How to create a strong CV/resume for postgraduate study

Crafting a powerful CV/resume for postgraduate study can make all the difference in your application. Discover strategies to captivate admissions panels with clear, concise language. 

A CV (also known as a resume) is an important supporting document in your application for postgraduate study. Along with your degree transcripts and statement of purpose, it’s usually a required document when you’re applying for a postgraduate course.

So, it’s important to write a strong CV to help increase your chances of success. 

Use clear and concise language 

A study by careers site Ladders, Inc. found, on average, recruiters screen through a CV in 7.4 seconds. That means you have a very narrow window of opportunity to make a good and lasting first impression.

And even if you’re using your CV to apply for a postgraduate course, rather than a job, you similarly need to make sure you get to the point quickly and entice the admissions panel to read more about you and your qualifications and experience relevant to the course. 

It’s important to keep in mind that when you apply for a place on a postgraduate course, there can often be hundreds of candidates you’re competing with, especially if the institution is a highly-regarded one. 

So, to ensure the admissions panel – who are often time-poor – can give your CV the attention it deserves, you should make sure your CV is: 

  • Scannable – Break it down into digestible, easy-to-read pieces of content.

  • Clear – Use language that’s clear and easy to understand. Avoiding jargon and keeping it simple is key.

  • Concise – Be sure to capture attention quickly, and avoid using large chunks of text and including information that isn’t relevant to your application. Keep it relevant and get straight to the point. 

Tailor your CV to the course 

It’s vital to convey to the admissions panel throughout your CV why you’re an excellent candidate for the course you’re applying for specifically. So make sure you include your work experience, achievements, knowledge and skills that are relevant to your chosen course 

Tailoring your CV to the course you’re applying for will ensure the admissions panel are clear from the outset and throughout reading your CV that you have the relevant skills and competencies to be an ideal candidate for the course. 

Showcase your relevant education and experience 

The admissions panel will be looking to see that you have relevant qualifications (such as an undergraduate degree) from a reputable institution in your chosen field of study. They’ll also be looking for any relevant work experience you have in the field. 

So, be sure to list these academic qualifications and work experiences early on in your CV to highlight to the admissions panel that you’re a qualified professional in your chosen field of study. 

Include your transferrable skills 

While your industry-specific skills are important skills to highlight in your CV, so are your transferrable soft skills. These could include strong communication skills, interpersonal skills, analytical and critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaborative skills.

Don’t forget to highlight any of these transferrable skills you may have, as well as your relevant industry-specific skills, in your CV. 

Highlight your achievements and give examples 

If you want to stand out as an ideal candidate for your chosen postgraduate course, it’s important to highlight the key achievements you’re most proud of, including the projects you’ve worked on that you’re most passionate about relevant to your field of study.  

When you’re highlighting your key achievements, be sure to provide specific examples of what you did, why you did it, and what the outcome was of each achievement. 

This will highlight to the admissions team that you’re not only highly-skilled in your chosen field, but also motivated and passionate to continue to develop your knowledge and expertise in the area. 

Preparing your application for a Queen Mary Online programme? Find out about the admissions process and discover guidance to help you put your best application forward:

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Topics: application process

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