To Resumé, or not to Resumé?


2343397511_db948c640c_zThere’s been some great discussions and dialogue at @ASPB #plantbio16 around careers and applying for jobs. Specifically there has been great dialogue around preparing cover letters and CV’s to submit as part of an application process. During a couple of the conversations that I’ve been involved in, I’ve realized that there is considerable confusion about when to create a “full” CV, and when you use a (typically shorter) resume. I also realized that I’ve been using the two terms interchangeably, which I should be more careful about!

Applying for jobs in academia:

When applying for academic jobs, a CV is the generally accepted method of communicating your training, accomplishments and ambitions. They can be long, detailed and comprehensive. However, it’s still imperative that they are clear, well written and highlight the key things you want your next PI or search committee to see. Some good suggestions are here.

Applying for R&D jobs in industry:

Here’s where things get a little tricky. Conventional wisdom states that any non-academic job should use a resume. Short, concise, lacking the level of detail expected from academia. I would challenge that assumption when applying to a research role at a company.

It’s highly likely that any R&D hiring manager is going to want to get a feel for your research and what have you accomplished. They’re going to want to know how long you have been a post-doc, and how many papers you’ve published (as first, contributing or corresponding author) and in what journals. It’s quite possible the actual science won’t be 100% relevant for the position you’re applying for, but they’re going to want to be able to see that you can drive and complete projects, generate testable hypotheses and conduct robust experiments that are worthy of publishing.

So don’t hide your science! Talk about the outcomes from your research. List the papers, talks and posters you’ve taken to meetings. You never know, the hiring manager may have been there too and remember you.

The same goes for teaching, grants, collaborations and professional service. Any industry leader worth their salt will use these to evaluate the “soft skills” you would bring to the team. Are you likely to contribute in cross-functional teams and jump in and help with different challenges? Can you make a compelling case for funding (a skill just as critical in industry as it is in academia)?

I suspect a well prepared CV for an industry role will still be shorter than one for academia, but don’t miss the opportunity to differentiate yourself from the other candidates!

Applying for non R&D jobs in industry.

Go ahead, keep it short. Resumé all the way!

In summary: The way I think about it: if you’re gunning for that next great science role, no matter where – show and be proud of your science, share your enthusiasm and show me everything you have to offer.

Guest post by Phil Taylor, an Associate Science Fellow and Science Strategy Manager at Monsanto in St. Louis, MO. Phil is also a member of the ASPB Program Committee.

(photo credit)



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