Curriculum Vitaes (CVs) are traditionally used by those with graduate degrees when applying to jobs within academia or when applying to research positions. CVs are very exhaustive and include everything that you have done regarding education, publications, presentations, research, classes taught, and other professional activities. In my case, every time I complete an objective towards my graduate training, whether that be attending a professional development event or submitting an abstract, I dump it onto my CV. With your CV easily being several pages long, imagine how daunting it can be when told you need a resume instead. “Ugh, help please?!” Since I am interested in a career in industry instead of academia, as a part of my graduate training I was given the task of “fake applying” to a job post that interested me. This meant that I needed to drop a lot of items on my CV and cater my experiences most relative to the job I was “applying” to and construct a perfect resume.
Needless to say, I STRUGGLED. I spent hours trying to narrow down what was most important in terms of this job. I obviously thought that all of my combined experiences mattered. However, employers spend on average 10 seconds reviewing cover letters and CVs. So, making sure my resume stands out in that 10 seconds is very important on progressing to the next step in the job hunt process. After receiving my assignment back with tons of red markups, and listening to what my other peers had to say about what they learned during this assignment, I feel as if I now have a better understanding of how to better construct a resume.
One trap that I fell into was using the pre-made templates. While they may seem aesthetically pleasing, they often do not place your information in a format that allows the reader (employer) to scan easily and quickly. A simple, yet classic, 1-column format with bold heading is often best.
Another good tip was combing all of my graduate work into one section title, “Experience.” What we are currently doing as graduate students, while it may not directly relate to the job, is still valuable experience and should not be undermined or thought of as less than.
One tip, that was given to my peers and I by multiple sources, was to move “Education” to below “Experience”. This one was definitely a hard one to swallow. I worked hard for my degree and want my employers to know that I have it. However, what employers care about is your experience. The degree is a requirement box you will be checking but not what makes you most applicable to get the job done.
Do you agree with moving “Education” or do you still believe it’s definitely something to show off and keep at the top?
Jacqueline Leachman is a student-scientist working diligently to complete her doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Kentucky, “Go Cats”! Her interests include nutritional implications in the developmental origins of cardiovascular disease and obesity, and health disparities. @JackieLeachman