How to Build an Effective CV and Resume for Scholarships and Fellowships

How to Build an Effective CV and Resume for Scholarships and Fellowships
  • Opening Intro -

    Scholarships is often the first step many of us had to take in order to get into the world of academia.

    And is perhaps the most dreadful, not because it is complex or intrinsically frightening, but because it will be the first time you will be submitting a formal request for funds (but, I assure you, not the last!)


The process of applying for a scholarship begins by carefully examining the requisites and target presented by the academic institution or fund granting organization. Aside from checking that you meet the requisites, most scholarships are oriented to a particular target, so it is often advisable to not waste your efforts if your profile doesn’t fit this target. If you have a profile that can be tweaked to get into targeting zone, it is worth the extra effort.

But how exactly does one achieve that? Well, you can present your profile and information through CV (curriculum vitae) or Resume, your main personal marketing tool. These documents have mostly the same purpose: they represent your academic achievements and provide important and precise information about your experience, education, and personal qualities.

It is important to stress although students don’t usually have tons of experience (and no scholarship awarding program expect them to), putting the information together in a consistent resume by keeping it simple, accurate, relevant and organized will play a major role in the selection procedure.

There are certain differences between CV and resume, mainly regarding their use and length. While resumes are short, never exceeding two pages, CVs extend more than two pages.

Depending on the scholarship, some organizations will ask for resumes or CVs. A CV for a scholarship or fellowship should be written purposely and should clearly demonstrate how suitable you are for the scholarship, by including the relevant information. It should highlight your academic qualifications, achievements, future career objectives, and any other information that may give you an edge over the other applicants, like language or computer skills.

Minimally, your CV must include: an academic background, information about publications, participation in research, teaching experience, services done, relevant skills, awards and honours.

But enough talking! You are not reading all this just to know what a CV is, you want to write a killing CV for that scholarship you want. Here are the four basic steps you must follow to optimize your CV writing:

1) Gathering

Gather all the information about yourself before starting. List your educational qualifications, honours and awards, achievements, skills and information that you think might help. When you are done, critically analyze the list and categorize the information: All is worth featuring on your CV, or can something be left behind?

2) Ordering

After finishing your list, organize it so that it will seem objective and professional, and more importantly, that leaves an impression of uniqueness of you. List your achievements, current achievements foremost and then the others. It is best to describe one’s education first, and then list awards and previous work, leaving publications and symposiums for the last. In the end, list your relevant skills, that is, languages, techniques and other things you know how to do.

3) Simple and True

Never, never (never) add something you can’t back up with facts and/or actions. In other words, be honest. If you don’t have a particular skill, don’t write it down. Not only it is dishonest, it is quite dumb to lie about your skills and achievements: Remember evaluation committees are composed of experienced researchers and academics who have seen their fair share of fraudulent CVs, they will spot you right away. Don’t blow your own trumpet. Although you want the scholarship committee to consider you over the other candidates, over embellishing facts and going on about your minor achievements will not increase your chances of winning a scholarship.

4) Polish

Before sending your CV to its final destination, edit and correct it, over and over again, until it is error-free. Grammatical or spelling (regardless of how irrelevant it may seem) mistakes will give the committee a poor image of you, and some referees will simply discard your application when they encounter these types of mistakes.

Don’t look baffled, I’ve seen it. Try to leave your CV alone for a few days and then read it again looking for errors, you’ll be surprised by the amount you missed the first time. Another strategy I find useful is printing the CV and checking it on paper.

One last piece of advice: don’t ask someone to do this for you. Even if you are not the most brilliant CV writer, write it yourself. This won’t be the last time you will have to do it. There are thousands of sample CVs online, and information is abundant, so don’t just stay with my view of things, do some research (After all, you want that scholarship, right?).

Remember, effective CV writing is a skill that needs practice to master. I still often modify my CV every month or so, even if I’m not applying to any new funding.

Did you find this article helpful? If you have friends who are about to apply for a scholarship or fellowship, share this article with them. And apply away!

College Education reference:

Graduate School Prep Guide


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Categories: Scholarships