Tips for Writing an Academic CV
(Photograph: Gary Roebuck /Alamy)
You will need a nice, tailored CV if you want to apply for an academic job. An academic CV can be a bit longer than the ordinary CV for non-academic post: 2 to 4 sides of A4 papers are acceptable. Typically, an academic CV consists of these sections: personal details, education background, professional development, a research statement, a teaching statement/experience, publications and conferences, and professional association or certain important membership.
The first thing you need to notice is to design the layout of your pages and never leave big blank. Make all pages look full. If you leave a page half empty, your CV actually looks like a submitted exam paper with many questions unanswered. Never split a section across pages, since the recruiter is likely to skip right away to the next section headline when he or she turns to a new page.
Before you start writing the CV, the ultimate rule to keep in mind is: Most important information goes first.
Start with your name rather than the phrase "Curriculum Vitae" or "CV" at the top of the first page. After your name, there ought to follow your contact information such as your address, email, phone number, etc.
Then list your degrees and qualifications in reverse chronological order. That is, put your latest achieved degree before older ones. Remember: only a bachelor's or above should be included here. An academic job has great demands of higher education qualifications and no recruiter will ever be interested in your high school grades.
For the section of professional development or working experience, only list the ACADEMIC ones. Previous administrative experience will help—only when you worked in an institute or academic association. Emphasize the skills you have that are wanted in the recruiting advertisement of the job.
When it comes to the research statement and teaching statement, a common question for most job applicants is which one to put first. The answer is quite simple: if you are applying for a teaching position, put your teaching experience first, and vice versa. In the research statement, funding record is also an important factor, because this shows your ability to bring money to the research. If you have quantities of works to show off, just leave them in an appendix of publication. Don’t leave a website address for recruiters to visit—they won't spare time to do so. In the teaching statement, list the course you taught, name of the institute and other crucial details that are related to the job requirements. One point to note is to write the full name of the course instead of a course code comprising only numbers and several letters which is referred to in your previous institute. Here it comes to another point: use the expressions that everyone can understand, not the ones only familiar among your previous network.
List your published articles, reviews, chapters, books and other materials in an appendix. If there are more than one author for an issue, highlight your name in bold among the authors. Keep the style of your bibliography and reference consistent! Such is a basic requirement for a professional scholar. If you are a member of a highly reputed professional association, add the information in your CV as well.
Moreover, you need to have three referees in academic fields who have worked with you.
Do not include anything non-academic about your personal life, such as your gender, age, army service, hobbies and family.
After you finish with a draft, revise it to make it more concise and clear. Use the academic words of your field when suitable. Don't forget to put page numbers on each page so as to make your CV look more rational. Pay attention not to use too much bold and italics—too much emphasis means "none is special".
Print the pages out to make the final check. Layout or word problems may not be apparent on a computer screen, but they will soon be discovered once printed on paper. Ask a friend who is not very familiar with your academic experience to read your CV, and see if he or she could scan the whole stuff in no more than one and a half seconds. If the answer is no, you need to further refine the contents.
The advice from Steve Joy, an academic careers adviser at the University of Cambridge, can be quoted as a round end for this article:
"Don’t go on about the achievements you're most proud of. Prioritize the ones that are most relevant to your intended employer most."
If you are struggling with CV writing, try an online one-to-one CV workshop with an Acadsoc tutor!