MY RESUME: What to write?

You may read that resumes should only be one page, or a maximum of two. You might read that that one page per ten years experience is the rule.

Scientific resumes occupy a rather unique niche–especially if you are a graduate student or postdoctoral scientist. Though we may not have much employment experience, we often do have strong research experience and meaningful, important accomplishments as a result of years of study or experimentation.

The question is not how long should it be, but what information should be included and how should it be presented?

Because of our academic training in grant writing and application essays, we are taught to write descriptive paragraphs of what we’ve done or plan to do. Our resumes often reflect that training and become laborious to read. What you want is to have the relevant information (profile, results, education, training, technical skills) showcased in the first two pages. If you have additional pages of publications, awards, patents, invited talks, etc., it can go on for many more pages. And that’s OK. It will still be appropriate. Those pages serve as evidence of what you claimed you accomplished earlier in your resume.

As industry scientists, hiring managers, and recruiters, we have found that two pages usually suffice for grad students and postdocs, though sometimes proof of your claims can acceptably spill onto three pages. Using a bulleted format will help hiring managers find information quickly on your resume.

What is most important is that we communicate results–results that matter to a hiring manager. Those results are more than just scientific conclusions. And results are not just the number of your publications. In industry, productivity matters. Use of active, past tense verbs like initiated, implemented, demonstrated, developed, analyzed, showed, etc. psychologically communicate “results accomplished” to a hiring manager.

If you are asking such questions as, “How do I convert my descriptive paragraph writing, or my academic CV, into a document that is result-oriented and industry friendly? What kind of results matter? How do I get a hiring manager’s attention and show that I am a productive scientist?” then you should visit and get the tools that will help you answer these questions. was created by scientists for scientists; here you will get files such as the P.R.E. Resume Worksheet designed to help you identify results you have not considered or included. You will find questions specifically designed for you as a scientist that will make you rethink how you state your research experience. PLUS, you will get instructions and examples. You even have the option to have your resume professionally reviewed and returned with comments if you desire.

Chances are, you will only get one chance to grab a hiring manager’s attention. And studies show that a yes or no decision on a resume is made within 5-7 seconds. Make sure they see the “best you” with an appropriately written, industry-friendly resume that communicates your productivity.

For a list of recent scientific openings in industry (including industry postdoctoral roles) please click HERE.

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