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Graduate students, make your academic CV stand out with these tips

SOURCE: Tolga AKMEN/AFP
If you've never written an academic CV before, these tips will come in handy.


By U2B Staff 

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What are the hallmarks of a good academic CV? They should showcase your academic credentials, skills, achievements, research activities, awarded funding, and publications in an organised and easy-to-read manner; the last three features make it slightly different from a traditional CV.

Academic CVs are more detailed and thus, longer than a resume.

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Generally, you’ll need an academic CV if you are looking for an academic or research position, or non-academic positions in science, higher education, research, and healthcare, or if you are seeking a fellowship or grant for positions abroad. 

CV conventions differ between countries, as explained by TopCV: “When it comes to CVs, there’s no universal template. Depending on the country in which you’re applying for jobs, there may be differing standards for what to include on your CV and what should be left out.” 

This makes it essential to understand the CV conventions in the country in which you are applying for jobs.

Structuring your academic CV

Elsevier notes the following tips when structuring your CV:

  • Start with the main headings and sub-headings you will use
  • In general, you can start by providing some brief personal details (eg. name, address, phone number(s) and professional email), followed by a brief career summary
  • Tailor your first section of your CV to focus on your education (starting from your most recent academic degree obtained), publications and research
  • Highlight funding, awards, and prizes, teaching roles, administrative experience, technical and professional skills and qualifications, professional affiliations or memberships, conference and seminar attendances, and a list of references

Tips on writing your academic CV

UK organisation Vitae, which champions the personal, professional, and career development of doctoral researchers and research staff in higher education institutions and research institutes, notes that it is important for candidates to tailor their academic CV for every application. 

“Analyse the job description and specification, if available. Your CV needs to present strong evidence that you fulfill the job requirements,” they said. It’s also essential to highlight your academic achievements and research interests. 

“Find out as much as you can about the research area you are applying to, so you understand how your expertise complements theirs and can judge their familiarity with [the] technical language of your research area.”

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Minimise jargon, write with clarity, and spell out your qualifications, research, publications, and any other relevant information. You will also need to describe your contribution to publications, especially high impact publications. 

When listing your publications, use a reverse-chronological list, and can best be presented as an appendix.  Your research experience should also be in reverse chronological order, in addition to emphasising your specialist/technical expertise for the job. 

Consider including the details of two or three referees, typically at least two academics, in your CV.

Lastly, before you click ‘send’, you will want to ensure that your academic CV is free of grammatical errors, typos, and formatting issues (which can be easily resolved by saving your document as a PDF). 

You can easily do this by getting a trusted friend to look over your CV, or running it through language and grammar apps such as Grammarly. Good luck!