# Job Skills Is using latex to write a CV is a good idea?

1. Dec 8, 2016

### Phylosopher

Hello,

I know how to use latex, and some how I want to write that in my CV, but its really unprofessional to do that! so I am thinking of writing my CV and my personal statement instead with latex, and so if someone is interested in such a skill (Which isn't that much of a thing) he will notice it!

Is that a good or a bad Idea? I am writing my CV for an internship.

2. Dec 8, 2016

### phyzguy

I use latex to write my CV, but how do you expect that to show in the finished output? After you have generated the finished output (pdf or whatever) how would the recipient know that you used latex?

3. Dec 8, 2016

### robphy

Default font selection? Default layouts for headers and sections?
(I just saw a CV written in LaTeX (or maybe TeX)... printed out to 101 pages.)

4. Dec 8, 2016

### Choppy

I don't think anyone will really care all that much how you generate the CV unless they expect to see it in a specific template form.

And if something is relevant to the position, i.e. the ability to write using LaTex, it's not at all unprofessional to have this on your CV.

5. Dec 8, 2016

### CrysPhys

Except for very small companies, CVs/resumes are submitted to HR (not to scientists/engineers), usually via electronic upload these days. Typically they specify PDF or Word format, so if you upload a LaTex file, it likely will be gibberish to HR, and they will simply trash it. On your CV, there typically will be a field for software packages (e.g., Office, AutoCad, MatLab ...) that you are adept with. So include LaTex there. I don't understand why you consider that unprofessional.

6. Dec 8, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

I don't think @Phylosopher was thinking of giving the source file, but rather a PDF created using LaTeX.

7. Dec 8, 2016

### CrysPhys

Then how would the recipient know that the CV was created with LaTex and be impressed with the applicant's LaTex skills? I think putting in a footnote, "This CV was composed with LaTex and outputted to PDF." would appear amateurish.

8. Dec 8, 2016

### Dr. Courtney

It's not too hard to recognize documents done in LaTex for those who have seen lots of them.

A couple years ago, I insisted my daughter write her paper in LaTex that accompanied her Math project at ISEF.

The judges could tell. She struck up a relationship with one of the judges (Math faculty at Pitt) who helped her correct some of the math in the paper. He ended up mentioning the LaTex paper in the letter of recommendation he wrote for her.

I had my CV in LaTex for several years out of grad school. I used it for everything. Eventually, the corporate culture of document sharing and a couple new computers weaned me off of LaTex. Now my CV is too long for that.

I do most papers and documents in LibreOffice these days, so I can share with co-authors and colleagues who use Word and various clones. Sadly, I only use LaTex for journals that require it and/or with co-authors who have it installed and know how to use it.

9. Dec 9, 2016

### Ssnow

Hi, I have CV in LaTex. In the web there are beautiful templates with LaTex but remember that the use of it depends by circumstances ... for example in Europe sometimes they specify in the interview that a special model is request, this is the case of the Europass model (it is graphically unsightly but necessary) ...

Ssnow

10. Dec 9, 2016

### Phylosopher

Thanks all for your informative replies.

So for the Case of Europe, unless they mentioned a specific model for the C.V I am free to use what I feel more suitable.

11. Dec 9, 2016

### CrysPhys

Yeah, but I assume your daughter's paper was loaded with blocks of formatted equations and tables? We're talking about a CV, which wouldn't (or shouldn't) contain all that. Just for kicks, I looked up LaTex CV templates on Google. I didn't see anything that couldn't have been composed on Word.

But, assume for the sake of argument, there are visual clues to an experienced LaTex user that the applicant composed his CV with LaTex. Are subliminal hints supposed to be more effective at impressing the reader than simply stating proficiency with LaTex on the CV? I think the audience for which that strategy would be effective is awfully small.

12. Dec 9, 2016

### Dr. Courtney

Sure, the audience is very small, but I was betting it included the math judges at ISEF. After one completes an advanced degree, I don't see much advantage in listing or demonstrating LaTeX skills any more or listing it on a CV. I also don't see an advantage to listing proficiency with spreadsheets, presentation programs, or word processors at this level. But for high school and recent college grads (BS level), employers are interested in practical skills that set candidates apart. Learning LaTeX demonstrates that a student or recent grad has done some things that will set that job candidate apart.

But for advanced degrees, knowledge of typesetting software will impress few. It's assumed that most folks with advanced degrees became proficient in a bunch of technical software along the way and can pick up simpler stuff (like LaTeX) very quickly. Odds are, employers would be more interested in a candidates experience and abilities with more advanced technical packages much more essential to day to day work than LaTeX.

Humans are funny though. We often key in on certain things we observe and our biases often ascribe more positive or negative connotations to things. I think most math and physics folks who have used LaTeX a lot are more likely to view authors and documents favorably that are produced in LaTeX. But it's more like wearing the right tie to a job interview, and stating LaTeX as a skill in a MS Word CV is not the same.

As a side note, I was surprised recently when mentoring an 8th grader in a science project that the student had never used a spreadsheet. An older student helped him download LibreOffice, and we got him up to speed quickly using a spreadsheet to quickly accomplish his data analysis functions. By the end of the first day, he had 26 tabs open and had mastered stuff like average, stdev, count, sqrt, min, and max for analyzing his data. Fitting to a power law was a bit of a stretch for him, just starting algebra. This is now a skill that will have him ahead of his peers for a while, but likely not any more after he completes his BS and has worked for a few years.

13. Dec 9, 2016

### Phylosopher

Interesting. I'm still an undergraduate (BS), do you think in your opinion that I have to mention latex in the CV and write my CV using it, or just write my CV using it?

14. Dec 9, 2016

### Dr. Courtney

I'm a believer in understatement. Write your CV using it and anyone who cares will notice. If you mention it explicitly, I would do so in a computer skills section, something like:

Computer skills: Spreadsheet, presentation, Gnuplot, SciDavis, LaTeX, MATLAB, FORTRAN, etc.

If you've done a lot of work in a programming language, you could break that out in more detail and describe the project, but that would be a bit overstated for LaTeX.

15. Dec 12, 2016

### bigfooted

I got a CV from a student a couple of weeks ago who wrote that he was proficient in $\LaTeX$. At least writing it like that makes it immediately clear that he is not lying... the student will start his thesis project with us next month...

By the way, I work for a large company and my group rarely involves HR in the recruiting stage, certainly not for student work. I usually contact professors directly, asking them if they know a good student, and I send them a small description of the project. Sometimes they contact me if they have a student. So in my group the CVs are always read by people who know what 'thermodynamics' means. And I don't care if you have a perfect score on thermodynamics or are a latex guru if you can't spell check your CV.

16. Feb 4, 2017

### jeffbarrington

I'm not getting at you, but I really want to get into the mind of an employer, and this is interesting - you would put ability to spellcheck above competence at the job? It's true that employers behave like this? Obviously spellcheck is incredibly easy to do, and you've got to sort the wheat from the chaff somehow, but still. I've only been interviewed for university before and was explicitly told they didn't really care about our personal statements, only the ability I have to do the course. Sorry for reviving an old thread but I am genuinely curious and would like to know more about your thoughts on this.

17. Feb 4, 2017

### bigfooted

Your possible career path depends on how impressed I am by a two page document written by you. If there are mistakes in your CV, I see this as a sign of sloppiness. And if you are sloppy with your CV (the most important two-page document you will ever write!), are you sloppy in your work as well? If you don't take the time to correct errors in your CV, will you take the time to correct errors in a measurement setup, a computational model, a matlab program?

But of course I will not reject a candidate based solely on a spelling mistake in his CV. With this harsh overstatement I want to emphasize that making a good impression and getting hired depends on more than good grades or showing latex skills. It's the sum of all the positive and negative qualities that you show during your first contact, and how this compares to other candidates. I personally find errors in a CV a red flag (I am not talking about subtle errors because the candidate is not a native speaker), but if you can convince me that this is not the sign of something more serious you'll still get the job. If we discarded all letters with (spelling) errors, we are usually left with 0 candidates.

18. Feb 5, 2017

### jeffbarrington

Thank you very much for your reply; I can certainly see what you mean, and to be honest the most capable people I know would frown upon spelling or grammatical errors, so it is certainly a good indicator (especially for someone applying for a programming role as you point out).