If you are looking to transition from academia to industry and are working on your resume, you’ve likely heard rumors about resume length. Many say that a resume must all fit on one page. Others say that two pages is the absolute limit. Some even say it should be just as long as an academic curriculum vitae (CV). There is a lot of online advice regarding resumes. The problem is that not all of it is relevant for scientists. While such advice may be helpful in other career areas, it could actually do scientists a disfavor.
The adage that a resume should be one-page per ten years of experience may be true for positions in sales, marketing, accounting, and other roles, but it usually won’t work for scientists, especially if you have an advanced degree.
For doctorate-level scientists, it is really not possible to communicate your expertise and productivity in one page! That said, your resume should not be dissertation length either. You don’t want to go into detail about things that are less relevant to industry hiring managers, such as teaching experience or travel awards.
Basically, your key information (Name & contact info, Profile, Education, and [scientific] experience) should be included in the first two pages. Beyond that, a resume can vary from those two pages to many pages all depending on your publication list, patents, invited talks, books or book chapters, etc.
The goal is to make sure the information the hiring manager cares about is in the first two pages. The rest of the document is really just proof of what you claimed in those initial two pages. This also is why it is important to include your publication list (fully cited) as it demonstrates your productivity as an academic scientist.
Academic CVs are long and generally just list your current and past titles, locations, society memberships, etc. without communicating your contributions to the lab, field, or body of research.
The ‘depth’ of a resume is also very important. A good industry resume says, in a bulleted way, what came out of your research (what you demonstrated, discovered, showed, etc.) how you did it (using x technique, analyzing data, applying what approach…), and its significance (leading to…, resulting in…, etc.) Of course, not every bullet point will have all of that information, but the reader will better understand your contributions. Terms like “initiated, implemented, devised, …” may simply illustrate your initiative in developing new lines of research or approaches.
As academic scientists, we are trained to write descriptive research plans in paragraphs. These are not focused on the productivity of the researcher, are hard to read, and generally get skimmed over. You want the hiring manager to see that you are innovative, productive, and communicative without being long-winded.
The answers to these and other questions are contained in the files at ScientificResumes.com which was created by scientists for scientists. You can get the tools that will help you create an industry-friendly resume including a worksheet with questions specifically designed for you, a scientist. See how to re-think your research experience and state it more effectively so that your innovation and productivity shine through.
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