Your CV is a marketing tool, one designed to sell your skills, knowledge and experience on many levels and as such it needs to be written and tailored to reflect where you are currently in life. Writing an academic CV is different to penning a job hunting CV. If you are currently studying or planning to return to it, a good academic CV will give you the same advantages as a job hunters CV, meaning that your talents, skills and achievements can be highlighted to elevate you above your competitors but the emphasis will stress different areas of your life.
A CV is organic – it needs to grow with you and if you are throwing your hat into the competitive academic arena or you are already in there, then it needs to function on many levels. Add new information as it happens; contemporaneous information is more accurate and you are not relying on your memory to add pertinent details and dates. Your academic CV is important as not only does it have to pull you through applications for study at different levels, but also needs to target funding applications, be versatile enough to showcase your work when you are looking to get it published or applying for a teaching role.
Like a traditional job CV, it needs to be kept as short as possible (however, ignore the workplace CV rules which stipulate it must be no longer than 2 pages, as you will have allowances for briefs of papers written and publications etc), with all detail not relevant to the position you are applying for removed. This is your chance to focus the mind of the employer or university on what you have achieved so keep it to the point.
Generally, most academic CV’s can be broken down into sections, (but are not limited to). These are:
– Research and publication
– Education, courses and conferences
– Administration and teaching
– Other information
There is no particular order in which these sections should be included. They are interchangeable as so to emphasise the section which is most relevant, depending on what you are applying for. Of course, your CV need not be limited purely to these sections and as per a standard job CV; you may include a short, personal statement, personal information and references. Read on for more tips how to make your academic CV shine above the rest…
This section of your CV is very important, perhaps the most important, part of it. It needs to reflect the research you have undertaken (along with any funding you secured to enable you to undertake the research) and any publications/papers you have written. It is worth including anything you are currently working on which should be marked as ‘forthcoming’ or ‘in progress’. That said, make sure that you do not have work ‘in progress’ hanging around on you CV for too many years, and update it as soon as the work is completed.
In the highly competitive research market, prospective employers or universities like to see that you are a go getter with an appetite for work, especially if there is funding at stake. You must be able to demonstrate that you want your work to be well received and published. Your previous research should reflect this, where applicable, and always make sure that you credit funding where it has been received, stating who it came from, the project title and the period it covered.
Education, Courses and Conferences
List all your qualifications in reverse chronological order, showing your most recent first. Once you have your degree and subsequent postgraduate qualifications under your belt, remember that it is not strictly relevant to list your secondary education; however, if you wish to include it, then keep it short. The names of the institutes you studied at need to be listed, as well as any current institute you are at.
A brief list of conferences and courses you have given or spoken at should be included under a separate heading should it be relevant, along with the date it was given.
Teaching and administration
Once graduated, this is the time many people embarking on an academic career turn their attention to teaching. This section of your CV is important but could easily take over unless you keep it under control. Keep the facts short and to the point by listing, most recent first, the title of the course, the institution it was taught at, the level you taught at and your general duties, for example, ‘set and marked projects’. Remember to highlight any management responsibilities you also had as well as any teaching qualifications you have attained along the way.
In addition, do not underestimate the importance of bringing your administration skills to the fore. Administrative duties such as exam invigilation or student-staff committees showcase your organisational, communication and time management skills and show that you are prepared to put in the ‘donkey work’ to attain your goals.
On an academic CV, it is worth bearing in mind that other information about your achievements is relevant but research, teaching and your qualifications should take precedent within the valuable pages of your CV. Other information you may want to include is a to-the-point personal statement, relevant work experience, technical skills (such as databases you are conversant with), professional memberships and the all important references. Do not skimp on these sections if you deem them important enough to include, but be judicious with your words allowing the more relevant sections to shine through.