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Self-study and CV's

  1. Jan 10, 2013 #1
    This is a pretty short question. Is it meaningful to list what you have self-studied on your CV? This question was prompted by me glancing at my office mate's CV. He is a master's student applying to PhD programs. He listed that he studied his way through General Relativity and Algebraic Topology (classes he missed because of the rotation, but he nevertheless worked his way through the books).

    Anyway, is it a meaningful addition to a CV? Would a prospective school look on that positively, negatively, or apathetically? I'm not trying to poo-poo on his resume, I'm just curious.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 10, 2013 #2


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    hey wrldt and welcome to the forums.

    I wouldn't do it but if anybody did, I would be expecting the other people on the table to "call his bluff" to see if there is any substance in the claim.

    I'd imagine some employers would like that kind of thing while others would not.
  4. Jan 10, 2013 #3
    I had this impression as well. On my academic site I use to have a set of LaTeX'd notes and solved problems from a thermodynamics textbook (self studied). I've never mentioned it on a CV and have since abandoned the site.

    I've suggested to him that he should turn the notes and problems he did into PDFs so he can at least put them up on the web and he should link to them in his CV in case someone were to call his bluff.
  5. Jan 10, 2013 #4
    I don't think there's anything wrong with it, however I would refrain from putting it under "Education History" and instead list it under a different heading such as "Other Achievements".

    If you still aren't comfortable with that, leave it off your resume and instead talk about it in your cover letter, provided it is relevant to the job/course you are applying for. I would word it so that the emphasis is on the fact that you are motivated enough to take the initiative to learn the material on your own.
  6. Jan 10, 2013 #5


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    In case the person loses some knowledge later after posting these documents of his onto his website, after no longer keeping up with the study that lead to that knowledge, someone may still "call his bluff", and this will be discouraging. On the other hand, he's better set if he stays active with the study. I studied some BASIC programming for a few years on my own, and created several nice programs. Do I list this on my résumé? The only people who may have any knowledge of this work are only online acquaintances, whom never we met in person.
  7. Jan 11, 2013 #6
    Agree with above. Expect to be asked about anything on your CV. Whether self-taught or formal, job or hobbies, or what you did in gaps. If you can talk sensibly about it for a few mins with someone who has a bit of knowledge about it i.e. more than recite a Wikipedia first paragraph then you're fine.

    I used to do lots of 'martial arts' (ha ha) but haven't in about 7 years. I still list that I taught a class and put it under hobbies (if I think I can blag some 'skills' out of 'teaching' it, relevant to the job). If I get called on it, I can talk on it.

    And I'd definitely agree that you should sell the sizzle not the sausage - don't try to get an interview based on knocking up some basic stuff in Python; sell the fact that you have gotten off your butt and gone out and taught yourself something in your own time, for free, because you're curious ('so imagine what lengths I'd go to if it was for something I need, and get paid to do...').

    Lastly, an anecdote. I got offered an interview for a graduate computing job (with training I have to say) with an arts degree and this sort of relevant initiative regarding software. Never had a computing class in my life. In fact I got offered the job among a cohort of 20 pulled from hundreds. Most were tech grads. The HR guy who sifted the CVs said it was exactly that sort of initiative that they wanted for future leaders that prompted him to give me a chance. Previously, a recruiter rang me up to pretty much laugh at my application for the same job elsewhere: 'You teach yourself? You don't even go to a school to learn?'

    You win some, you lose some.
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