Chronological CVs for researchers

The most familiar CV format in the UK is the chronological CV, actually written in reverse chronological order. To be effective, should be tailored to the essential and desirable job criteria.

It can be used for non-academic job applications in any field, although you might consider writing a competency-based CV if moving away from research into a new field.

The chronological CV is easy for an employer to read and relatively easy to put together, but may draw attention to gaps or frequent job moves. A similar structure is used for an academic CV.

Before you begin, look at the general advice on writing CVs and making applications.

Basic chronological CV structure

Personal details: clearly laid out, but not occupying too much valuable space on the front page. Make contact details unambiguous.

Education: most recent first. Include only what is relevant, ie be selective on school qualifications and degree modules. Include a very brief description of your research degree(s) in language appropriate to the employer.

Employment history: most recent first. If some of your work experience is less relevant than others, give most prominence to ‘Relevant work experience', detailing achievements, skills gained and responsibilities. ‘Other work experience' could then go into a separate section with less detail.

Positions of responsibility: include examples from your research activities and other activities.

Competencies: eg personal effectiveness, project management, problerm solving, communication skills. Focus on those relevant to the job criteria and include a brief outline of supporting evidence.

Professional development: include any training and development activities, if relevant to the job application.

Interests: include relevant interests, giving sufficient detail to provide evidence of relevant skills for the job.

References: usually two are required and ALWAYS ask permission first. Either give full details or write ‘available on request'.

Create a structure that tells your own career ‘story'

The above headings are suggestions only. Tailor the CV to the job as well as making the CV your own by using headings appropriate to your own experience. Ideally, it should be no longer than two A4 pages.

Marketing your research experience

Your research will be a significant part of your experience and it is important to think about how to present this in a way that is appropriate to the role for which you are applying. Always consider the nature of your audience before deciding how to present your research within your CV. Further headings might include:

Research dissemination - reports, articles, etc (evidence of written communication skills)

Presentations - given at seminars, conferences, professional meetings (evidence of oral communication skills).

Researchers’ chronological CVs examples

Six researchers’ experiences and capabilities presented as chronological CVs These are fictional examples, but they are all modelled on real successful examples of CVs. They show different approaches to presenting a range of experience, subject and style.

Alan MacDonald, part-time doctoral researcher, arts and humanities and teacher:

Alison Parry, doctoral researcher, social sciences:

Mike Robinson, research staff, biological sciences:

Nabil Anwar, research staff, physics

Rebecca King, research staff, arts and humanities

Susan Weaver research staff, social sciences