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Having a professionally written CV is a crucial step for further education candidates who want to make a successful entry into the labour market.
Our CV example for PhD candidates has been created to highlight your academic achievements and transferable skills in a way that attracts the attention of recruiters.
Use the content and format of this CV sample for PhD candidates to guide you through the CV writing process and to increase your chances of landing the position you are applying for.
On top of this, we suggest using a pre-made CV template to present your best attributes and accomplishments in a favourable light. Whether you choose a traditional or modern design, the hiring manager is bound to love the cohesive structure and flow!
Ready to write your PhD candidate CV?
Check out these CV examples and implement the following tips:
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Sample PhD candidate CV
246A Lawrence Drive
Bradford BD7 4PP
A passionate psychology PhD candidate with over five years of experience in academia. Strongly aware of the ethical and confidentiality issues surrounding clinical psychology practice. Able to work independently and as part of a multi-disciplinary team. Expert user of specialised software (SPSS, CAMCI, SuperLab, etc.). Proposed PhD research topic: A qualitative exploration of the relationship between bipolar disorder prognosis and patient support networks.
January 2021 – Current
Bradford Adult Mental Health Unit – Bradford
Assistant Psychologist, Part-time
- Gathered, charted and analysed patient history data and discussed key points with clinicians.
- Checked patient identifying information against records to uphold strict security, safety and regulatory standards.
- Collected, evaluated and set up both sterile and non-sterile surgical supplies, instruments and equipment.
- Collected, documented and reviewed patient medical histories and relayed important factors to supervising clinicians.
June 2020 – December 2020
Bradford NHS Mental Health Trust – Bradford
Assistant Psychologist, Internship
- Offered constructive feedback to boost intern performance.
- Assessed intern progress and skills attainment through rigorous testing.
- Delivered compelling training presentations with clear communication.
- Designed on-the-job training plans and checklists.
- Data Collection
- Experiment supervision
- Research management
- Activity Planning
- Behavior observation
London University London
MRes Clinical Psychology: Graduated with Merit
London University London
BSc (Hons) Psychology: 2:1
Which format is right on a CV for PhD candidates?
Before completing the chunkier CV sections, you must choose between popular CV formats. These blueprints organise your experience, skills, and qualifications so they pop and stand out to employers. Most importantly, the reader will appreciate the extra effort you put in – messy, mistake-riddled applications never make it past the first stage.
There are two options to choose from – the reverse-chronological CV and the skills-based CV. The former highlights your work history, starting from your current or most recent role. The latter spotlights transferable skills, such as “problem-solving”, “research”, and “relationship building”.
So, which is best for PhD candidates? We recommend using the reverse-chronological structure because recruiters prefer applicants with tangible experience. If you don’t work full-time while studying, there’s no need to worry – you can discuss part-time positions, temporary contracts, internships, apprenticeships, and volunteering instead.
You could use the skills-based CV if you have a sparse employment background, but you’ll probably have to work in some capacity while completing your degree. Skills-based CVs can give the impression that you have no experience when that’s not the case.
Need some more guidance? Other top tips include:
- Keep your CV one to two pages long maximum
- Use headings, sections, and bullet point lists to improve readability
- Type in a neat font like “Arial”, “Calibri”, or “Times New Roman”
- Avoid colours and images – they look unprofessional
- Send your CV as a PDF or Word file unless asked otherwise
How to write a CV for a PhD candidate
If you’re wondering how to write a CV that’ll impress the reader and clinch your dream position, you’re in the right place. The following sections explain everything you need to know about PhD candidate CV writing, including the best way to present your experience, skills, and education. Keep reading as we explore:
- How to add contact details to your PhD candidate CV
- Start your PhD candidate CV with a personal statement
- How to present your work history on a PhD candidate CV
- Top skills for your PhD candidate CV
- Outlining education on a PhD candidate CV
How to add contact details to your PhD candidate CV
If you’ve sent your CV to dozens of people but haven’t heard back, you might have forgotten to add your most up-to-date contact details. It’s vital to add these, as it will increase your chances of getting a call that might further your career. Double-check that you’ve listed the information at the top of the page, preferably in a slightly larger or bolder font.
Our top advice? Keep your email address work appropriate and only include the best phone number to reach you on (this can be a mobile). It’s also important to outline your location so that the employer knows where you are based. This section should cover:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Email address
Example of contact section for a PhD candidate CV
Any County, Postcode,
0123 456 456,
Start your PhD candidate CV with a personal statement
A thoughtful and persuasive personal statement is the secret to making an excellent first impression. This punchy opener summarises why you’re the best person for the position, highlighting your unique skills, achievements, and qualifications. However, drafting one isn’t as easy as it sounds – you only have three to four sentences to play with. Thankfully, we have a straightforward formula that can help.
Begin your statement by explaining who you are, including your years of academic experience and field. Next, confirm your credentials with a showstopping fact or figure. For instance, you might have “designed a research study that secured £500,000 in funding”. Lastly, blow the reader away with your key strengths and specialisms, such as “psychology”, “clinical research”, or “acute mental disorders”. You could also add an extra sentence outlining your proposed research topic.
Following the above structure is just one way to set yourself apart from the competition, so here’s some extra advice:
- Write in the third person to sound more professional
- Use positive adjectives like “motivated”, “inspired”, and “curious”
- Don’t embellish or exaggerate – authenticity is the key to success
- Let the role specification guide the writing process
- Double-check your work before moving on to the following sections
Example of personal statement for a PhD candidate CV
A focused and ambitious psychology graduate with a special interest in the treatment of acute mental disorders. Possesses strong analytical and problem-solving skills developed through academic practice and voluntary work. Competent in designing, executing and analysing quantitative and qualitative research projects and interviewing participants following ethical and legal guidelines. Proposed PhD research topic: Alcohol consumption and its impact on eating disorder development.
A passionate psychology PhD candidate with over five years of experience in academia. Strongly aware of the ethical and confidentiality issues surrounding clinical psychology practice. Able to work independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team. Expert user of specialised software (SPSS, CAMCI, SuperLab, etc.). Proposed PhD research topic: A qualitative exploration of the relationship between bipolar disorder prognosis and patient support networks.
How to present your work history on a PhD candidate CV
The work experience section is one of the most exciting for employers because they learn more about your personality and work ethic. What you don’t say is equally as crucial as what you do – as well as picking out your key strengths, the reader can discern your weaknesses via the information you leave out. Additionally, they can see how long you typically stay in a position, which is a testament to your loyalty.
We advise listing three to six responsibilities underneath each role. When discussing your experience, outline the following:
- Job title
- Employment start and end dates
- Company name
- Company location
- Brief list of responsibilities
- Career achievements
It’s a good idea to re-read the advertisement before completing this section, so you can tailor your duties to what the employer is looking for. While you shouldn’t copy the spec word for word, this is a helpful exercise to keep your information concise and to the point. Busy decision-makers don’t have the time to scroll through pages of waffle!
Like the personal statement, include as many results and examples as possible to give weight to your claims. Let’s say you “led weekly positive behaviour management workshops” – can you explain the outcome? They might have “increased patient wellbeing by 94%” or “reduced the need for medication by 31%”. The more specific you can be, the more impressive and authoritative you’ll sound.
Finally, keep the tone upbeat and confident by leading with positive adjectives and action verbs. We’ve already spoken about the former, but the latter are often overlooked and better alternatives to “responsible for”. Some of our favourites include “authored”, “founded”, and “investigated”.
Example of work experience for a PhD candidate CV
Assistant Psychologist, Part-time | Any Adult Mental Health Unit (December 2019 – present)
- Leading weekly positive behaviour management workshops.
- Formulating and implementing psychological intervention plans
- Monitoring the impact of interventions.
- Developing new information leaflets and training packs.
- Completing research thesis as part of the position.
Assistant Psychologist, Internship | Any NHS Mental Health Trust (June 2019 – December 2019)
- Advised carers and relatives on patient management.
- Provided one-on-one support to walk-in patients and those undergoing scheduled psychological treatment.
- Administered and monitored the treatment of patients affected by acute mental disorders and manic-depressive disorders under the supervision of a senior psychologist.
Psychologist Support Member Volunteer Placement | Charity Name (December 2018 – May 2019)
- Carried out protocol-based psychological assessments of individuals with learning difficulties.
- Assisted admin staff with record-keeping and clerical tasks.
- Participated in the design of a research study to secure £500,000 in funding.
Top skills for your PhD candidate CV
CV skills can boost your chances if you’re up against equally experienced applicants with brilliant thesis ideas. Don’t be afraid to shout about your most valuable talents and accomplishments – modesty won’t get you noticed. We suggest highlighting around 12 skills, split equally between hard and soft skills.
What’s the difference? Hard skills are technical and related to your chosen field – you can learn them on the job or via formal education. Examples include “writing psychology research papers”, “designing intervention plans”, and “speaking at seminars”. In contrast, soft skills are character-based and transferable – you might be “adaptable”, “enthusiastic”, and “resourceful”.
Hard skills are nothing without soft skills and vice versa. You can possess all the knowledge in the world but lack the personality to stick with such a comprehensive period of study. Likewise, you might have a positive outlook and disposition without the practical tools to succeed.
If you need some more ideas, read through the below lists:
Essential skills for a PhD candidate
- Superb time management skills
- Ability to work independently
- Excellent research abilities
- Confident verbal and written communicator
- Can identify gaps in knowledge and offer innovative solutions
Desirable aptitudes to set you apart
- Student Member of the British Psychological Society
- Valid DBS check
- Essential First Aid course, St John’s Ambulance
- Data analysis skills
- Able to think critically without bias
Outlining education on a PhD candidate CV
Unsurprisingly, education on a CV is paramount if you’re an aspiring PhD candidate. This degree is the highest qualification possible, granting you Doctor status in your field. You could even spotlight your core credentials underneath the personal summary to reassure the reader you have the fundamental knowledge to hit the ground running.
What does it take to become a PhD candidate? Most applicants already have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in their chosen subject (e.g. “Psychology), but this isn’t essential. For example, you could complete your Master’s degree in “History” but apply for your PhD in “Religious Studies”. Either way, you must demonstrate an aptitude for independent learning.
You also need to propose a viable research project to get accepted onto a PhD programme. The most successful applications identify and fill gaps in the current knowledge.
What else should you include? Outline the following:
- Name of school, college, university, or other awarding body
- Study start and end dates
- Subject title
- Qualification level – e.g. Bachelor’s degree or A level
- Qualification result
Example of education for a PhD candidate CV
Birmingham University (2019 – 2022)
MRes Clinical Psychology: Graduated with Merit
Liverpool University (2016 – 2019)
BSc (Hons) Psychology: 2:1
South Manchester College (2014 – 2016)
4 A levels: Psychology (A), Maths (A), Chemistry (B), and P.E (C)
Dos and don’ts for your PhD candidate CV
- DO highlight your qualifications PhD candidates must prove they can withstand the pressures of academia. As such, we suggest spotlighting your core qualifications in your cover letter and at the top of your CV. Alongside reassuring the reader that you have the tools to succeed, you’ll also save them precious time deciding whether your application ticks the right boxes. You’d be surprised how many unqualified individuals apply to the programme!
- DO mention your research topic Decision makers will be interested in your research topic as well as your experience, qualifications, and skills. Mention it briefly in your personal statement, and go into a little more depth in your cover letter. Our top advice is to summarise your subject in a short paragraph at most – there’ll be more time for details in the interview stage.
- DON’T forget your cover letter The cover letter is a short one-page document that introduces who you are, recaps your top talents, and expresses your interest in embarking on this exciting new venture. It’s also a brilliant place to discuss your career ambitions – think about what you want to do after your PhD and explain how the degree will help.
- DON’T send your CV without spell-checking Of course, PhD candidates must have a keen eye for detail. Double-check your application before sending it, and ask a trusted friend, colleague, or family member to give you some feedback.
Your PhD candidate CV questions answered
What does a PhD candidate do?
A PhD candidate’s day is jam-packed with research, interviews, and thesis writing. Much of their time is spent independently learning, but there’s plenty of opportunity to collaborate with other experts. Depending on the field, you might undertake practical experiments alongside theoretical study. Some of the key responsibilities include:
- Conducting exciting research and adding knowledge to the field
- Teaching university students within the department
- Carrying out practical experiments and interviews with experts
- Reading and interpreting studies and existing research papers
- Meeting with advisors to assess progress
What makes a PhD applicant stand out?
Above all else, PhD applicants must be enthusiastic about learning and development. Plus, perseverance is paramount – when it feels like you’ve hit a block with your research, you need to think outside the box and devise brand-new approaches. Top skills include:
- Critical thinking
- Ability to work under pressure and to deadlines
How many pages should a PhD CV be?
Resist overloading your PhD candidate CV with bucketloads of information – it’ll only overwhelm the reader. Instead, keep your application between one to two pages long maximum, and only include the most relevant and persuasive content. If you get invited to an interview, you’ll have more time to expand on your experience, skills, and research proposal.
Can a PhD candidate work while studying?
Absolutely. Most candidates have to work part-time alongside studying to support themselves. However, it’s not an obligation, and the decision is highly personal. Luckily, many individuals can get a job within the university, making their schedules much more flexible. Speak to your course provider to see whether there are any assistant positions available.
Secure your dream position with an amazing PhD candidate CV
This CV sample for PhD students aims to offer key insights into the CV writing and job application process. For more insight, feel free to browse our other academic CV examples. Or get started with a pre-made CV template in our online builder. Choose a design that’s perfect for PhD candidates then select pre-written content to fill out your CV.