How to create an academic CV

This article is part of a Series
This article is part of a Series

What next? Career navigation advice for PhDs/postdocs

This series shares a host of resources, information, and tips to help you make more informed career choices after your PhD or postdoc. Through our posts in this series, you will know more about different career options available to researchers within and outside academia and develop the most essential skills necessary to start your job search. The highlight of this series is a live Q&A session with academic career coaches where you can interact with experienced PhD career counselors to seek career-related advice.

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How to create an academic CV

The academic job market is extremely competitive and you have to be prepared well ahead of time. The first and perhaps most crucial step towards getting started on your career path is having a good academic CV. Most often, your CV is the deciding factor for getting an interview call.

An academic CV is much more detailed than a resume: it contains a detailed description of your education, research and teaching experience, as well as your achievements and publications. Here are a few points that you should keep in mind when creating your CV.

Structure your CV well. A CV generally does not have any restrictions in terms of length; however, the trick is to structure it in such a way that the potential employer does not get bored or put-off while reading it. Thus, make sure that you include the most important information in the first page and make this page look extremely professional, with your name on top and clear contact details. Small details like a professional-sounding email address could matter a great deal. 

Organize the content of your CV into sections. Usually, an academic CV contains two major sections: research and teaching experience. The content in each section should be in reverse chronological order with the most recent update first.

Include the following in the research section:

  • A brief description of your PhD or postdoc
  • A description of your current and/or future area of research
  • Add your RA experience here
  • A list of your publications
  • Details of funding that you have received
  • Information about conferences you attended or participated in

Include the following in the teaching section:

  • The class/level at which you taught (undergraduate or postgraduate). You can include your TA experience here
  • Information about the kind of teaching involved (lectures, workshops, seminars)
  • Information about relevant non-teaching academic activities that you were involved in

Tailor your content according to the job specifications. You will need to customize your CV depending on the kind of experience that is most relevant to the requirements of the position you are applying for. For instance, if you are applying for a teaching role, make sure that the first page of your CV focuses on your teaching experience and not on your research. On the other hand, if you are applying for a research position, you should bring the research experience section forward and focus on it towards the beginning of your CV. 

Format your CV to ensure readability. Keeping margins on all four sides, typing in a clear legible font with consistent font size, and using single spaced text can sometimes make a lot of difference in the readability of your CV. Be careful about spelling and grammar, and use a consistent style for headings and subheadings, and avoid overuse of bold or italics. It is a good practice to use page numbers as academic CVs tend to be long.

Your CV should be clear, organized, and professional. The guiding principle behind your CV should be to make the reader’s job easy: he should be able to find what he is looking for easily and read it comfortably. 

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Published on: Apr 07, 2016

Senior Editor, Editage Insights. Researcher coach since 2015
See more from Kakoli Majumder


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