How to write an academic CV

academic cv

Academic CVs differ from standard CVs in several ways.

Having a decent CV is a really important aspect of the job application process for any jobseeker.

However, different jobs often require a different approach from your CV. It’s standard recruiter advice for jobseekers to have several ‘versions’ of a CV tailored to several industries or multiple job descriptions.

For academic jobs, the process is even more complex. Applications for academic roles, such as research posts or teaching jobs, are notoriously tricky to complete but it’s important you have an academic CV that’s ‘up to the job’, so to speak.

Academic CVs differ from standard CVs in several ways, so this week, we’re giving you some tips to optimise your academic CV.

For academic jobs, applications typically include a CV, cover letter, sample teaching plans and, frequently, a teaching or a research statement. However, many recruiters admit the CV is the first – and often only – document they look over.

The CV provides a snapshot of your career progression to date and should convince the reader you’re able to perform well at the job you are applying for. Despite all this, many job applicants persist in submitting really mediocre CVs.

What needs to be included on my academic CV?

For most CVs ‘less is more’ is the rule of thumb; by this we mean a short, concise CV is preferable to a wordy document running to several pages.

However, for an academic CV the reverse is true. If your academic CV runs to four or five pages – that’s absolutely fine. Hopefully, it contains many examples of your academic expertise. Include any, or all, of the following if you think they will demonstrate your value to an employer:

  • Qualifications are a must! Ensure you list the most recent first to make the job easier for the person reading your CV. Because of the sheer volume of applications for any job recruiters spend very little time scanning CVs. As a minimum, include the qualification title, the grade awarded, the awarding institution, the year of award and the title of your research.
  • List any notable publications, putting the most prestigious first. If you have research in the publishing or reviewing stages, include it as well.
  • Did you receive any funding for research? List awards or prizes, providing details of the project and the name of the awarding body.
  • If you have teaching experience, make sure details of it are on the CV. Include the names of the institutions you taught at, course titles and the level of study taught. What were your duties in this position?
  • Provide contact details for two or more referees. They must be fellow academics who know you very well and are familiar with your work.

How should I format my academic CV?

  • Structure your CV consistently, and always chronologically, making sure all pages are numbered. Ensure the font is simple and the font size large enough to easily read. If your CV is highly readable, it will be more appealing to your reader.
  • Adopt a professional and unpretentious tone. Yes, you want to make your accomplishments clear, but allow your qualifications and experience to speak for you rather than coming over as a know-it-all. This is a huge turn-off for potential employers.
  • Check, then double check, your spelling and grammar. Believe it or not, many recruiters cite a poor command of the English language on applications for professional and academic jobs.
  • As you are likely to be submitting several pages of information, it is crucial to be succinct. Limit your use of jargon, and express yourself clearly.
  • Do not include course codes for modules you’ve studied or taught. These codes are used as internal reference points for universities only. Inclusion will just confuse your reader!
  • And finally, do not title your document ‘Curriculum Vitae’; you need only write your name. It is obvious to professional recruiters what the document is, so don’t insult their intelligence!

These tips won’t clinch you an academic job but they will help you make a great first impression with recruiters. The simple act of knowing when to submit an academic CV in place of a standardised one will be enough to impress many employers and will set you firmly among your peers at the top of the in-tray. As ever, good luck!

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