Someone holding a printed CV in their hands

May 14, 2024, by brzms6

CV crafting chronicles

By Chloe O’Dowd, Philosophy PhD student.

Creating and perfecting a CV as a postgraduate researcher can be quite difficult, especially when you need multiple versions for different contexts. As a PhD student, I wanted to discuss some ways in which I keep my CV date and appropriate for the different scenarios which I may need it.

Creating a CV

As a PhD student, you may not have had the opportunity, or the need, to sit down and write a CV. It is, however, vitally important to have one, even just a basic one, that can be used and distributed if the need arises.

To make a positive start, the Careers and Employability Service has a webpage with a lot of advice on CVs. This is a useful starting point, as it gives advice on the formatting, what is important to include on a CV, how to make your CV stand out, and more.

Even if you have not had much experience in jobs, in the case that you have been non-stop studying for a while like my peers and I, you will find that there are many skills that you can demonstrate.

What is difficult about writing a CV as a PhD student?

I’ve found that it can be difficult as you will most likely need two separate CVs. This is because you will have a more general one and an academic CV, and they both have different conventions.

What are the differences?

To begin with, for a general CV, it is recommended to keep it at two sides of A4 (this is a generalisation, and certain roles may require longer or shorter CVs). Contrarily, an academic CV is as long as it needs to be, as it showcases your various academic achievements, from talks given, publications, topics taught, and degrees achieved. It is more acceptable as you progress through an academic career that your academic CV can grow to a huge length.

Additionally, a more general CV must showcase broad skills as it can be used to apply for a wide range of jobs. This means that you must draw out the skills you have gained from past experiences, rather than simply listing the things that you have done.

For an academic CV, you will most likely only be using it to apply for roles in academia. This means that having relevant experience already demonstrates certain skills so a more list-like format would be acceptable.

The Careers team’s postgraduate researcher website has specific advice on developing a CV for academic jobs and for jobs outside academia.

How to keep them up to date

In terms of maintaining both CVs, there are multiple methods one can use. Personally, I check them both over once a month to make sure all of the information is current and relevant. I add any training or achievements that have occurred in the past month. This stops me needing to spend a long time updating my CVs when I want to apply for a job, and I can focus on the other aspects of an application.

When doing a PhD, you may be undecided about your future career. It may be an academic one or you may wish to change directions. This means that it is a good idea to have both kinds of CV up-to-date and of good quality.

If you’re a postgraduate researcher looking for someone to check your CV, book an appointment today and get tailored advice.

Posted in CVs and Cover LettersPhD Students