Text reads: In a fascinating & unexpected turn of events, 
 members decided that our next big project will be on CVs! Like our 'Equity in Author Order' work, it'll highlight forms of labour usually left out, ideas of what good outcomes are, etc. Any ideas for good readings on this?
Fig 1. Tweet from right after the CLEAR meeting where we decided on our CV project. For more on our author order work referenced, see this link. For the “good readings” we found, see the reading list at the bottom of the page.

Every year, CLEAR members collectively decide on a lab-wide project. In 2021-2022, we decided to think about the politics of CVs and resumes. At CLEAR, we have an analytical and methodological specialty: working to bring anti-racist, anti-colonial, feminist, Indigenous, queer, equitable, and joyful politics and ideas of what is good and right into the “tight spaces” of traditional science that usually force these things out. 

CVs will not be the enemy here, but the site of possibility and of politics, the compromised field.”

– Comment from meeting notes, likely from Max, Fall 2021/Winter 2022

We spent a semester reading (see list below) and asking questions, telling CV stories, and discussing our experiences. In the second semester, we collectively came up with a set of research questions: What happens when we bring values such as humility, accountability, collectivity and to bear on a CV? What changes in terms of the CV itself, our relations with one another, our labour, our colleagues? We designed a series of three workshops, complete with before and after surveys and before and after CVs, to help us answer those questions.

A small portion of our insights are documented here (there may be more later, maybe not). This is a list of ideas of how to “do CVs otherwise” with some examples from our own workshopped CVs, shared with permission.

CVs otherwise

First, we want to acknowledge that there are many power dynamics at play in CVs and how they are used, interpreted, and leveraged for both opening doors and slamming them shut (e.g. Kang et al. 2016). While we can use CVs to weed out employers who do not share our values, employers are doing the same. Our CV interventions are a list of possibilities and potentials, but also dangers and risks. But for those of us fluent in code-switching, passing, hustling, slow activism, planting seeds, administrative activism, and similar modes of change: voila!

Humility (relationality)

When we say humility, we mean, “the understanding that our world is interconnected. Being humble means that we—as members of larger groups of humans and others—recognize that we are not singular nor superior in our knowledge, perspective, experience, or social position and that we are connected to others (whether we want to be or not)” (CLEAR 2021: 8. Emphasis in original). Here are some ways we thought about exercising humility in CVs and resumes:

  • Add bio/profile or even a position statement at the top, especially if you can’t include a cover letter.
Text reads: Profile Alexander Flynn (he/him) grew up on the South Coast of Labrador where he developed a passion for wildlife and ecology. He brought this enthusiasm to post-secondary studies, engaging with research in natural and social sciences centered around his home and experience. Is a NunatuKavut community member of Inuit and settler descent, currently living on the island of Newfoundland in the city of St. John’s, which is located on the stolen ancestral homeland of the Beothuk peoples.
Fig 2. A profile entry at the top of the CV that works as a position statement that foregrounds land relations.
  • Acknowledge community partners and non-academics, particularly in ways that are meaningful/appropriate to them
A long list of names, starting with Brian Hardlotte (Grand Chief).
Fig 3. Entry of a collaborative presentation that uses both presenter order and important positions in parentheses to note roles.
  • When describing a project, list those involved (training by, supervision by, funding provided by/PI who holds grants, collaborators, cohort, etc.)
The graph shows relatively few committee memberships in 2014-2017, evenly split between departmental, faculty, university, and Canada positions, and a doubling of  service, primarily at the university and Canadian level for two years before dropping back to previous levels after a sabbatical.
Fig 4. Employment position that names the supervisor and lab manager, as well as places, communities, and partnerships that made the work possible.
  • Include group affiliations (research groups, writing groups, think spaces) and/or move them to top of CV
  • Putting the type of collaborative work of different coauthors at the end of publications.
  • There are many types of collaboration. Be more specific. 
  • Ensuring we have permission to include the names of others
  • Creating/expanding a CV category to include “influences and connections” in addition to formal collaborators, even a written section on how scholarship has benefited from many colleagues who have listened, commented, and reflected in ways that continue to be so generous and generative.
  • Include sections such as an acknowledgment section, “Service to community” section, and similar headings that foreground relationships 
  • Include awards your workplace has received
  • Include land relations (various ways/relations). 
  • Include endorsements by community members, Elders, supervisors (not just a reference list, but an endorsement list, like Linked In)
  • Find other ways to show relationships to different groups, institutions, parts of institutions, etc. 
Fig 5. A graph of committee service and the first entry of the section. The graph and headings are used to show which types/parts of institutions receive service. The temporal dimension of the graph also shows how this has changed over time, particularly in terms of how different roles in the university impact where and how much service is committed. PS, this is quite a lot of service. It is not an aspirational diagram.

Skills and styles

Even though resumes and CVs are supposed to be showcases of our skills and experiences, we consistently found that lab members undersold themselves, sometimes to a surprising degree. We also wanted to find ways to showcase the various ways we flourish as people and as workers, researchers, collaborators, and teammates. Some of our strategies included:

  • Include a section with career highlights and/or move the most important/salient sections to the top of the CV
Fig 6. The first entry on a CV that highlights major career achievements and narrates the author in a more holistic, value-based way. The achievements were so awesome we wanted to highlight them all here instead of just showing a snippet.
  • Include interests, skills, publications of music, film, art exhibitions, volunteer work, leadership activities, educational preparation, training, areas of knowledge, endorsements, professional skills, those presentations you were invited to give, and other ways to highlight your well-rounded awesomeness
Coaches choice award for women's varsity hockey, 2010.
Fig 7. Including a non-academic award to show interests and talents outside of academia, as well as a fuller range of skills and talents.
  • Include promotions, and the dates of promotions, in the same institution as separate entries under employment positions (to show stepping up and growth)
  • Format your CV to make it beautiful in an aesthetic that speaks to your style as well as show your skills in styling


All standardized documents reproduce dominant norms about what is important, professional, and relevant, but there is always wiggle room in those standards (Bowker and Star 2000), and that wiggle room can be used to speak to power, widen what counts as important and relevant, or showcase the politics of those norms.

  • In the publication list–arguably the most important/valued part of an academic CV– show relationships between co-authors, whether in terms of labour, consent, position, etc.
Fig 8. Description at the top of the publication list that notes student authors (which is quite normal in academia) as well as when author order was a collective decision. The latter demarcation allows the reader to see the dynamics of different collaborations, including how some co-authors repeat in consensus-based publications and how others consistently…do not.
  • Describe which connections/influences are reciprocal and which are more unidirectional
The entry reads: COLLABORATOR
Any projects where I was named a collaborator but I did not receive any funding and where I was not an active member of the team are not listed. This removes approximately $15.5 million in name-only “collaborative” grants.
Fig 9. A description within a section on grants and funding. It is usual to have grants broken into sections where the CV author is the Principle Investigator (PI) or even a Co-Investigator, and where they are a Collaborator. In this case, the author choose to insert a short description that flagged the profitable enterprise of tokenism (needing gender or racialized diversity but only in name).
  • Include failures (failed grant applications, etc)
  • Don’t translate languages that aren’t English into English
  • Include your gender pronouns on your CV (see figs. 2 & 6)
  • Have a way to flag what to take out of your CV for more conservative/risky/racist/sexist adjudicators or what to put in for more community-driven/feminist/anti-racist adjudicators. Your CV doesn’t have to always be the same.


In the words of Cree researcher Shawn Wilson, “right or wrong; validity; statistically significant; worthy or unworthy; value judgments lose their meaning. What is more important and meaningful is fulfilling a role and obligations in the research relationship — that is, being accountable to your relations” (2008: 77). This is the type of accountability we mean here.

  • Find ways to list or note the relationships that mattered to a project and to whom you were accountable in research, in a position, or when learning a skill (see Fig 4)
Fig 10. The highlighted section in this job description outlines which organizations (and in which order) the person was accountable to.
  • For research projects or grants, include ethics permits, especially in terms of Indigenous land claim areas or Treaties, community ethic reviews, or similar formal or informal ethical frameworks
Fig 11. The highlighted section in this funding entry brings attention to the requirement for ethics permits outside of academic IRBs.
  • If you use other people’s names in your CV or resume, including but not limited to references, make sure you have permission
  • Include an acknowledgment section
  • Note on “This CV reviewed by…[community members, supervisors, names, etc]” as accountability
  • Include endorsements by community members, Elders, supervisors (not just a reference list, but an endorsement list, like Linked In)
  • Include a position statement on CV or as part of projects on CVs

The politics of own hiring practices

As a lab that hires people, CLEAR also sits on the other side of CVs and resumes! This project has changed how we structure our hiring practices, including:

  • Not requiring CVs or resumes for entry-level positions. The goal is to remove barriers to community members who may not have resumes or fluency in CV norms, as well as applicants without previous lab experience. Since we only looked at resumes if the cover letter spoke to CLEAR values, resumes were secondary to our process anyhow. 
  • Instead of CVs, we ask applicants to answer three questions:
    1. How has where you are from influenced your practices or priorities around research and collaboration?
    2. Why do you want to work with the CLEAR collective?
    3. What do you think are the most important principles or values in research? How have you or will you bring these into your work?
  • We send all interview questions to applicants well ahead of the interview and share our lab book. 
  • We post salaries in all job ads. 
  • All applicants go through us, rather than HR, for short-listing.
  • We’re looking into paying people for their time interviewing with us, regardless of whether they get the position. We know that preparing applications and prepping for interviews takes considerable labour. 
  • Soon we will have an “interview kit” on our website for potential applicants that has a short video that introduces CLEAR, talks about our hiring process, and has examples of cover letters, CVs, and stories from current lab members about their interview process. 

Our reading list on the politics, histories, practices, and theories of CVs and resumes

Bowker, Geoffrey C., and Susan Leigh Star. 2000. Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences. MIT Press.

CH, Veronika. 2019. “CV of Failures vs Shadow CV.” Dr Veronika CH. Retrieved April 6, 2022 (https://veronikach.com/phd-advice/cv-of-failures-vs-shadow-cv/).

Chan, Janet, Fleur Johns, and Lyria Bennett Moses. 2018. Academics Metrics and Positioning Strategies. SSRN Scholarly Paper. 3742547. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.

Hamann, Julian, and Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner. 2022. “Biographical Representation, from Narrative to List: The Evolution of Curricula Vitae in the Humanities, 1950 to 2010.” Research Evaluation rvab040. doi: 10.1093/reseval/rvab040.

Holdsworth, Clare. 2020. “A Manifesto for Failure: Depersonalising, Collectivising and Embracing Failure in Research Funding.” Emotion, Space and Society 37:100744. doi: 10.1016/j.emospa.2020.100744.

Kang, Sonia K., Katherine A. DeCelles, András Tilcsik, and Sora Jun. 2016. “Whitened Résumés: Race and Self-Presentation in the Labor Market.” Administrative Science Quarterly 61(3):469–502. doi: 10.1177/0001839216639577.

Lipton, Briony. 2021. “Ways to Write an Academic Life: Queering the Academic Curriculum Vitae.” Management Learning 13505076211051200. doi: 10.1177/13505076211051201.

Looser. 2015. “Me and My Shadow CV.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved April 6, 2022 (https://www.chronicle.com/article/me-and-my-shadow-cv/).

Macfarlane, Bruce. 2020. “The CV as a Symbol of the Changing Nature of Academic Life: Performativity, Prestige and Self-Presentation.” Studies in Higher Education 45(4):796–807. doi: 10.1080/03075079.2018.1554638.

Popken, Randall. 1999. “The Pedagogical Dissemination of a Genre: The Resume in American Business Discourse Textbooks, 1914-1939.” JAC 19(1):91–116.

Popken, Randall L., and Douglas M. Conklin. 1993. “A Study of the Résumé as Discourse.” Issues in Writing 5(2):135.

Strinzel, Michaela, Josh Brown, Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner, Sarah de Rijcke, and Michael Hill. 2021. “Ten Ways to Improve Academic CVs for Fairer Research Assessment.” Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 8(1):1–4. doi: 10.1057/s41599-021-00929-0.

Strunz, Stephan. 2020. “Organizing Careers for Work–The Curriculum Vitae (CV) in Prussia’s Technical Bureaucracy, c. 1770-1830.” Management & Organizational History 15(4):315–37.