Spring Clean Your CV For Job Hunt Success

Spring Clean Your Cv For Job Hunt Success

Just like spring cleaning your home highlights how much junk you’ve accumulated, so does spring cleaning your CV. If you haven’t updated it in a while, it could be full of inaccurate, out of date and even unhelpful information.

Whether you made some edits a few months ago, or haven’t looked at it for years, it’s time to tidy up the old CV and make it ready for new job applications!

Reformat and reorganise

Your CV could be the most detailed and impressive in the world, but if it’s cluttered and hard to read, you’ll struggle to get to the interview stage. Clarity is just as important as content.

Break your CV up into clear sections. You’ll make the most of your experience and make the best use of space.

  1. Professional profile. Introduce yourself as a candidate by summarising your experience, seniority, institutions you’ve worked at and the most important tasks in your current role (e.g. curriculum management, course leadership, assessment.)
  2. Core skills. Bullet point your most relevant skills. In academia, this can include the education level you teach, any experience with assessment and marking and how you support different students.
  3. Teaching experience. Your current and previous teaching roles from most to least recent. Outline the role, then list your main responsibilities and any big achievements.
  4. Research experience. Summarise any research you’ve assisted with or led.
  5. Education and qualifications. Pretty self-explanatory! Make sure you mention your PhD thesis title and specialisms.
  6. Publications. List any articles or research publications or journals you’ve contributed to or edited. If the list is long, use your CV to mention the most recent or the most relevant.

Add any new skills or career highlights

You’re constantly developing your professional and academic experience, even if you’ve been in the same role for years.

Make a quick list of things you’ve completed and achieved since you last updated your CV. This could include public speaking, guest lecturing, pro bono work, mentoring or research. It all helps to build a picture of you as a candidate and sell your individual experience to your next employer.

Use active, positive language

The tone of voice you use on your CV is a big part of winning over employers. Put yourself at the centre of the sentence by using active language, like ‘Delivering weekly lectures and providing student support instead of ‘Weekly lectures delivered and student support provided’.

The active voice shows what your responsibilities are and what you’ve delivered, while passive sentences are too general and non-specific. This is about your experience, not your department’s. Make it clear what value you’ve added and what effect it had.

Identify your missing skills and experience

Spring cleaning your home sometimes reveals what you haven’t got, as well as what you need to get rid of. As you edit your CV, think about the roles you’d like to apply for and spot the gaps in your experience and skills.

It could be that you need to demonstrate management and leadership experience, supervise some new research in an underdeveloped area or submit to more prestigious journals. Identifying what your CV is lacking will help you equip yourself for a new, exciting role in the future.

Academic CV spring cleaning essentials

Academic teaching and research roles are very competitive, so your CV needs to meet all the important criteria and stand out from the rest.

Recruiters expect to see more than just teaching skills, they’re also looking for experience of securing research funding, publications and administration skills. Most of all, they’re looking for enthusiasm for your discipline and constant engagement. Demonstrate that and you’ll be much closer to landing the interviews you really want.

Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV 

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