Photo Credit Nguyen Vu Hung
If you are thinking about leaving academia, or have already started looking, one of the first decisions you face is whether to use a cv or a resume for your search. The curriculum vitae is the academic standard in North America (not to be confused with the EU CV), but let’s face it – it’s a long and boring document that lists every presentation, paper and class, as well as academic committees and it’s usually full of jargon. The trick is to take those same academic experiences and translate them for employers to show your value.
Depending on your field, you can see the difference in sections (CV/Resume Section Headings) that you can expect on a resume vs. a cv. Teaching and lab/project management would go under Professional Experience on a resume. The Research section would only be included if you are going into a research based position or industry, otherwise you can include your dissertation research under Professional Experience and give yourself the job title of Researcher. Alternately, you can include a Relevant Projects section on your resume if you are in a project heavy field like engineering, and you could put your dissertation there.
When translating the content, you want to use bullet points, not mini-paragraphs. Begin bullets with action verbs, and include results or outcomes as much as possible. Teaching evaluations, publications, and successful funding applications count as results.
Avoid the use of methodological or academic jargon that would only be understood by another PhD in your field. Remember that HR, an administrator or an Applicant Tracking System will likely be the first eyes on your resume and if they can’t understand you then you won’t make the cut.
If you have a substantial list of relevant publications or presentations, you can add them on a 3rd page as an appendix. As always, ask yourself if it is going to add direct value to your candidacy for the application at hand. If not, leave it out. Space will likely be at a premium.
Here are the basic rules you need to follow: readable font (think Garamond 12 or similar), 1 inch margin is standard (can go to ¾ inch, but don’t go smaller), black typeface, no colours or distracting designs/images. Avoid italics as they’re hard on the eyes. Balance your desire to shove a lot of information into the resume with the reader’s need for white space; if your resume looks like an ant army stepped in ink and walked across the page then you need to edit.
Want more information? Check out the CV to Resume presentation I gave at McMaster University, and email me your comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.