Do you feel stuck in how to approach your non-academic job search? Are you unsure what a resume even entails and how (or if) it’s different from a CV? I can help you prepare a knockout resume that will help land you your first job outside of academia.
The Differences between a CV and Resume
While some academics and researchers might be aware there is a difference between a CV and a resume, they often aren’t sure exactly what that difference is or how to account for it during their writing process. And many people struggle with the notion of “converting” their CVs to resumes, which is a misnomer.
I have worked with faculty, postdocs, and graduate students, and I can say this: it’s normal not to have a clear understanding of resume conventions when you haven’t had to use one before!
In a general sense, the CV is a document about what you have done, but the resume is more about what you can do for an employer. This is a subtle but important distinction. (Note: The situation is different for higher education administrative leaders who must prove their abilities to lead a college or university with their CV.)
There are key differences in strategy, structure, and audience between resumes and CVs. Resumes are written strategically and, ideally, tailored to each job opening that you’re applying for. This is why I also teach my clients how to tailor their resumes. Even after a thorough resume writing process, work still remains when applying for any one job.
When I think of resumes, I also think of VERBS! Resumes must be accomplishment- and results-oriented and tend to be less “listy” than CVs. This means that rather than simply listing their publications or presentations, the writer makes use of that information in a different way.
Resumes are typically used to apply for jobs in the private sector and to non-profit organizations while CVs are used for academic jobs, research fellowships, and postdoc positions.
Who “reads” the resume is also different than who reads a CV. For academic job searches, a committee reviews applicants’ CVs and related materials. Many academics are surprised to learn that applicant tracking systems (ATSs) are a type of “computer reader”—or software—that parses resumes for keywords. Because of this, the writer should understand how applicant tracking systems work and write their resume accordingly. Almost 100% of large corporations and recruiters use ATSs, so this is a critical consideration for a resume, but it is not a factor for most CVs.
Last, CVs can be long (I’ve worked on some that are 70+ pages), but resumes are typically between one and three pages, with two pages being the most common that I write.
As an academic who started my own business, I understand the challenges PhDs face when working on resumes. I transitioned away from academia and into the world of business, yet I straddle both worlds and understand the writing (and job search) conventions in each.
For more on this, consider reading my article 5 Best Practices for Resume Writing That Transitioning PhDs Need to Know from my Transitioning PhD blog series. This series contains 11 articles by me and several guest authors and focuses on topics relevant to PhDs contemplating or in the midst of a transition—from starting a consulting business, to networking and translating your skills, to career transition success stories.
Confidential Resume Help for PhDs
My academic clients range from full professors, to postdocs, to graduate students representing dozens of academic disciplines. Equipped with a humanities background by training, I have also developed a specialty in helping scientists as a result of co-facilitating Life Science Networking in Raleigh-Durham for more than four years; the Research Triangle Park is also one of the nation’s hubs for life science organizations. I work with academic clients across the US and Canada, and have also worked with clients in the UK, various countries in Europe, and Australia.
My services are strictly confidential, meaning you don’t need to wonder if word will get out that you’re leaving the academy.
If you’re interested in having me partner with you to write your resume, contact me for a complimentary consultation. Although resumes are a popular service offering, I also assist transitioning academics in all phases of the career transition process: learning to network, using LinkedIn, writing cover letters (they are different from academic cover letters!), and preparing for interviews. If you’re interested in these services or to learn about how I work with universities and programs to train their graduate students and postdocs, please visit my speaking and teaching offerings.
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