What is an Academic CV?

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A good CV is vital when applying for academic jobs. An academic CV is different from more generic CVs. This article will explain what you need to include, what employers want to see and how they will use your CV.

What should I include?

Advice about generic CVs says they should not be more than 2 pages long. This is not true of academic CVs: a 4 or 5 page academic CV is fine.

These are the things you will need to include on an academic CV. Don’t necessarily put them in this order; you can change the order to prioritise different aspects of your work for different applications. 

  • Your name and contact details (you’d be surprised how often people forget these!)
  • Qualifications (most recent and most advanced first). Include information about where and when you got each qualification, your grade and, if appropriate, your supervisor’s name and the title of your dissertation/thesis.
  • Teaching experience. Include institutions and dates, titles of courses, level (e.g. first year, second year, postgraduate etc.) and a brief list of responsibilities for each (did you design the course, lecture or give seminars? Did you do any marking?)
  • Publications. Include most important and most prestigious first. Also include any items that are in press or under review.
  • Administration experience. List any roles or offices you have held within an academic department or related body such as intellectual associations, and any projects and initiatives that you have been involved with.
  • Research funding. Give details about awards or prices you have received, including the name of the awarding body, dates and the title of the project.
  • Always include the names and addresses of at least two referees. They should be academics who know you and your work very well.

What are academic employers looking for on your CV?

  • That you have relevant qualifications and skills for the job: make sure your CV illustrates that you match the criteria listed on the job description.
  • What you present on your CV should be an acceptable level of achievement for someone at your career stage. So, if you have taken significant amounts of time out of academia or have recently changed career into your field it is worth mentioning this.
  • Variety: employers want to know that you have a wide range of teaching experience.
  • Focus: show that you have been able to develop a central position for yourself within your field.
  • Publications: can you make a significant contribution to any future REF audits? A pedigree of successful funding applications is also important here.
  • Layout: make sure your CV is readable with no mistakes. The font should be simple, the point size large enough to read easily and the overall style should be professional and unfussy.

How do employers use a CV?

Unfortunately however long you spend preparing your CV, a selection panel might only spend a minute looking over your document because they have so many applications to sift through. That is why first impressions are so important.

The main use of your CV is to help the panel in deciding whether you have the right skills, knowledge and experience to be invited to interview.

But the panel will also use your CV as a basis to plan the questions to ask you at interview. So make sure you are really familiar with the contents of your CV, and most importantly, don’t lie! The interview panel will expose your lie by detailed questioning.

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