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Different types of CV

If you’re keen to explore careers beyond academia, it’s important to be aware of the marked differences between an academic CV and the kind of CV (or online job application) that you might submit elsewhere. 

These may include:

  • Differences in style, structure, length and presentation.
  • Elements that you always include in an academic CV may seem out-of-place or completely unnecessary when applying for roles beyond academia.
  • You will have developed plenty of skills and experiences during your postdoc that employers want to hear about

Academic CVs

The purpose of an academic CV is to demonstrate your reputation and track record in your area of specialism to a research institution or to a potential funder. 

It typically lists all your publications, key conference presentations you’ve delivered, the research grants or awards you’ve received, your teaching experience, and details of any professional affiliations or academic-related positions such as membership of editorial boards. It tends to be a near exhaustive account of your academic career and (except for some funding applications) there is no recommended limit in length. 

Narrative Academic CVs

Increasingly funders are recognising that traditional academic CVs, whilst exhaustive, don’t cover a lot of the activities that academics actually do, promote an unhealthy and competitive research culture and are hard to compare across disciplines. 

Several research funders are trialling narrative CVs, which allow researchers to evidence a wider range of activities and impacts, including knowledge generation, development of individuals, contribution to society, and give context to their careers (e.g. career breaks). For example: Royal Society’s Resume for Researchers and UKRI’s Resume for Research and Innovation

Whilst narrative CVs value a broader range of contributions to academia, they may also introduce unintentional biases, particularly towards researchers for whom English is their first language. Funders are working to reduce these biases, but developing narrative and storytelling skills can also help researchers write persuasive narrative CVs. 

CVs beyond academia

The conventions of academic CVs are well established. By contrast, a non-academic CV or job application is a macro-level overview: a quick “elevator pitch” of your career to date in which you demonstrate your value by highlighting a carefully chosen selection of your achievements, skills and experiences, tailored to the requirements of the role you are applying for. 

Potential employers reading this kind of document are likely to skim-read it in just a few minutes, even just a few seconds, at most, so it needs to be written in such a way as to quickly convey essential information. 

Tina Persson discusses academic versus non-academic CVs in the video below.

Useful resources

The University of Glasgow has created a short online course for researchers creating a narrative CV.

The University of Leeds Research Culture Uncovered podcast;

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