Rapidly Improving Your CV For Academic Jobs

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Your curriculum vita (CV) is one of the most critical aspects to getting a good academic position. Unlike a resume for a non-academic position, a cv is often many pages. This is not to imply that it should be filled with lengthy descriptions of all of your high school and university-level triumphs. The document must be concise (but not necessarily brief). It should be organized in a stream-lined fashion and present only the most critical and/or impressive aspects of your experience and training. The following are some tips on how to do this and how to rapidly overcome known deficiencies.

1. Make sure your education is well-documented.

Your educational section should include the proper degree title, name and location of the institution name, and the year the degree was awarded. If there was a student ranking system and you were in the top 20%-25% of that system, you should include the relevant information. If the degree was awarded with distinction (or some other notation of excellence), you should include that, as well. Similarly, if your grades entitled you to membership in an honour society (e.g. Tau Beta Pi or the Dean’s list), those distinctions should be noted. If the position to which you are applying is related to the topic of you dissertation, you should included your dissertation title as part of the information provided for the degree. If your advisor is well known and is will to give you a good recommendation, you should consider including his or her name next to the thesis title as the “supervisor”.

2. Make sure your employment experience is well-documented.

In addition to your education, you need to document your employment history. Obviously teaching and research experience are the most likely activities undertaken during master’s and doctoral programmes, but most individuals have had a life before higher education. In some cases, the work may not be highly relevant to the position for which you are applying. If that is the case, include only your position, the employment dates, location, and employer’s name. Many employers like to see a history of employment, even if it is not closely related to the advertised position, as it demonstrates the ability to hold a job and the level of responsibility undertaken to date. Unpaid internships can also be included in this section, but you should be clear as to whether the position was full-time or only part-time and that it was an internship. Finally if you held a position of authority or in some supervisory capacity make sure to include those aspects of the position. For example, “Oversaw the scheduling of 12 part-time employees” or “Coordinated maintenance of 3 buildings housing 60 residents” or “Assisted in a sales team of 3 that grossed €500,000 annually”. Any time there is the opportunity to quantify a contribution, you should do so as it makes your contribution easier to visualize and more convincing. 

3. Ticking the teaching box.

Most academic positions include teaching duties. Thus, most employers are looking for individuals with teaching experience. For many doctoral students teaching is not an option during their degree, either due to the large amount of time required to teach a course or because their home department does not allow doctoral candidates to teach. If either is your case, ask your supervisor if you can deliver 1 or 2 lectures in one of his or her courses each term. Alternatively ,there maybe summer programmes for pre-university students that need instructors or even a religious organization may be seeking instructors for both Sunday school classes and adult education. Another possibility is that many universities have special courses to teach you how to teach (either semester-long or given intensively over a couple of days). Participating in one of these will help demonstrate your commitment to high quality teaching. Finally, if you have any relevant experience make sure to list all related courses that you have taught (or helped to teach) including the educational level of the students, the number of students enrolled, and the semester(s) or year(s) in which the teaching was done.

4. Professional licensing and involvement

Many professions require licensing. Even if you do not possess the required experience or credentials to obtain the license you should have a section on your cv showing the steps taken so far to acquire the necessary license. As part of this, you may need to undertake a certain number of professional training hours each year. If these are highly relevant to the position for which you are applying you should list them by title, date, and the organization that furnished them. Other ways to improve your cv is to join 2 or 3 professional organizations. If you are still a student, many professional societies give major student discounts that often last up to two years beyond your graduation. One of these organizations should have either a local or student chapter so that you can gain immediate professional contacts, as well.

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