If you’ve spent the last few years working on your postgraduate degree in science, you’ve probably accrued a staggering amount of impressive experiences. You may have published papers, worked as a lab assistant, attended conferences, taught and tutored undergraduates, contributed to groundbreaking studies, and most likely, you’ve completed an enormous amount of original research. But how can all this valuable experience help you get a job, and how do you present your skills and potential to prospective employers? First things first: if you’re applying for jobs outside of academia or research, skip the curriculum vitae (CV) and draft a smashing resume instead. A CV, especially a well-padded one, will only hold you back in the industry job market. Instead, follow these rules for creating an eye-catching resume that will have you up to your ears in interviews.
1. State your personal objective
One of the main problems with academic CVs is that they give too much information. Employers in industry are faced with dozens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of applicants and they’re not going to hunt through six pages of publications, conferences, workshops, coursework, and research projects to figure out if you’re the right person for a consultancy position. Instead, state clearly at the beginning of your resume what type of position you’re seeking and why. Keep it short, simple, and on-target. Try: “Applicant seeks an engaging position as statistical analyst in nano-biology or bio-engineering” or “Seeking position as project manager in human-development and smart-city technology.”
2. Do your research
Other big mistakes that academic applicants make: outdated forms of address and information-overload on resumes and cover letters. The internet makes it easy, and practically mandatory, to research the position, corporation, and hiring team before you apply. And if you’re listing research skills as one of your qualifications, your application material should indicate that you are actually capable of finding all the relevant information. Demonstrate your research skills on your resume by only listing experience and qualifications that fit or enhance those required for the position. Address your cover letter to the hiring manager and try to use keywords from the job listing in your letter. Reference background and interests that are related to the industry. If your skills are not clearly applicable to the position, use the cover letter to demonstrate how they are transferable.
3. Highlight your skills
Speaking of skills, at this stage, your resume should be more about what you’re capable of than what you have done in the past. Forget about chronological education lists, publications, and awards and focus instead on experiences that demonstrate your abilities relevant to the position. If you’re applying for a position as team-leader, focus on your role in group projects and collaborative research. Considering a role as a consultant? Make sure your presentation, communication, and networking skills are evident. Don’t be afraid to include your advanced degrees, even if the position doesn’t require them. But if you’re worried that a Masters or PhD will be seen as over qualification don’t hesitate to focus on your transferable skills and play-down your academic achievements by moving them to the bottom of your resume.
4. Utilize Templates…
You may think that you know how a resume should look, but there are different styles for different jobs and sectors. Do a bit of research online and see what kinds of resumes are best suited to the position. Try livecareer.com or other resume-template sites to get an idea about the various styles and forms. Templates can also help you identify the kinds of information you should include on your resume.
5. But make them your own
Remember, you want your application to stand out. If your resume contains lots of relevant and unique experiences and skills but looks like a clone of every other resume submitted for the position, you may not make the cut. So play around with layouts. Add and subtract sections depending on your specific qualifications and skills. Make sure that your resume reflects you and your personality, but don’t make it too informal. Some people recommend including a picture on your resume, but for professional positions, this can be too personal. The best advice: keep your resume clean, simple, and informative.
6. Check it…TWICE!
And last, but not least, make sure that your resume is bullet-proof. Typos, spelling errors, inconsistencies, or factual errors will stand out like a sore thumb once you’ve streamlined your information and they will not impress prospective employers. Proofread and double-check your resume, use a proofreading site and get someone else to give it a once or twice over. In fact, having someone else look at your resume is a great way to highlight any irrelevant information or missed opportunities. And remember that you’ll need to update, adapt, and potentially reinvent your resume for each application, though you may only need to submit one application if your resume is as impressive as your qualifications.
Read more about graduate studies in science.
Elizabeth Koprowski is an American writer and travel historian. She has worked in the higher education system with international students both in Europe and in the USA.