There is a craft to producing a good CV. And an exacting one
to producing a good academic CV. I say
this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, an application for any academic role
will require you to produce several
documents outlining your academic and teaching competence. And, secondly,
because every vacancy will attract a
large number of candidates. So you will need to put the same level of care into
your CV and accompanying documents as you would any of your other research
publications. Hopefully his will not only reward you in your job search, but
can also assist you to plan and build your academic career for the future.
In the first of our researchers’ masterclasses in Bedford
Square, I worked with a group of technē
students on the nuts and bolts of academic applications. The participants had a
number of key questions:
I’ve had a number of
rejections for interview, or haven’t heard back. What could I doing wrong?
Experience tells me that either you didn’t tailor your
documents sufficiently well, you hoped for the best with your presentation, or
you didn’t sufficiently meet the recruitment criteria. Follow this 3-step process:
Make sure you compile a meticulous checklist of what
the job description and person specification is asking for. This a good time to
get out the highlighter pens;
Make a table of the evidence (i.e. from your
combined education and experience) that you meet each of the requirements under
1). Really do this. List it all out and don’t ignore anything or assume that
something isn’t important.
2a) (OK, not quite 3 steps).
Pause here and take a reality check. If there is little correlation between 1)
and 2) i.e. the requirements and your evidence, you are unlikely to be
successful for this job and I suggest you don’t spend more time or emotional
energy on this application. If you’re sceptical about this, book a one-to-one
appointment with one of us careers consultants, or show your PhD supervisor for
a second opinion.
Given that you passed the reality check and have
most of the requirements, now spend time structuring your evidence into the
As well as your CV, you may be asked to provide a research
statement or proposal, a teaching statement and a cover letter or personal
statement. Take some time roughing out which of your ‘evidence’ fits into which
document and make sure that, across the whole application, you have covered all
the requirements on your checklist. Tick them off one by one.
I feel confident with
the application system in my home country. But how do I tailor my CV for the UK
academic job market?
This is the ideal time to find an academic mentor in your
department/field. The best person would be someone who has just successfully
been through a ‘tenure track’ application process themselves. Or someone who
regularly serves on academic selection panels. They know the ‘form’ for your
discipline and field in the UK and their advice is priceless. Take them out for
the best coffee you can find.
Also have a look at the excellent resources and sample CVs
at vitae.ac.uk and jobs.ac.uk.
I’ve just started my PhD.
Is it worth bothering with my CV yet?
Yes, it’s definitely worth putting your academic experience
together in one place, even if it only spreads to a single page at present.
This then becomes your ‘working document’ to add to as and when you gather more
research experience e.g. giving a paper, attending a conference, have a paper
published or receiving a grant. The advice given by Karen Kelsky, sage of The Professor Is In, is that you should
aim to add a line to your CV every month.
I have a great deal of
earlier and varied career experience. How should I handle this on my academic
Always be guided by how relevant the experience is for this
specific job application. Much of your earlier work will be, at least
partially, relevant. For example, if you are a studio artist now researching
some aspect of your art, then the earlier experience is key. If you had a
portfolio career which involved ‘good enough’ jobs which helped you pay the
bills, then it isn’t necessary to add these. But, if not adding these sort of
jobs leaves a huge chronological gap, then I would put dates to and from and add
a brief summary of the work, including a phrase such as ‘to support me whilst I
progressed in my studio work’. The same would be true if you took time out for
caring responsibilities. Don’t apologise nor spend an undue amount of space on
it and all should be well.
How do I know which
documents I need to provide and how long they should be?
Always refer to the job description and person specification
for the vacancy. They will generally spell out exactly what is wanted. If they
don’t, it is worth talking to your PhD supervisor or newly-befriended academic
mentor. As a general rule of thumb, I would allocate the following: CV (up to 5
pages. Yes, this is much longer than the 2 pages you would allocate to a
general CV), research statement (2 pages), research proposal (4 pages),
teaching statement (2 pages) and cover letter/personal statement (2 pages).
Will my academic CV do
for other types of jobs?
No! You will need to make a different version which is 2
pages long. This won’t have a research summary nor full list of publications,
conferences, teaching and grants obtained. Many of these (summarised) elements
will be included in your more general CV, but the emphasis is likely to be much
more on the skills you have developed through your various academic activities.
students are welcome to book a one-to-one Skype, phone or in-person appointment
with careers consultants Jay or Kathy to work through a CV and other application
contact firstname.lastname@example.org call on 0207