A tale of two CVs

For reasons that might be discussed at a later date, I am looking for a new job.

My ultimate career goal has not exactly changed at this point in time, but I am perhaps not so resolutely committed to it as I once was. Nonetheless I am still making decisions on the basis that I’m still heading in the same general direction, even if it takes me longer to get there than I had initially expected.

Here enters the two-body element of the equation. Last fall, Paramed began working toward his Bachelor’s degree in earnest. He has a couple of years left, at which point he will most likely be working toward some sort of graduate or professional degree. This means that I really need to stay in postdoc city for 2 more years—but not (much) longer than that. I want to return to my biochemistry roots, so it’s certainly possible to crank out some publications during that amount of time. But even if I do manage that, it means that I likely will be doing yet another postdoc when we move again.

All these factors—and others not mentioned—have culminated in a decision to be less restrictive in my job search than I was a couple of years ago and to apply for both academic (postdoc) and industry positions.

Which means, among other things, having two versions of my CV.

The first is relatively easy—the traditional CV listing my degrees, fellowships, publications, etc. This is the one that will go out to heads of academic labs, and only needed to be updated from when I previously applied for postdoc positions. The second is a new beast for me—the industry CV. In many ways, it’s an expanded resumé with elements of a CV. I spent several hours this week learning about the industry CV (there are several good articles at Science Careers on the topic) and building my own.

One thing becomes immediately obvious when comparing the academic and industry CVs: Academics care about your pedigree and publications; industry wants to know what you can actually do—as in what methods and programs you actually have experience with. It’s an interesting exercise after spending years focusing on what you got and not so much on how you got there. It’s probably a worthwhile task for any grad student or postdoc, if for no other reason than to assess how much you’ve learned. And as Jeff Habig pointed out, it’s almost essential for young scientists to maintain multiple versions of their CVs these days.

Speaking of, I should get back to mine!

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10 Responses to A tale of two CVs

  1. I need to work on my industry CV. I found it makes me sound much more impressive than my academic one does- I’ve done lots of work on research that hasn’t necessarily landed me publications for a variety of reasons- but I’ve learned valuable skills with great tools.

    Good luck on your search. I hope you find something that suits you and makes you happy!

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  3. biochembelle says:

    mkasprow tweeted an excellent point: “For industry CV need to research the company so you can clearly specify how your skills help *them*. ”

    Currently I’ve formatted my industry CV such that I have skills/techniques listed under the position where I used them and the relevance in that position. My plan was to use a summary statement at the top of the first page to highlight the skills that are specifically applicable to each position I apply for. Is this sufficient? Or should the entire CV be tailored? Any other recommendations from folks who have traversed the industry application process?

    • mkasprow says:

      In addition to the links you have included, the following tips are also helpful — http://www.biocareers.com/articles/basics/resumes.html

      To more specifically answer your questions:
      1) Remove or abridge non-relevant details (for that specific job) from your job history.
      2) In your cover letter (summary statement), include important non-technical skills (with specifics), such as:
      Supervision
      Leadership
      Teamwork
      Problem-Solving
      Initiative

  4. Geeka says:

    I have a couple of comments that might be beneficial during your search. I’ve recently done some industry interviews, and I did A Lot of industry interviews when I was finishing my PhD.

    1. Even if your potential employer is from industry, it doesn’t hurt to look at their CV before the interview. The guy that is going to be my boss (as of tuesday) was in academia. They are going to ask why you want to go from academia to industry. My stock answer was that the further you got in academia, the further you were from the bench, and that while someday I would see myself in charge of a group of scientists, I wasn’t looking to make the move away from the bench yet.

    2. My new boss’s boss didn’t interview me from my CV, he interviewed me from my linked in profile. How did I know? I didn’t put anything non-science/technology on my CV. My L-I profile has information about a few other jobs that I have had, and he directly asked me questions about those jobs.

    I felt it was really easy to reword what they wanted in my ‘what I can do for you’ section of my CV. In fact, that’s the way to go, because they just have software to pick out keywords.

  5. Silver Fox says:

    I will sometimes revise the small summary paragraph I have at the beginning of my resume for particular jobs, and will sometimes modify slightly the individual job summaries (sometimes just for brevity). I’ve also just changed the cover letter (or email) to emphasize things I’m interested in or know about their company or how my qualifications or experience relate to what I think they are looking for or what I want. I also have a longer version of my resume that lists things I’ve done by topic or area, but really didn’t have anything like that early in my career.

  6. tideliar says:

    I have two versions of mine, labeled “science” and “admin”. The admin one is more like an industry CV. It’s longer than the “science” one because I can list the reams of articles I’ve written for magazines etc. that a PI wouldn’t want to know about LOL

  7. biochembelle says:

    Thanks to all for your suggestions!

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