that) but some would be repetitive with ones I posted already, and others didn't seem to be related to STEM-field CVs, the topic of this "contest".

Sorry for the anxieties these fake CVs may have caused anyone, but perhaps it is better to see some potential CV pitfalls in this way? In some cases, CV fails are because the applicant's record just isn't that great and the applicant tries, via creative CV formatting and organization, to hide some of the shortfalls. In other cases, however, what may well be a highly-qualified applicant undermines their application by the way they construct their CV. Example: when someone with a decent number of interesting publications in respectable journals hides these among non-equivalent types of "publications" just to make the publication list appear longer (see Fake CV#7). The hiring committee (or whatever) is unlikely to be fooled by this.

Perhaps we will vote tomorrow. In the meantime, please comment on any unexplored CV-fail issues or submit a last minute Fake CV to exemplify a useful and/or entertaining issue.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fake CV #7

Another cautionary tale, writ in a CV:


Postdoctoral Fellow, 2008-present
PhD., 2008, Femtoscience, Genius Institute of Technology
B.S., 2001, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Math (quadruple major), Brilliant Institute of Technology


Perate, D.S., 2012, On being a femtoscientist. Brilliant Institute of Technology alumni bulletin, p. 15.

Perate, D.S., 2011, Whither femtoscience? Genius City Press (editorial, April 3, page D7).

Perate, D.S. and Advis, O.R., 2011, Femtoscientific analysis of a nanocomposite layered material with 3Rt structure and inverse polytypic vacancy switching. Journal of Femtoscientific Analysis, 22 (3), 345-361. (impact factor: 17)

Perate, D.S. and Advis, O.R., 2009, Femtoscientific analysis of a nanocomposite layered material with 3Rt structure and inverse polytypic vacancy switching. Abstract F354-32, "Less than Nano" annual conference, Danvers, Massachusetts.

Perate, D.S., 2008, Femtoscientific analysis of a nanocomposite layered material with 3Rt structure and inverse polytypic vacancy switching. Ph.D. thesis, Genius Institute of Technology, 289 p. (with Appendix).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fake CV #6

This (partial?) CV contains at least two possibly-puzzling elements one may encounter in publication lists. Depending on the (sub)field, these elements may be complete non-issues (may even be the norm) or may be Red Flags.

Robert "Bob" R. Smith

Science Department
Science University
Scienceville, SC

Employment History

Postdoctoral Research Associate, 2010-present, Science Department/University

Education History

PhD, 2010, Science, Department of Science, University of Science and Engineering
B.S., 2005, Science, Department of Science, Other University of Science and Engineering


A.X. White, T.R. Green, B.C. Black, K.E. Pink, R.R. Smith, N.I. Brown, V.C. Beige, and P.R. Taupe. The discovery of scientific evidence for some science things. J. Sci. Thi., v. 349, p. 12,345-12,399, 2012.

B.C. Black, A.X. White, T.R. Green, P.R. Taupe, K.E. Pink, R.R. Smith, N.I. Brown, and V.C. Beige. Scientific evidence for an engineered solution to some science questions in nature and experiment. Proc. Nat. Sci. and Eng. Stu., v. 1, p. 18-21, 2012.

R.W. Rabbit, H.F. Lizard, E.U. Dachshund, N.V. Worm, R.R. Smith, C.F. Sheepgoat, D.T. Rooster, and W.G. Dolphin. On the science of engineering, I. Theory. Trans. Theory Eng. Nat. Sci. Lett., v. 23, p. 556-572, 2011.

J.-P. Oak, D.D. Maple, C.V. Aspen, R.R. Smith, E.J. Birch, L.F. Pine, and E.S. Larch. Investigation of scientific results on a scientific experiment: implications for science. J. Exp. Sci. Res., v. 59, p. 47-95, 2011.

M.W. Cupcake, C.B. Brulee, W.D. Cheesecake, R.R. Smith, and V.B. Crumble. Evidence for scientific science in a vaccuum. J. Und. Sci. Res. Res., v. 16, p. 201-222, 2005.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fake CV #5

OK, this one may be a bit off-putting at first, but if you read beyond the name, there are some informative aspects of it. The author of the fake CV explains:

The CV below is composed almost entirely from the pieces of dozens of real CVs of graduate students who have applied to work in my research group. (Some of these statements, such as the cheap Jew comment, were not actually on a CV, but were said to me by a candidate during the interview and I wrote it in my notes on his CV, so I think it counts too.)

Personal Website:   

•    Critical thinking and sensitivity to numbers
•    Excellent ritten and oral communication skills
•    I can do anything I set my mind to if I know how to do it!

•    Operating systems: DOS, Windows 3.x\95\98\ME\XP\Vista\7
•    Productivity: Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Power Point, Visio, Access and Corel Word Perfect

•    2006 – 2010 – B.Sc. in Computer Engineering, Small Liberal Arts College, GPA 2.6/4.0. However I got serious as a senior and my GPA in my final year was a 3.2

•    September 2012 – Independent Research on the employment situation of engineering students
•    June 2010 to August 2011 – I worked as a web developer for The Local Art Gallery, however I was let go because my employer did not want to pay my salary anymore (he was Jewish and you know how cheap they are….)

•    Second prize Badminton tournament at college sports fest
•    Won the “Best Out Going Student” of the year award
•    “Star Volunteer” of the 2010 Local Small Town World Expo
•    “The University Scholarship” – I got this prize because I was in the top 30% of the 16 students in the computer science major in my university

•    Successfully completed a workshop in ‘ROBOTICS’
•    Currently writing a novel about teenage vampires
•    Coordination engineer of “ABHHIYANTHRIKI ‘08”
•    Negotiated with school cafeteria manager to make them depress the unreasonable food price

Monday, January 07, 2013

Fake CV #4

This is a very interesting fake CV, in part because of the reasons why it was created. Says the author:
I decided to .. make the CV of the mythical wunderkind I imagine is the dream candidate in the applicant pool of whatever it is for which I'm humbly supplicating. It's basically an impossible exaggeration of actual people I know that I think of when I am applying for something.

Also of note is the series of comments at the bottom, annotations from a fake search-committee:

Dr. Magical Robot Unicorn
Dept of Science
University of Fame and Awesomeness
1234 Mt. Olympus, State, USA

2011-present: University of Fame and Awesome, Postdoctoral Fellowship of Awesomeness
2008-2011: Possibly Even More Amazing University, PhD
2006-2008: Insanely Eminent University, B.Sc., Summa Cum Laude 

* Prof. Progenitor oftheField 
* Prof. Future Nobelaureate  
* Dr. Director oftheNIH

Grants and awards
* MacArthur Fellow
* Giant NIH Grant, co-PI 
* Best Speaker Ever, TED 
* Most Beloved Teacher, Possibly Even More Amazing University
* Top Dissertation, awarded by Important Professional Science Organization 
* Best Undergraduate Honors Thesis, Insanely Eminent University 
* Gordon E Moore Award, Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

Selected Publications
* Unicorn, M.F. (in press). Pulling off the paradigm-shifting experiment everyone thought was impossible. Nature.
* Unicorn, M.F., OtherPerson, Other Person, & Nobelaureate, F. (2012). Inventing the breakthrough technique that will drive science for the next 100 years. Science. 
* Unicorn, M.F., & oftheField, P. (2011). An elegant unified theory of everything. PNAS. 
* Unicorn, M.F. (2010). An article that finally makes an important body of scientific work accessible to anyone. Scientific American.  

Annotations made by Search Committee Chair: 
* Education: note the impeccable pedigree and insanely efficient graduation dates which clearly mark Dr. Unicorn as a wunderkind
* References: the holy trinity of letter of reference writers -- (1) the living legend who founded the subfield we have been dying to hire in, did I mention Dr. Unicorn was his very last advisee? (2) the current hot stuff so you know Dr. Unicorn is part of the bleeding edge, and insists Unicorn was really the one responsible for the work everyone knows will be nominated for the Nobel one day, (3) person of important position who happens to be a close personal friend -- did you know Dr. Unicorn has also been raising her 2 beautiful children without a nanny and with no discernible impact to her professional productivity and famously charming collegiality?  
* Publications: demonstrates uncanny chops in all domains -- popular science writing, theory, engineering, and experimentation
* The awards, letter and writing samples let you know this person will kick ass in interviews and be a great colleague 
* Result: let's get real people -- do we even need to look at any other applicants?

Friday, January 04, 2013

Fake CV#3

This one is from EuropeanFemaleScienceProfessor. Apparently most of it is based on a real CV, with the exception of the duck thing.

Note that it is not too late to send your own submission, especially if you have been inspired by the ones posted already.

Dr. Buster Bristhlewaite                                                    (Picture of Dr. Bristhlewaite
Merrygo Lane 13                                                                   in a swimsuit holding his son
Podunk, New York, 12345                                                   and a plastic beach ball)
Fon: (202) 123-4567
Fax: (202) 123-4578

I am 6^2 years old, happily married and have a wonderful 4-year-old son. I am very good at teaching people how to pass standardized tests.

Current positions:
  • ·      Adjunct professor, Mathematics, Programming, and Duck Husbandry at Massive Online University, since 2008
  • ·      Tutor, Mathematics, PassThatSAT, since 2007
  • ·      Tutor, Mathematics, MyMathBuddy, since 2007
  • ·      Duck farmer, since my Daddy died in 1998. I was born and raised on the farm.
Previous positions:
  • ·      Feed salesman, 1996-1997
  • ·      Insurance salesman, 1998
  • ·      Taxi Driver, 1998-2008
  • ·      Substitute Math Teacher, Trumansburg Elementary School,1992-1994
  • ·      Trumansburg Elementary School  1980-1986
  • ·      Charles O. Dickerson High School, Class of ‘92
  • ·      Ithaca Community College 1992-1994
  • ·      Cornell 1994-1996, Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics
  • ·      Columbus University, 1996-1997, Master’s Degree in Information Systems
  • ·      Tri-Valley University, 2002, Doctorate in Applied Mathematics

I enjoy swimming, watching football on TV, and spending time with my family and my ducks.

  • ·      High school diploma
  • ·      Bachelor’s and Master’s degree certificate
  • ·      Copies of the business cards I printed up after I obtained my doctorate
  • ·      Examples of the SAT training materials that I developed
  • ·      Taxi Driver’s license
  • ·      Evaluations from Massive Online University
  • ·      Testimonials from students who passed the SAT with flying colors

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Fake CV#2

Here's another one. If the author wants to claim authorship in a comment, they are of course welcome to do so. I should have mentioned that yesterday. Some people indicated this information with their submission, and some didn't.

This one clearly has a few Issues, and I don't mean the unconventional education history. Can you spot them?

Prof. A. Lex, Lutheran University

2001: PhD in physics, Phoenix State University
Thesis advisor: S. A. Ruman
Thesis title: Computation of the band structure of a 3-ring conjugated gold compound
1994: MA in physics, Phoenix State University
1989: BA in physics, UC Surf Board (minor in recreation studies)
1984: Associates of Arts Degree, Recreation Studies, Miami Beach Community College

Academic employment history:
2010-Present: Associate Professor of Physics, Lutheran University
2004-2010: Assistant Professor of Physics, Lutheran University
2001-2014: Postdoc, Asgard University (Mentor: Prof. Lo Quy)
1998-2001: Adjunct Lecturer (part-time), Arkham College

1) Theoretical publications: Over 100 articles posted on vixra
Selected publications from peer-reviewed journals:
A. Lex et. al., Antarctic Journal of Theoretical Physics, "Density functional calculation of acoustic phonon dispersion in kryptonite", v. 13, pg. 666-669 (2009)

2) Experimental publications:
A. Lex, S. A. Ruman, Journal of Astrological Optics, "Laboratory detection of a 1.0 solar mass star in vicinity of earth", v. 48, p. 1516-1523 (2001)
*Paper retracted when an error was discovered in the filters used to block stray light from the windows.

3) Additional Publications (not peer-reviewed):
A. Lex, "Unclogging the PhD pipeline: Lessons from one mentor's experience", Annals of Improbable Research, v. 42, p. 13 (2011)

Teaching award:
- Most-improved Teaching Assistant, Phoenix State University (1996)

Mentoring accomplishments:
-Of 9 grad students supervised, all 9 have left with a Master's

Committee service (selected):
2010: University Committee on Faculty Conduct
-In collaboration with a faculty member from the law school, I helped the committee parse the difference between "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" and "preponderance of evidence."
2008: Department Budget Committee
-As a result of my efforts, the university has initiated twice-annual audits of the Department's finances
2005: FEMA Science Advisory Committee (member)

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Fake CV #1

Here is the first example submitted for the Fake CV Attempt-At-Academic-Humor thing. I typically try to come up with names for the title (something more interesting than "Fake CV #1), but I thought maybe you -- the readers -- would have some illustrative suggestions for this. For each CV, consider leaving a comment that captures the essence of that CV.

Note that I do not necessarily agree with the philosophy and attempt-at-humor in each CV that I will post, but I do appreciate the efforts of those who have submitted fake CVs. Some of the CVs are a bit surprising considering that the senders note that many/most elements of the CVs have been observed in real CVs. Food for thought. 

Has anyone seen anything like this submitted for an academic position before?


Dept of Science
University of Here
43 Campus Road
Campustown STATE USA


PhD 2010 Science
University of There
Dissertation title: "Further analysis of some things my advisor analyzed 10 years ago"
Advisor: Associate Professor JJ Tasker

BS 2005 Science
Summa cum laude
The College

Academic Employment 

Postdoctoral Research Associate, 2010-present
University of Here

Fall quarter, 2007, Teaching Assistant "Introduction to Scientific Concepts"

Recent Academic Honors and Awards

Zippy D. DooDah Award for "Best Dissertation Title", 2010, University of There

Science Geek of the Year Award, Dept of Science, The College, 2003-04 (declined)

Dean's List (4x)


Gritt, S., et al., Analytical results from materials analyzed, to be submitted to a high-impact journal (in prep.)

Gritt, S., et al., Chapter 4 of my dissertation, to be submitted to a high-impact journal (in prep.)

Gritt, S., et al., Further analysis of analyzed materials. Nature (submitted)

Tasker, J.J., Gritt, S., et al., Additional analysis of materials previously analyzed. Science (submitted)

Gritt, S., Material analysis of materials analyzed. Journal of Specialized Material Analysis of Materials, v. 1 (3), p. 57-59.

Invited talks (pending)