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3 Tips for Writing a Successful CV

By Higher Education Recruitment Consortium
January 10, 2017
An image of a typewriter with the words

Along with qualifying examinations and original research, career-seekers beginning or advancing careers in higher education will need a polished, persuasive curriculum vitae (commonly called a vita or CV). Unlike its briefer cousin, the resume, a CV is a comprehensive and exhaustive review of the credentials and qualifications of someone who has chosen to live their professional life in an academic position in a four-year or graduate educational institution. Where a resume is praised for brevity and concise language, a CV can be expansive and detailed. Here are some tips to ensure your CV is persuasive and complete without being loaded with fluff.


1. Detail Your Academic Life

The entire purpose of your vita is to demonstrate your qualifications and credentials for advancement. In higher education, a full curriculum vitae is used when applying to academic positions in four-year or graduate institutions. The full CV will include a detailed accounting of an applicant's academic life. Take advantage of the opportunity to describe your experiences instead of simply listing responsibilities. Sections to include will vary based on the discipline, so make sure you ask someone from your field to fill you in.

2. Tailor Your CV to Fit the Focus of the Institution

Instead of trying to create a “one size fits all” CV to plop in front of anyone with a job opening, craft your vita to attract the potential employer’s attention. If you are applying to a research-based university, move the Research section of your CV to the beginning. Applying to a school that places more importance on teaching? Move your Teaching Experience up front. Doing a little online research can help you accentuate experience that will appeal to your dream institution.

3. Focus on Formatting

Your CV should be developed with the same attention to detail used to write your dissertation. Mistakes in spelling, grammar, and usage reflect poorly on you. Don't let a typo cause your CV to move from the hiring desk to the garbage can. Make sure you have someone familiar with curriculum vitae development preview your work before pressing send. I know someone who for years did not get a callback for any academic positions, yet had stellar credentials. 

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