College isn’t for everybody, but for some people, you can barely drag them away. They get a bachelor’s, a master’s, a Ph.D. and still they won’t leave. Next thing you know, they’re standing at the other end of the classroom as teaching assistants, lecturers and eventually full-fledged professors. If that sounds like your dream life, this academic resume example and writing guide can help unlock the doors to the ivory towers of a career in higher education.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What academic professionals do
- How to write an academic resume
- Distinctions between a normal resume and an academic CV
- The five essential elements of a resume and how to write them: header, summary, employment history, education and skills
- Format, design and layout considerations
Resume.io’s collection of writing tips and resources are designed to give you the best possible chance of landing your dream position. This academic resume sample is one of our more than 300 guides and resume examples all crafted with care to help you finish your application in just a few clicks.
What does an academic do?
Colleges and universities employ a wide variety of workers, from groundskeepers to librarians, but the word “academic” conjures up images of a brilliant if socially awkward professor, perhaps with stylish brown patches on the elbows of his blazer.
Most college professors teach, of course, but not all — some are too busy doing world-changing research, publishing best-selling books, running university departments or jetting off to Sweden to accept their Nobel Prizes.
So while top-tier professors are busy searching for all the dark matter in the universe, who teaches their classes? Lecturers, assistant lecturers, teaching assistants and associate professors often step in to instruct the unwashed masses of college students. Lecturers are usually working professionals whose experience has made them experts in their field, while lower-level professors are generally those who have not yet attained tenure.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a professor at Harvard who has published more books than you could count on all your fingers and toes … so do we really expect him to be grading freshmen’s pop quizzes? This is where teaching assistants come in, helping professors with the demands of daily coursework, assignments, lab work, office hours and yes, grading tests.
All of these (and more) are academics — highly educated professionals dedicated to making the world a smarter place.
How to write an academic resume
If you can write an 80,000-word dissertation about muons and quarks, writing a one-page academic resume might seem like a pesky chore. But good luck getting a job without one!
Some definitions are in order here, as the term “academic CV” refers to something more elaborate than an ordinary resume. The upshot is that the words resume and CV usually mean the exact same thing — a short, usually one-page document highlighting a job candidate’s experience, education and skills. The word “resume” is favored in the U.S. and Canada, while the word “CV” is more common in other countries.
However, what’s known as an “academic CV” (in any country) is a much longer document used in academia, medicine and some scientific fields. An academic CV goes into far more detail on a candidate’s educational credentials, publications and awards. In an academic CV, you might list every paper you’ve ever published, cite all of your honors, awards, grants and fellowships, and leave no stone unturned in describing your scholarly qualifications.
This is far more information than you could include in an ordinary resume, and so, as a professor of ichthyology might say, it’s “a different kettle of fish.”
There is no real page limit for an “academic CV,” whereas there is widespread agreement that a normal resume/CV should not exceed one page. So before you sit down to write either one, be sure you understand what the employer is looking for.
This writing guide focuses on the more commonly used definition of a simpler, shorter resume/CV, which should usually be just one page.
Choosing the best resume format for academics
There are five essential elements in the format of an academic resume, and if you leave any of them out, that would be like showing up for an interview without shoes:
- Resume header
- Summary/profile/personal statement
- Employment history
Resume header example
The resume header at the top of the page contains your crucial contact info: name, occupation, address, phone number and email. In addition to letting employers know how to reach you, the header is also an important design element, giving your resume a little visual flair. It should never be gaudy or gimmicky, but it should employ creative use of fonts, spacing, layout, design and perhaps a splash of color.
The header is easy to write, since you already have all this information memorized, but it’s the most challenging part of a resume to design. This is why we suggest that you use a pre-designed resume header where the layout is already done for you. All you have to do is enter your contact info, push a button and boom — you’ve got a beautiful header at the top of your page.
Take a moment to review the education resume examples and writing guides at Resume.io, where you’ll find dozens of headers to choose from. Find one you like, click on it, and our intuitive builder tool will walk you through the short steps necessary to make it your own. It’s a lot easier than passing your survey class on astrophysics.
All set? Now you have just four things left to do.
Academic resume summary example: In a nutshell
The resume summary , also known as a profile or personal statement , is sort of like an “abstract” or “précis” at the beginning of a scholarly article. It summarizes the main points of everything that follows in just a few well-chosen words.
What is your main selling point? Whether it’s your years of experience as an educator, your summa cum laude graduation honors or your ground-breaking dissertation on the sex lives of frogs, there is bound to be something that sets you apart. Highlight it here, in a few lines at the top of your resume that summarize what it is that makes you great at what you do.
Check out this adaptable summary section from our academic resume sample:
Dynamic and dedicated professor of English, committed to the advancement and growth of students. Adept in creating and implementing powerful curricula designed to help students achieve their full potential.
Employment history sample: Not my first rodeo
If you’re looking for a job in academia, you probably have some employment history already. Maybe you weren’t the head of the French Department at the Sorbonne for the past 10 years, but you still have a certain je ne sais quoi. Let’s work with that.
If you do have a track record in academic jobs, list them here in reverse chronological order, providing the name and location of each employer, the years you worked there, and what you accomplished at each of these jobs. Be specific, using facts, figures and measurable milestones wherever possible.
But if you have no experience, remember that everybody has to start somewhere. If it was impossible to get a job without prior experience, then nobody on earth would have a job. Academia is an ongoing process of self-improvement that eventually leads to bigger and better things.
Here’s the employment history section from our academic resume sample:
Professor of English, Rhode Island College, Providence
August 2016 - March 2021
- Created curricula for first-year and upper-division writing courses.
- Worked to cultivate experiential learning and active engagement in the classroom.
- Worked with department members to enhance program initiatives.
- Supported English majors, as well as all members of the writing program.
- Worked with students from diverse writing backgrounds to identify and foster their own strengths.
- Initiated, facilitated and moderated classroom discussions.
- Served as a department mentor and advisor.
Assistant Professor of English, Rhode Island College, Providence
August 2014 - August 2016
- Provided optimal support to the head of the English department.
- Conducted assigned investigations and studies.
- Taught introductory and advanced courses in creative writing.
- Participated in interdisciplinary collaboration.
- Remained fully committed to enriching the academic experience offered by the English department at Rhode Island College.
Academic resume education example: Now we’re talking
When it comes time to compose the education section of your academic resume, you should feel that you’re totally in your element. If you have a Ph.D., list that first. If you have a master’s degree, put that second. And if you barely graduated with a B.A. in General Studies but you were the beer pong champion at your sorority, just mention the B.A.
Scholastic achievements are obviously relevant on any academic resume, and it may be worth going into a bit of detail here. If you had a stellar grade-point average , if you were a member of honor societies or if you were the editor of your college newspaper, all of that may bear mentioning.
Get tips for your education section from our academic resume sample:
M.A., English, Brown University, Providence
September 2011 - June 2014
B.A., Comparative Literature, Brown University, Providence
September 2007 - May 2011
Resume skills example: Beyond the textbooks
Every resume should include a short but carefully chosen list of skills — things you are exceptionally good at. These will differ for every field, from accounting to zoology.
Typically, this list will include hard skills (technical capabilities learned from training and experience) and soft skills (innate “people skills” that make you a good communicator, listener or leader). You know your field, so highlight the reasons why you’re good at it. Also, use this space to list any foreign languages you speak.
Below you’ll find the skills section from our academic resume sample:
- Advanced Knowledge of Literature
- Excellent Communication Skills
- Academic Research
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Honesty and Integrity
Academic resume layout and design
In choosing the best format for your academic resume, you need to consider questions of structure, design and layout.
The structure is explained above in terms of the essential elements that need to be in any resume — this is the “skeleton,” and it’s up to you to add flesh to the bones.
Design and layout are other major considerations, because you want your resume to look as good as it reads. This involves questions of font styles , and font sizes, paragraph styles, text alignment, margins , visual balance and white space. An employer should be able to glance at your resume and think, before reading the first word, “Hey, this looks nice.”
Looks matter, and in a one-page document that you’re relying on to land your next job, everything matters.
We at Resume.io are leading providers of resume layouts and occupation-specific advice on how to write them. We are NOT experts on string theory, quantum mechanics or why nobody can ever find the end of the number pi.
But you can trust us on this: Our resume templates work, and we know they work because we’ve proven it in the real world time and time again.
Key takeaways for an academic resume
- A resume is an essential tool for landing a job as an academic but make sure to keep it to one page – it shouldn’t read like a thesis!
- An attractive header makes your resume stand out and tells a hiring manager how to contact you.
- Use a balance of hard and soft skills in your skills section to show what a well-rounded candidate you are.
- A template can help you create an attractive design quickly and easily – don’t forget to customize the look for the position!