Crafting an effective academic CV
Whether you are preparing your CV for academic positions or transitioning to non-academic roles, consider the full range of your transferable skills, measurable results, and the details about the scope of your work that are not immediately apparent to your readers.
While intellectual processes and professional interactions are at the center of academic work, it does not mean that academics do not achieve specific, measurable results. How can we describe our accomplishments and scope of work in more specific, engaging terms?
1. Use the career summary section to your advantage.
Revise your career summary (your unique offer) for each target position, highlighting the experience and skills the potential employer wants to see.
A career summary can include:
- key initiatives or grants
- international work experience
- your leadership style description
- organizations you partnered with
- the number of years of experience
- key skills and types of research conducted
- other engagements with associations or professional groups you founded
Here is an example of a career summary:
DIRECTOR OF ONLINE LEARNING
Interactive Pedagogies | Program Development | Budget Management | Partner Relations
Enthusiastic educator, sought-after workshop facilitator, and award-winning online learning executive offering 15+ years of experience in higher education including team leadership, budget planning, technology upgrades, and online course development. Articulate practitioner of a service leadership style with a focus on innovative approaches to faculty development. An extensive list of conference workshops and presentations in New York universities.
2. Focus on specific accomplishments.
Instead of listing job duties (which are often self-evident), think about the specific value you delivered and the findings you made available for the students, fellow researchers, and the organization’s leadership.
Rephrase duties into accomplishments.
Describe the context of research, teaching, and/or administrative work in more specific terms.
- How large are your classes?
- Did you introduce any innovations to the curriculum?
- What do students say about their experience in your classes?
- What other professionals do you team up with regularly? What are the outcomes?
- How were you able to improve the administrative processes?
- Have you initiated any international or nationwide collaborations?
- Did you participate in any cross-departmental or cross-institutional projects?
- What research grants did you receive? What was their purpose or dollar value?
- Would you like to add any hyperlinks to your projects, portfolio, or publications available online?
Your career entries can include such measurable components as the number of employees supervised, the number of students enrolled, additional revenue delivered, improvements made to curriculum, technological advances introduced, and the outcomes of the programs you developed. Numbers lighten the cognitive load for the reader and illustrate the scope and impact of your work.
When listing achievements, describe why you were promoted, offered additional leadership duties, or recognized with an award.
In recognition of effective project management and ability to exceed financial goals, appointed Interim Manager of Online Education to interview candidates and onboard the new Manager.
Use sub-sections like Program Development or Team Leadership to break up longer bulleted lists and make key skills more visible.
3. Add employer descriptions.
Add one or two lines about the scope and distinguishing features of each employer on your CV.
The example below emphasizes NYIT’s international scope and degree offers. You can also use this space to highlight the similarities between your current and target employers that are not obvious to your reader.
Founded in 1955, New York Institute of Technology is a private research university with two campuses in New York and international campuses in UAE, China, and Canada. It offers degrees in 50+ fields of study.
Use each line on the CV in your favor to show how and why you are a match for the target position.
4. Add details about relevant volunteer, committee, board, or project experience.
Do you have significant experience that is briefly mentioned in your current CV or not mentioned at all?
Identify additional experience that is relevant to the target role and elaborate on several important points.
- Adding a hyperlink can help your readers learn more about your projects.
- Add several bullet points to clarify the participating audiences and the positive outcomes they benefit from.
- Testimonials are not required, but if you have one that strengthens your unique offer, it can fit under a description of a project or a volunteer role as well as below the career summary at the top of your resume.
5. Finalize the documents with your intended reader in mind.
As you finalize your application, consider its visual appeal, white space, and readability. Make sure your CV consists of full pages and the cover letter does not exceed one or two full pages. Proofread the documents from paper or as you see fit.
About the author:
Tanya Mykhaylychenko is a professional resume writer with a background in content writing, university teaching, and IT staffing. She is a member of Editors Canada and Career Professionals of Canada. For more information, please visit https://tm-editorial.com/about/.