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Friday, August 19, 2022

Explainer: 8 Common Mistakes You Should Avoid in Your Academic CV

Are you experiencing difficulty putting up a winning academic CV?

Are you tired of receiving derogatory remarks by CV reviewers?

Selection committees have a maximum of 6 seconds to skim through your CV, how do you make sure they stay longer? This article highlights 8 Common Mistakes You Should Avoid in Your Academic CV.

The academic CV is one of the most important documents applicants prepare before applying to grad schools abroad for fully-funded scholarships as well as other academic doctoral, research, and postdoctoral positions.

Scholarships and academic positions require a different level of detail in CVs to standard industry CVs. And with such a limited number of academic roles available, it’s highly important not to blow your chances with CV mistakes that could have easily been avoided.

For some scholarships especially in Europe, A typical academic CV style called Europass CV is required.

To make your journey towards securing your dream scholarship easier, we have compiled a list of common mistakes you should avoid in your academic CV in 2022. 

Several other scholarships are available in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, and Canada, offering full scholarships and monthly allowances. Here are some suggestions you should check out;

Personal details such as date of birth, Local Government Area, extra mobile numbers, and Mothers maiden name, Religion, Age, Nationality, State of Origin, Gender, and Number of kids are irrelevant and make your CV disgusting. Apart from the disgust, they take unmerited spaces.

For an Academic CV, the personal details required are your name (in full), your contact e-mail address (maybe also your house address), and an active mobile number.

Additionally, you may add your active social media (LinkedIn and Twitter links) provided they are well profiled and professional enough to be seen by a professor.

This is why your personal details are required in the detailed application forms or portals, and schools do not admit students based on state of origin, gender or religion.

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2. Do Away With Profile Summary!

A lot of applicants make the mistake of including professional summaries in their academic CVs. An academic CV is not a resume or a CV for a job application.

Instead, you should replace your professional summary with your research interests such as;

Environmental engineering, Sustainable Chemistry, Materials and Polymer Chemistry, Wastewater treatment technologies… 

These should be relevant to the available scholarship or academic position you are applying for.


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3. Excessive Academic Qualifications

There is nothing in the world a grad school professor or a selection panel wants to do with your primary or secondary school education. They are generic elementary schools and every student is expected to have passed through them. So please do not include them.

Your WASSCE, GCE, or A-Level results are not contributory your academic CV. So if you have included them in your CV, kindly use the Backspace button.

4. Lack of Research Experience

An ideal academic CV should include your research experience. 

A lot of fresh graduate students always believe they do not have research experiences, but one would imagine what their Bachelor’s and Masters Thesis, Industrial Training, and SIWES programmes are meant for.

 Once the methodologies and accomplishment are communicated properly, they are firm enough to make good research experiences.

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5. Please Do Not Use Passive Verbs

For the bullets explaining each section of research experience, leadership skills, and accomplishments, action verbs should be preferably used.

Passive verbs are boring and will not take you far especially when you are competing with thousands of students.

Examples of actions verbs you can use include;

  • Characterized peanut shell using FTIR, SEM, EDX, and XRD techniques.
  • Carried out proximate analyses on xxx sample
  • Used xxx equipment to determine xxxx
  • Led a team of 50 students on a research outreach 
  • Mentored a class of 13 students for their matriculation exams with a 78% success rate
  • Performed kinetic, equilibrium, and thermodynamic isotherm analyses on the adsorption mechanism of tetracycline

6. Careful With The Use of Pictures

Different countries and continents have different requirements as far as pictures are concerned on academic CVs.

While pictures are required on your CV in Europe, it is not important in North America.

Personally, I advise candidates to avoid pictures as it basically may warrant bias as regards admission, especially in today’s world of widespread racism.

Also, pictures do not add to the grading system of your CV, so why include it when the space could be taken by Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which contribute more to your research experience.

7. Poor Formatting and Styling

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Your CV should be as seen and adored as yourself. It should be addressed as though you are attending a physical interview.

Be consistent with line spacing, font, and font size. Avoid rainbow colours in your CV, they are distracting and, make it disjointed.

12 point Calibri font with a 1.0 line spacing is ideal enough for an academic CV.

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8. Typographical Errors and Grammatical Mistakes

The last mistake you would want to make in your CV is the error of typo or grammatical howlers.

Typo and grammatical mistakes are often interpreted as lack of attention and concentration, hence it is important to proofread your CV as many times as possible before your final submission.

An error-free CV gives you an edge over other thousands of applicants, and takes you a step closer to securing your dream scholarship.