How to Write a Great Professional/Academic CV

I have come to learn that though for different purposes, several tips apply for both academic and professional C.V.s.

I personally have spent my year trying to learn as much as I can about professional development, both for personal but also entrepreneurial reasons.

While you will spend 6-10 minutes reading this post, a recruiter/selection committee member will spend likely 6-10 seconds looking at your resume. It is paramount that your C.V. be as informative as possible, while being as concise as possible.

Writing a great professional/academic Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) is crucial when applying for professional positions, research opportunities, or academic-related roles. As a rule-of-thumb, a C.V. should highlight your educational achievements, research experience, teaching qualifications, and scholarly contributions.

In this post, I will share some tips for writing a compelling C.V. that is nearly guaranteed to get you hired/selected, if you have the required experience and are the most excellent fit for the job/opportunity.

I also share in this post a sample of my C.V. Please don’t just download and replicate my C.V. Do actually take the time to read these tips, to understand how you can improve your C.V., and make it potentially better than mine. These are tips from some of the best business schools in the world, that I personally have found very useful.

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Writing a CV/Resume: Step-by-Step Guide

Here’s a guide on how you can write an impressive proffesional/academic CV:

1. Format and Structure: Choose a clear and professional format. Use a legible font (e.g., Times New Roman, Garamond, Arial) and maintain consistency in font size and style throughout. Organize your CV into clear sections, including Contact Information, Education, Research Experience, Teaching Experience, Publications, Presentations, Grants/Fellowships, Awards/Honors, Professional Memberships, and References. Use bullet points, and avoid paragraphs.

2. Contact Information: Include your full name, professional title (e.g., Research Analyst, Assistant Professor, Managing Director), current institutional affiliation, email address, phone number (optional), and professional website or LinkedIn profile (if applicable).

3. Education: List your educational history in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent degree. Include the degree earned, institution name, location, graduation date (or expected date), and thesis/dissertation title (if applicable).

4. Research Experience: Detail your research experience, focusing on your most significant contributions and achievements. Provide the research project’s title, the name of the principal investigator (if not you), the institution, and the dates of your involvement. Highlight any publications, presentations, or grants resulting from your research.

5. Teaching Experience: List your teaching roles in chronological order, starting with the most recent. Include the course name, institution, dates of instruction, and a brief description of your responsibilities and teaching methods. Mention any teaching awards or evaluations if available.

6. Publications: Categorize your publications into sections such as journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, and books. Include the full citation in a consistent style (e.g., APA, MLA) and make sure it’s clear which publications are peer-reviewed. If you have a significant number of publications, you can create a separate “Selected Publications” section to highlight your most impactful work.

7. Presentations: List your conference presentations, workshops, invited talks, and seminars. Include the title of the presentation, name of the conference/event, location, date, and any co-presenters if applicable.

8. Grants/Fellowships: Detail any research grants, fellowships, or awards you have received, including the funding source, project title, duration, and amount.

9. Awards/Honors: Mention any academic or research-related awards, honors, scholarships, or distinctions you have received.

10. Professional Memberships: List any relevant professional associations or academic societies you are a member of.

11. References: Include a section with the names and contact information of academic or professional references. Ensure you have obtained their consent to be listed. Note this is optional for academia, as often you will be contacted to provided references when you progress in a professional selection process.

12. Tailor for the Position: This is key: customize your professional/academic CV for each application. Firstly, learn about the organisation you are applying to, and what kind of resume they expect. Also learn about the things they care about – their “corporate buzzwords”. Emphasise your qualifications and experiences most relevant to the specific position or institution. This at times would mean expanding one section more for one application than you would for another.

13. Proofread and Format Carefully: Proofread your CV meticulously to eliminate errors in grammar, spelling, and formatting. – Keep the CV concise and focused.

14. Keep it to a few pages: Aim for 1-4 pages, depending on your career stage and the institution’s requirements. Most academic institutions prefer 1-2 pages. However, some organisations (especially in the development sector) prefer comprehensive CVs, and for that reason, I have 3 variations of my CV: a VERY comprehensive 6 page CV, a concise 3 page CV, and a 1 Page CV. Unless required/requested, I submit my 1-page CV, while alerting the hiring office that they can reach out for more information.

15. Seek Feedback: Before submitting your CV, ask mentors, colleagues, or career advisors for feedback and suggestions for improvement.

16. Include a photo(?): Contrary to this post’s cover image (which is from my 3-page C.V.), my 1 page resume does not include my photo. This preference varies from industry to industry. In my opinion – in industries where DEI matters a lot, your photo may work to or against your advantage. In academia, I would advise not including your picture, but rather linking your LinkedIn profile, and ensuring that is up-to-date and correctly representative of who you are.

Remember that a professional/academic CV should not only present your qualifications, but also convey your passion for research and teaching. Tailor your CV to showcase your strengths and experiences effectively, and keep it up to date as your academic/professional career evolves.

At the same time, keep in mind that getting THE opportunity/job is a contribution of several factors, and your CV is just one of them. There are many reasons why you may not get the opportunity/job, even when you have the most stellar CV. Perhaps someone was just more qualified (by years or experience). Perhaps someone else was just a better fit. Perhaps, yet, this “vacancy” was already reserved for someone else. Whatever the outcome, always (still) try to put your best foot forward, and cross your fingers for the best.

All the best in your applications!

All my love,

Ntha

Previously: Telling Compelling Stories

The most important thing to remember when writing your CV is that you are sharing your story.

Often, in your professional, personal, and/or creative journeys – you will find yourself needing to โ€œtell your storyโ€. The next issue goes into detail on some of the common ways to represent The Shape of Story.

The Art of Career Building: Everything Takes Time.

Just before I left Malawi, I had the biggest keynote of my career at the StartUp Masterclass, as was hosted by the Wealth Malawi Magazine. Having had that opportunity made me realise there was a gap (especially in Malawi/Africa) for young professionals to share their stories, but even more importantly have dialogue about what works, in what context, where, and why.

At the time, I was building the Bants2Business brand, and I had a conflict regarding creating this conversation platform for other people, and having my own conversation platform.

However, I feel the time is right for me now, as I am having more meaningful 1-on-1 Conversations with people who inspire and teach me. I’d like to share them with you, so you can also be inspired and hopefully learn from them. In a few weeks, I will be launching a podcast section to this blog.

If you are in New York (or somehow end up in the same location as me) and you have a story you’d love to share, I’d be happy to have a chat. Reach out: [email protected].

Watch this video to learn more about my journey in Digital Media in Malawi.

Coming Up: Things to Consider When Applying for a Master’s, an MBA or a PhD.

As someone who has built several startups and studied entrepreneurship at postgrad level, the question for me has been โ€˜would an MBA/a PhD be of value to me?โ€™

To ensure I am well-informed as I am making this decision, I attended not one, but two MBA Tours (February and July, 2023) as were hosted by GMAC (the Graduate Management Admissions Council) in NYC. I have also attended 3 Diversity Preview Days with 3 Universities. In the next post, I will be sharing all the things I have learnt about Masters, MBA and PhD Programmes; and their application processes.

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A Good Read: Weapons of Math Destruction

I attended the Diversity Preview day at the the Rochester University hosted by the Simon Business School, and Professor Ravindra Mantena recommended this book.

โ€œWeapons of Math Destructionโ€ is a 2016 American book about the societal impact of algorithms, written by Cathy O’Neil. It explores how some big data algorithms are increasingly used in ways that reinforce preexisting inequality.

O’Neil, a mathematician, analyses how the use of big data and algorithms in a variety of fields, including insurance, advertising, education, and policing, can lead to decisions that harm the poor, reinforce racism, and amplify inequality. As a social scientist, I am deeply enjoying this read, and would highly recommend it.

All my love,

Ntha

A 1 minute introduction to me, and what I do.

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