The course of your life.
Yes, that's essentially how Curriculum Vitae translates.
If mine actually reflected my real life, it would be made of tree leaves for the first page, pollution for the second, cigarette burns for the third, tire marks for the fourth... you get the idea.
Today I've been meditating on how you should never underestimate the value of spending two hours polishing your CV. Specifically, the formatting of your CV.
Yes, it's true. The formatting matters almost more than the content.
In a recent Academic Job Search workshop I attended, one of the exercises they had us do was to be the search committee. We got to evaluate two candidates. We used real application packages with all identifying information blocked out.
Most of the people in our workshop chose the person whose CV was formatted to be longer. Much longer. Everything double spaced and indented TO THE MAX. It was very pretty, and seemed much more impressive just because of the length. Every time you had to turn the page you thought, "Wow, there's a lot on here."
I'm talking ~ 3 pages for one person compared to ~ 10 pages for the other.
Oddly enough, I picked the person with the 'ugly' CV, because that CV had more qualifications relevant to the job description, even if it took me on the order of 10 whole seconds of looking through each of them to figure that out.
But the point wasn't lost on me. Not knowing anything about a person, it's hard to know who to pick. If all they look at is your CV, it makes about as much sense as judging whether to like someone based solely on whether they have pretty feet. You're just looking at one part of the elephant.
Considering how much time we spend prettifying our papers and grants, it seems reasonable that if you're serious about getting a job, then your CV should be gorgeous.
Ironically, I've always prized my CV as one of my better application features. I thought it looked pretty good, and had lots of strong content. I've shown it to lots of faculty and tried to take their feedback on fonts, which section goes where, etc. Nobody said I was doing anything egregiously wrong.
But this exercise made me realize that it probably doesn't matter if I have more publications than either of these anonymized people (both of whom now have faculty positions in real life). What matters is that you literally have to look good on paper.
I never understood what that really meant until now.
My CV didn't need to go to a gym. It needed to go to a day spa.