How to Elevate Your CV While Still in Grad School

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You’re nearing the finish line of your graduate program, and you’re ready to start preparing your CV for your transition into a career in academia or business. This is an exciting time, but it can also be scary. Unfortunately, writing a CV is not as simple as listing your work experience and education—in a saturated job market, being perfectly qualified is not enough. You may find yourself competing against hundreds of other candidates just as good as you, so it’s essential to make your CV the best it can be if you want to land your dream job. 

Here are some tips for giving your CV a boost as you transition from graduate school to academia or the business world.

  1. Take control of your supplementary items (and learn new skills in the process)

Obviously, a CV needs content. If you don’t currently have at least a few varied supplementary items in there, it is time to start adding some information that will help you stand out. Needless to say, you should possess the skills essential for your career, but it’s assumed that all applicants have the core skills a job demands. Therefore, you need something to give you an edge. Adding some extra items to your CV doesn’t have to be time-consuming, and you have many options. 

There are various ways to enhance your CV and distinguish yourself from competitors. For example, you can start a blog related to your research, take on a leadership position (maybe in student government or a student club), get an extra certification or two, or apply for awards and fellowships. Learn conversational Spanish, become a Photoshop whiz, or join a professional student organization. It never hurts to be well-rounded. These are just suggestions—get creative and find things you love to do that will also bolster your CV.

  1. Contact professional CV services
    At this stage in your life, a good CV is one of the most valuable and powerful tools in your repertoire. Without a long history of career successes, you will need to lean heavily on your CV to land the position you want. 

If you’re short on time or have never had to write a CV before, using a professional service could save you countless hours of hunching over your computer trying to craft the CV to end all CVs. Professional services don’t just plug your information into a template and call it a day—the process of writing a great CV is far more involved than that, and it requires in-depth knowledge of the latest trends in industry and academia. 

When you also consider that you should modify your CV for each position you apply for, hiring experts makes a whole lot of sense. Check out our academic CV services and let us do the tedious part so you can focus on your work.

  1. Consider your audience

Before you finish the final draft of your CV, ask yourself who will be reading it and try to tailor it as much as possible to that audience. You don’t usually know exactly who will be making the decisions, but you can try to create an image in your mind. Is that person a fellow PhDer? How busy are they? Should you lean more on your academic background or your relevant work experience? Will the person be interested in publications or articles under your name, or should you bring your lab work to the fore? Should you mention your scholarships? Once you have identified your audience, you’ll be better placed to hone your CV.

You can determine the answers to these questions to some degree by taking into account the nature of the job you want and the language used in relevant vacancy postings. Take note of the keywords used in job descriptions—they will typically stand out in some way (they could be bolded, italicized, or underlined or appear as bullet points). These are words that should feature prominently in your CV.

  1. Build a strong social media presence

Most people these days spend more than half of their lives on the internet, so how you present yourself online is crucial. Twitter is great for connecting with fellow professionals and making your voice heard, so if you can build traction on Twitter or a similar platform, you can position yourself as a thought leader in your field.  

Be careful, though—if your Twitter profile is anything less than professional, it will hurt your job prospects. If you run a personal account alongside a professional or an academic one, it may be wise to change the username of your personal account so that employers can’t find it.

While Twitter is great, the most important social media platform for your CV is LinkedIn. Having a LinkedIn profile helps you build your brand, showcase your talent, and connect with others in your field, so it’s important to maintain a presence even when you are not actively looking for a job—you never know what opportunities may present themselves. Check out how we can help you with your LinkedIn profile. 

Don’t link to your personal Facebook or Instagram profiles on your CV, and make sure that you have locked down anything you want to keep private. As always, aim to maintain a professional online presence.

  1. Use a nice design, but keep it simple

Whoever makes the hiring decisions often doesn’t have the time to read through every CV that crosses their desk. You want yours to be eye-catching but not too loud. In fact, an overly fancy or creative CV design can hurt you—the content should speak for itself. Additionally, a recruiter scans CVs looking for particular pieces of information, and if you use an unusual design, that could make it difficult for them to find those bits, and they may just toss your CV aside.

So, this is not the time and place for Comic Sans (unless you are a quirky graphic designer). You will need a nice, professional font, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Garamond, or Helvetica. Include subheadings for ease of readability, align your margins appropriately, and try to limit your CV to between two and four pages. 

  1. Proofread, proofread, proofread!

Your CV needs to look polished, professional, and as perfect as humanly possible. If you have been staring at it for a long time, there’s a chance that you have not caught common mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. After all, it’s extremely difficult to proofread your own writing because you are too familiar with it, so always get a second pair of eyes on it. Plus, it’s not just typos and grammatical errors—your linguistic and stylistic choices are arguably as important on a CV as your experience and skill set. Get a quote for our proofreading and editing service and partner with a professional to take your CV to the next level. 

This is an incredibly exciting time in your life. All of your hard work is finally about to pay off. As you make the big transition from the campus to the professional world, make sure that your CV reflects all of your accomplishments and paints you in the best possible light! 

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