Structuring a CV

a PORT for Modern Languages tutorial

1 Structuring a CV

1.3 What should it include?

The number and the length of the sections composing a CV can vary, sometimes in a noticeable way. That is the reason why you can find so many CV samples and templates on the Internet: they are in fact all the same except for few minimal changes.

The only template available on the Internet endowed with some authority is the European CV format, which has recently been created by the European Community in order to standardize different national formats. Nevertheless this format reserves too much space to different categories of skills and too little to education to be the most appropriate for a prospective PhD student.

No CV template can perfectly suit your specific needs, unless it is expressly tailored for you. We therefore decided to present in this page a brief description of the different sections that your CV should include in general.

Personal details
Indicate in this section your:

  • name
  • nationality (it has to be specified, because non-British citizens may be requested to go through special formalities)
  • date of birth
  • marital status (optional)
  • complete address (including:
    • street address
    • phone number/s including your mobile
    • fax
    • e-mail address)
  • health (only if you have special needs)

You do not need to specify whether you have a driving licence and how mobile you are prepared to be in your PhD application, but when you are asked to send your CV for a job interview, for which this may be relevant, remember to add these two headings. 

Depending on how advanced you are in your career, indicate in this section your:

  • degrees (that is, the equivalent title if you come from abroad). Specify:
    • the final overall grades you were given (with their British equivalent if your titles of qualifications are not British)
    • place, name and type of institution where you studied
    • period in which you attended their courses
    • your PhD title, if you are registered for or have completed your PhD research.
    • Your PhD supervisor/s, if you are studying towards a PhD
    • principal subject options taken (including any special project, thesis, or dissertation work, if they are particularly relevant for the research you wish to undertake or the work you are applying for).
  • professional qualifications
  • 'A' levels (or equivalent -exams normally taken at 18 years old), if relevant to the job
  • awards and honours

Employment history
List in this section all your work experience, in particular, if you are applying for an academic job:

  • any teaching. For this you may include:
    • a description of the courses taught
    • tasks involved (such as, for example, examination procedures)
    • preparation of teaching materials

For any employment listed, academic or otherwise, provide details of:

  • name, type and address of the company or institution you worked for
  • the dates you started and finished
  • your position and responsibilities
  • skills/technologies you used and developed
  • the reasons why you left, if relevant

If you have not gained much work experience yet, you can include unpaid apprenticeships, summer jobs and any activity in voluntary organizations, but only if they have some relevance or if you need to explain a lapse of time between employment and studies. Also include part-time work. 

In this section you can give a statement of your research interests, which should include:

  • a summary of your PhD research
  • future research plans

These will be essential for any post-doctoral fellowship or academic post you may be applying for. You need to give full bibliographic details when listing your publications. If necessary, they can be subdivided into

  • books (including edited books)
  • articles
  • articles and chapters in books
  • reviews
  • translations

Again, if you are preparing a CV for a post in academia or a fellowship, it is crucial to highlight any conferences you may have participated in. Provide full details on

  • any conference papers given (include paper title, conference title, name and place of institution organizing the conference, date)
  • any conferences organized (title and date of conference, institution and place where the conference was hosted)

In this section you may want to include, if relevant for the job description:

  • language skills, specifying your expertise in each language listed
  • technical skills, and in particular your computer knowledge and specific packages that might be useful for the job you are applying for
  • other skills, such as social and organizational skills, specifying where you acquired them.

Provide details (name, address, email and, if possible, day phone numbers) of at least two scholars who are willing to write about your academic or professional expertise. Do not forget to indicate your relationship with them (e.g. personal tutor, content-course teacher, head of department, etc). You can also choose to name a referee who is willing to write about one of your past jobs.