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Five mistakes to avoid in your NZ CV

You love it, you hate it, the standard New Zealand CV.

This quickly brings us to our first mistake to avoid...

1. Using a personal-style CV on your funding application

I know, I know - you spent a lot of time picking colours and formatting to make the. most. beautiful. CV known to humanity. Funder's just aren't interested. Their job is to try to compare apples to apples across applicants, and this is best done by having a standard template. If you haven't seen this standard CV template, head to the MBIE website: Don't try to make it fancy - follow the instructions and toe the line. Little things matter here, like having your qualifications in reverse date order (most recent first) so check over this closely.

2. Listing your personal contact address and email

A very common mistake made by early career researchers is listing their home address (hi mum!) and/or personal email in the contact details section (1A). Try to avoid this - especially if you are employed by a university in some capacity (e.g., postdoctoral fellow or research assistant). Use your work email address too.

3. Only listing keywords in your Present Research/Professional Specialty section (1D)

This section can be such a missed opportunity if it is overlooked. This is a section you can clearly explain your passions, your mission, your goals for your research - don't water this section down to just a few keywords describing your research area. If you don't have much else in your CV, you can fill this section up with your goals, plans, unqiue skills and relevant background area to help set yourself apart.

4. Counting your years experience as starting from before your PhD

I remember one of my first funding applications, I had to fill out this CV and I wasn't sure what to put in section 1E - 'Total Years Resarch Experience.' I was just starting up my PhD, but I had worked as a Lab Tech and Research Assistant many years before. So I figured - might as well max out this number - but I thought wrong. The feedback I recieved from the funder negative, along the lines of why hadn't I published more given that I had so many years experience - but in reality I was just starting my PhD.

Funders use this number to determine your experience against opportunity - so the more you have accomplished on your CV looks even more prestigious/amazing if you have done it in a shorter amount of time. The usual rule of thumb is to start counting from the year of your PhD conferral. Of course, career paths will vary and some funders have their own requirements here, but don't try to make this number bigger than it needs to be.

5. Forgetting to list cool stuff in the 'Professional Distinctions' section (1F)

So many times, I have worked with early career researchers who only have one award or one membership listed in this section (1F). When I asked them for their personal CV, I would then see a range of amazing contributions to their field. So don't be a minimalist in this section - include anything pertinent and relevant to your work as an academic. Have you been asked to be a reviewer? Been on a board or done relevant voluntary work? Have you been distinguished by being invited to give a keynote or invited presentation? Think creatively here to make sure you aren't missing another chance to sell yourself and your unique perspective.

What other tips and tricks do you use on your NZ CV? Head to the forum to share.


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