Applying for a job is competitive business, especially within the academic arena. Your CV is often the first interaction you have with a potential employer and for this reason it’s essential you make a great first impression. Although you might be tempted to create a ‘catch all’ CV covering your full education and work history and use this for all your applications, taking the time and effort to craft your CV around every role you’re applying for will bring much more success. Read on for my top 5 tips on creating an academic CV that will help make your application stand out from the crowd!
1) Create a checklist
Before you even begin to write or edit your CV it’s a good idea to create a checklist detailing the main criteria required for the role you’re applying for. This may include the qualifications, personal attributes and technical skills needed. Highlight relevant information from the job description and keep this information visible when creating your CV – this will guide the information you choose to include on your CV and ensure you stay on track.
2) Collate your evidence
The next step involves taking each of the main criteria highlighted in step one and thinking of your best examples that demonstrate you have the required skill/qualification. Some will be easier than others, for example if the role requires you to have a PhD in Microbiology then you want to make sure this is clearly evident on your CV and include relevant details. If the role also requires the ability to teach others then you want to consider a time when you did this successfully and include brief details of how you added value.
3) Decide the layout
Once you have listed the main criteria for the role and drafted details of how you meet these, you can then consider the best layout to use. You may choose to have a look at some of the many academic CV templates available online (such as this one from www.jobs.ac.uk), however I suggest you personalise the layout of your CV to ensure your most relevant information and key achievements are prioritised. This will be guided by the role requirements, for example a CV for a position with a heavy focus on research will be tailored differently to a position with a larger amount of teaching time.
4) Write the content
Now you have your layout decided it’s time to write the content. Whether detailing your qualifications, skills or research experience you want to keep your focus on the job you’re applying for. Take the information you gathered from step two and write short, concise sentences under relevant headings to demonstrate to the employer that you meet the role requirements. A good tip is to think from the employer’s point of view – if you were reading your CV, is every sentence relevant? Does each section add value? Would you invite yourself for an interview?
5) Include a cover letter
Unless otherwise stated, you should always include a cover letter with your CV. Whether applying for an advertised position or writing a speculative application, a cover letter is a great tool to further demonstrate your motivation for the position and enthusiasm for the organisation. If you’re applying for an academic position this may include why you’re passionate to apply to that specific university, department or research group. Include a second paragraph to briefly detail how you’re an ideal candidate – this should impress the reader and encourage them to read your CV for further information. For further details on putting together a cover letter see this article from www.jobs.ac.uk.
Next time you are applying for a job, apply the tips from above to ensure you create an effective CV that stands out for all the right reasons!