6 Strategies for Making Your Academic CV Shine 

authors header image

Explore Services for Academics

Whether you’ve been working for many years or you are fresh out of college, when it comes to finding a job, your CV will do most of the heavy lifting. In case you haven’t yet built up the work or academic experience to impress a potential employer, all you have is your CV. Most of the time, it goes in front of a decision-maker before you do, and if there is nothing in it that makes you stand out, it might get thrown into the reject pile before you even get a fair chance. When you consider how many competitors are vying for the same positions as you, you quickly realize how important it is to distinguish yourself from the crowd.

Luckily, you have never had more resources at your disposal to polish your CV or even write a great one from scratch. It takes some time, but there are several strategies you can employ to improve your CV and position yourself above your competitors, which can make all the difference in your career. Here are six ways to take your CV to the next level.

1. Use expert CV-building services

This can be a game-changer. Putting together a CV might seem easy on the surface—all you have to do is list your education, work experience, and accomplishments, right? Well, if it were truly that simple, there wouldn’t be nearly 743 million search engine results for “write a resume” (yes, really). Your CV is one of the most important career-related documents, and it’s essential for it to be in tip-top shape if you want to land your dream job.

Resume services can optimize your CV for computer systems, help you write an incredible cover letter (as well as a post-interview thank-you letter), rewrite and update your current CV, and so much more. You should always tailor your CV to the individual position you’re applying for because a generic CV will rarely land you a job, so purchasing a CV package that includes unlimited revisions is a wise investment. We offer precisely that, and we can even help you convert an academic CV to an industry CV. Check out our CV and resume services to see how we can assist you.

2. Revise your language

Your linguistic and stylistic choices matter when it comes to presenting yourself. With so many applicants competing for the same position, an employer must use all tools at their disposal to evaluate and rank the candidates, so you want to paint the best possible picture of yourself.

Use the past and present tenses in their respective places—the past tense for jobs that are behind you and the present tense for ongoing engagements. Eliminate personal pronouns wherever you can—they don’t sound professional in a CV. Use vibrant verbs to make your CV more compelling (e.g., “established,” “constructed,” “coordinated”) rather than bland and non-descriptive structures (“worked with,” “responsibilities included,” etc.). 

Make sure to include the right keywords to show that you meet the specific requirements outlined in the job posting. Using keywords from the job description not only tells the employer that you read the posting in full (many candidates don’t), but it also allows you to bypass the applicant tracking systems (ATSs) that most companies nowadays use to filter job applications. These programs scan CVs for relevant keywords, so failure to incorporate the right ones can throw you out of the race. If you have had numerous unrelated jobs, find the one skill or idea that ties them all together, and don’t be afraid to get creative. 

3. Don’t limit yourself to just one 

If you have a little more experience, it might be wise to create multiple CVs for different applications. Though some CVs are broad enough to be used for most applications with only minor tweaking, if you have substantial work experience in different sectors, it’s good to be more specific. Of course, you should submit a tailored CV for every position you apply for, but depending on your career history, crafting multiple base CVs upon which to build is a great idea. This is a solid option for someone who has worked as, say, both a software engineer and a computer science professor with a bit of research writing on the side. 

Creating multiple CVs lets you showcase your various accomplishments and highlight your skills. You can put together as many as you need—there is no limit! Not sure how to craft a more specific CV? Never written an industry- or academic-specific CV? Get help from our resume and CV experts!

4. Be thorough and use quantifiable statements 

Anyone can say they led a team through a challenging project. Get specific! Maybe you were in charge of 50 people tasked with tackling bugs in the software management system or led a team of 10 responsible for restructuring the HR department’s exit interview process. The more specific, the better—this is where you can demonstrate just how much value you can create for an employer. 

The same principle applies to your skills and professional objective, as well as your experience and education. Instead of saying you have “excellent communication skills,” try shaking it up by using examples. If you claim to be a “team player,” demonstrate why. Include numbers whenever possible, but be careful not to inadvertently reveal a former employer’s confidential information—stick to percentages rather than pure numbers. You can even write a short summary of what you learned from a past job, but remember that brevity is your friend. You want to pack as many valuable details as possible into a succinct couple of sentences.

5. Brag

Your CV is one place where you should not be humble. Remember: You are selling yourself here, along with all the accomplishments and achievements that you bring to the table, be it in an academic or an industry setting. If you don’t give the employer a reason to hire you, then they won’t—it is that simple. 

So, take some time to consider what makes you stand out. What projects you’ve been involved in make you especially proud? What problems you solved produced tangible results? Don’t go overboard—you certainly don’t want to come off as arrogant—but don’t be shy, either. You want to make it clear that you can take charge when a situation calls for it. 

Also, remember to include a link to your LinkedIn profile to boost your professional appeal. A presence on LinkedIn is practically a must for any job seeker today—if you don’t have a profile on this platform or would like to polish your existing one, we can do it for you as part of our CV services. Check out what else we offer for your CV.

6. Make sure your CV is polished and professional 

You want your CV to be an accurate reflection of everything you have achieved professionally thus far, so if it is riddled with spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors, hiring decision-makers might take that to mean you aren’t careful or detail-oriented enough and, therefore, you’re not the right person for the job. Harsh? Absolutely, but they are looking for the best candidate, so if your CV isn’t perfect, they will choose an equally qualified applicant with a pristine, error-free CV over you.

Print out a copy of your CV so you can go over it with a red pen, then ask a friend or advisor to check it for you and use professional proofreading services to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks. It’s difficult to proofread your own work because you already know what you want to say and can thus easily overlook errors, and while your friends can help, they are likely not professional proofreaders. For professional CV proofreading, get a quote here

Your CV should convince a potential employer that you are the right candidate for their vacant position, and our tips and tricks will hopefully put you on the right track to achieving that.  

Explore Services for Academics