Common Mistakes Made When Creating a Scientific Resume

Are you ready to make the jump out of academia and into industry? Your very first step to getting on a career path in industry is to put together a resume. But writing a scientific resume can be difficult, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of help to be found. General resume sites aren’t directly relevant to scientific resumes.

The terms CV and resume are sometimes mistakenly used as synonyms, but they are actually different types of documents. Professors use academic CVs. CVs focus on the nature of the research, teaching, fellowships, grants, etc., which are more relevant to faculty positions. In industry, the focus is more on innovation, productivity, and teamwork.

The most common mistakes made when converting a CV into a resume seem to be making the resume either 1) very short and not specific enough to reflect your scientific accomplishments; or, 2) a document that more closely resembles a grant proposal, has long paragraphs, and is focused on the research rather than your contributions and skills.

Short resumes with limited bullet points often lack information that is important to a hiring manager. You need results-focused bullet points that highlight productivity, teamwork, time management, and other important industry characteristics. Terms like “investigated,” or “responsible for” do not communicate your productivity. You also need to be specific enough for people to know your scientific expertise. It is not just about what you did on the bench (techniques), it is about what resulted and what why it was important.

Resumes with long paragraphs that are too detailed and too focused on the research do not help you because 1) a hiring manager can be put off having to read something that long; 2) you missed an opportunity to emphasize how you specifically contributed to the research; and, 3) your skills and expertise are lost in a sea of words where the attention is focused on the research itself.

Skip the descriptive paragraphs. It makes resumes laborious to read and can make you look “too academic” to an industry hiring manager. Instead, include bullet points that effectively show what came out of your time spent, why it mattered, and what approach you used to get the result. This format has the added benefit of making it easier to tailor your resume to specific positions by re-ordering bullet points so that points relevant to the position are seen first.

Writing generic statements that leave out your specific expertise is not to your benefit, either. Worry less about trying to “fit” every job description and articulate your real expertise. Then focus on those types of positions or companies that are doing that type of work. Finally, stating that you are an “independent thinker with excellent problem-solving skills” is something that can be said of most PhDs. What is YOUR unique combination of traits and abilities?

You need a resume that summarizes who you are and highlights what you can bring to a project—one that shows that you are ready to step out of academia and into industry. Your resume is the first introduction to a potential employer and we all know that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

If you have questions, such as:

“How do I effectively communicate my productivity to a hiring manager?”

“What are my industry-relevant achievements?”

“How do I write results-oriented bullet points?”

“How do I show I am an innovative scientist?”

“What parts of my background should I focus on and what results matter most?”

then you should visit .

Get the tools that will help you answer these questions and show off the “best you” to industry hiring managers. You don’t have to go it alone; experts at are here to help.

The site was specifically created by scientists for scientists. You will get files such as the P.R.E. Resume Worksheet, which is specifically designed to help you, the scientist, identify results you may have not considered or included. You will see how to rethink your research experience and say it in a meaningful way. You will also get helpful step-by-step instructions and useful examples. You even have the option to have your resume professionally reviewed and returned with comments by our experts in industry–scientists who were once just like you.

Make a small investment in yourself to create a clear, powerful, industry-friendly resume. Improve your odds of getting called for an interview by visiting and getting the information, tools, examples, and resume review you need to succeed. Once your resume is ready, click HERE to see if any of these 98 “no-industry-experience-required” openings in industry are a match for your skills and interests.

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