On Writing Academic CV

So, what are the things you want to show your target person in 10 seconds?

Writing a compelling CV can indeed be perceived differently by individuals, and the difference lies in various factors. While there may not be a clear-cut formula, the challenge often stems from language, layout complexities, and the ability to showcase one’s experiences effectively.


Crafting an exceptional CV holds immense importance in higher study applications and job opportunities. A well-presented CV can instantly capture the attention of potential employers or program coordinators, opening doors to exciting opportunities.

Research suggests that a mere 10 seconds is all it takes for someone to form an impression of your CV. During this brief window, you must showcase key elements that will capture the target person’s attention, be it a professor, program coordinator, or potential collaborator. So, what are the things you want to show your target person in 10 seconds? Think about it before copying the layout of a CV from the internet. 

THINK HARD!! It’s important.

Before lecturing on the Do’s and Don’ts, let’s focus on a CV that I followed during my masters, all the internship searches, and PhD applications. While reading this blog, keep in mind that I am talking about only academic resumes or CVs.

In your CV, the first three things you should include are your Name, Email (and optionally, Phone number), and your Education. Your Name should be bold and in a bigger font size to stand out, while your email should be as formal as possible. In the Education section, put the current or most recent one at the top with the proper date, location, and necessary information (department, diploma). Like Lam, you can provide your academic CGPA (position), and Awards with respect to education.

If you provide these three sections correctly, it will create instant attraction to the reader (whoever reads your CV).

The next thing you can add to your academic CV is your Experience. You can name it Research/Job Experience if you wish.

In this section, you have to mention your Institution or Lab and Position as a researcher in that Institution or Lab with proper dates and time length. You can provide your supervisor’s name – hyperlinked with his/her ResearchGate or Google Scholar profile.

In the detail section for each position, you have to highlight your most important accomplishments in active language. Quantification with bold font can be catchy and easy to read.

For example, “Presented one conference paper and involved in two publications (in preparation) as a co-author” or “Learned to perform immunochemistry, confocal imaging, two-photon imaging, calcium imaging, and optogenetics.”

In the Conference Papers and Publications section, you have to maintain simple rules. Use bullet points or numbers to list those things, and write them like a reference as usually done in scientific papers. After that, highlight your name so that they can find which author you are on that particular conference paper or research publication. In terms of time, arrange them chronologically (recent ones first).

Additionally, you can provide the DOI number of your paper and the Impact factor of your paper if it’s mentioned in the instructions of the application portal. Otherwise, the DOI number with a hyperlink is enough for the reader to easily look into your scientific papers.

In the Academic Awards section, you can simply list your recognitions chronologically, as Lam listed in her CV. Additionally, if your awards have an official website link, you can hyperlink them. This practice suggests that you are caring, authentic, and diligent about showcasing your academic achievements.

  • Please note that awards related to writing, reading, and debating are acceptable to include, while awards from sports and entertainment should be omitted from this section.

Above-mentioned sections are the most important for any academic CV. However, if you have space (less than 2 pages), you can include the following sections:

  • Research Trainings: If you have certified research training from a reputed national or international institution, and it is relevant to the program or position you are applying for, you should write this section like the Experience section (that I explained earlier). Include Trainer’s Name, Institution Name, and Certificate with hyperlinks to make it more impressive.
  • Laboratory or Research Skills: You can list your skills that are pertinent to the position or program you are applying for. Avoid adding basic skills like Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint, as they are commonly known and don’t add value to your CV.
  • Volunteering and Leadership: In this section, you can add your leadership or volunteer experiences. For programs in Commerce or Art faculties, this section is extremely important. For STEM fields, you may add your volunteering or organization involvement (related to science organizations would be nice).
  • Extracurricular Activities: In the extracurricular section, add your hobbies and passions outside of your academics. For example, writing essays, painting, etc. Avoid adding activities like cooking or playing cricket.

There are some common Do’s and Don’ts during CV writing. This image, taken from Harvard University, summarises them beautifully.

For your personal reading on more about CV and Resume, you can check the following beautiful blogs:

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