How to Write a Resume When You Have an Academic CV
Understand the difference between an academic CV and a resume
An academic CV and a non-faculty resume are completely different job documents.
Academic CVs showcase your subject matter expertise and your academic accomplishments (e.g. conferences, publications). They also highlight your teaching and research as your only work experience. They show everything that you’ve done in your PhD career. By listing your education at the top of the document rather than at the bottom, CVs underline your academic pedigree.
Resumes, on the other hand, are tailored documents that focus on results rather than accomplishments. In a resume, your experience may count more than your education.
Your goal in crafting your resume is to show how you are a great fit for a specific role. In your resume, you are selling the benefits of hiring you. As such, resumes are a professional marketing tool.
You must persuade the hiring manager that the skills you have are relevant for the employer. Your resume provides that summary or quick snapshot of your skills.
Resumes will get you an interview, but they do not get you the job. Think of a resume as a conversation starter that gives you an opportunity to speak face-to-face with someone who will be making hiring decisions.
Find out everything you can about your target role and company
Before crafting your resume, think about the needs of the employer. Hiring managers have real life problems to solve and they are looking for a candidate with the skills to help. To persuade them to grant you an interview, find out what problems the target company has that you could help solve with your skill set.
The job description is your ticket in, so read it carefully. Annotate the job description and read between the lines. Highlight the keywords, particularly the action verbs. What skills, tasks, and qualities is the employer seeking? Hiring managers reading your resume want to see the right language in your document. Use keywords taken from the job description.
Gather the notes you took during informational interviews (https://beyondprof.com/tips-for-informational-interviews-via-phone-or-video-chat/) if you were able to speak with an employee working at this company.
Research the company by reading their website carefully. Write down their mission statement. Sift through their social media posts on LinkedIn and on Twitter. What are they sharing or liking? Include relevant information in your resume.
Be mindful of your audience
Hiring managers and recruiters are your audience. Recruiters are busy and spend, on average, only six seconds skimming each resume.
They expect a brief, scannable document (one or two pages MAX).
Make the connection between your academic experience and the specific job you are seeking explicit. Translate your experience into language the hiring manager will understand, using the language of your target industry.
Make use of white space and of bullet points to make your content easy to take in at a glance. Choose an appropriate font.
Identify your skills, your competencies, and your impact
Prior to writing your resume, you need to identify your transferable skills and competencies. Your PhD will not speak for itself.
Set your academic CV aside and reflect on your past work experiences, including your PhD research, teaching, and service responsibilities, as well as any contract or volunteer work you did during graduate school.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What steps did you take to complete each project during your PhD?
- What skills did you exercise while completing each project?
- What did you accomplish during these experiences?
- How did those accomplishments impact your organization/company/PhD-granting institution?
In listing your accomplishments, use a *STAR *statement to show your thought process, your behavior, and the positive impact you had in a given situation:
- Describe the event or situation;
- Explain the task you had to complete;
- Describe the actions you took to complete the task;
- State the results of your actions.
Use a combination resume format
For people transitioning career fields (like you, a PhD holder with an academic CV), the combination resume is the preferable resume format. It combines the skills-based resume with a chronological format.
List your experience in reverse chronological order.
Know what to include in a combination resume
- Your contact information: if you are listing your LinkedIn and professional website, make sure you point employers to digital content that is professional and up-to-date.
- A profile (also known as an executive summary): At the top of your resume, include a brief (~ 100 words) description of who you are as a professional, specific to your field
- Skills: list 6-8 competencies or skills relevant to the job you are seeking and at which you excel. Examples include research, qualitative or quantitative analysis, grant writing and management, curriculum development, and language skills.
- Relevant work experience (paid or unpaid): place your professional experience above your education, recognizing that your potential employer may consider your experience to be more relevant than your degree
- Keywords: Frequently, resumes are read by a computer or a someone in HR who does not make the hiring decisions. They will simply be looking for keywords, as a way to triage applications. Make sure to include keywords from the job posting and keywords important to the industry. Sprinkle these keywords throughout your resume. Do not use key-strings, which are keywords simply listed out of order, like hashtags in social media.
- Quantifiable accomplishments: Hiring managers don’t want to read a list of your job responsibilities. They want to see the impact that you’ve had in your past jobs. For example, say how many courses you have taught, specify the dollar amount of grant money you managed, or list the average rating you received on teaching evaluations. Align your project results to the job specifications.
- Education: List the university, the degree obtained (in reverse order), and the date of completion. The degree field is optional. Your PhD shows that you are dedicated and that you do not shy away from hard work. Do not omit your PhD, but consider listing it with your education at the bottom of your resume.
Know what to exclude in any resume
- Superfluous information. The resume is not the place to list every single one of your career accomplishments. If your dissertation is not related to the job you are seeking, leave it off. You may want to omit jobs that were short-term assignments such as temp work. Unless it is extremely relevant to the role and you do not have more recent experience, you should exclude work experience dating over 10-15 years. Only list your college-level education and up.
- Unnecessary words. Since you have limited space, write concise sentences, omitting unnecessary words (e.g. articles). Write in first person, but drop the subject pronoun (“I”).
- Information about past terminations or personal issues. Leave out any mention of situations that could be viewed negatively (e.g. personal health issues, terminations, layoffs).
Make a master document but tailor your resume for each position
Employers are seeking an authentic document, not a generic resume.
Customize your master resume to create a tailored document for each job description.
Consider hiring a professional document writer
Resume writing is an art. If you need some extra guidance or are overwhelmed by the process, consider hiring a professional to help with your job documents.
Get feedback on your resume
Remember, there is no such thing as the perfect resume. You will be touching it up constantly and customizing it for each role.
Get feedback from friends, family, and people working in your target industry. They will be able to tell you if the connections you make between your academic experience and your target role are clear, and whether you are using academic jargon they do not understand.
It’s always a good idea to have an extra set of eyes to check for typographical errors. And always revise and customize your resume before sending it!
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