You’ve put in the work, time, effort, money… and you now have an advanced degree. Congratulations! You’ve decided against the pursuit of the Ivory Tower. Instead, you want to come join us in the land of the “lay,” and reap the financial rewards of your hard work and academic strife.
So, you start your job search and, lo and behold, your CV holds almost no value because potential employers are insisting on the dreaded resume. Here are some tips on how to transform your academic CV into a job-snatching resume:
1. Shorten it
For a former academic who has been trained to value his or her academic worth based on a CV, this challenge should not be understated. Nevertheless, this step is necessary, important, and can even be rather fun. Remove those shackles! Analyze each and every single line of your resume and clearly articulate its value to yourself. The best resumes are one page long, and though this trend is somewhat industry and job-specific, your ability to convey the value of your experiences in just a page will be appreciated in any industry because a good short resume is one written with purpose.
A great tip to accomplish this goal is to come up with 3-5 professional traits that you wish to convey in your resume, assign each to a specific color highlighter, and highlight each part of your resume that pertains to each trait. A well-prepared job-snatching resume will have minimal non-highlighted wordage.
2. Add industry-specific buzzwords
Fake it till you make it! Each specific industry has its own language and a major goal of your resume is to demonstrate your knowledge of the industry to which you are applying. This is especially important for someone who has a background in academia. For this, it is vitally important to research the field, the job title, and especially the specific company to which one is applying. Find that jargon and sprinkle it throughout your resume.
The rationale behind this practice is two fold: (1) many employers either manually or automatically scan resumes for key words and use this as an easy way to cut excess resumes; and (2) the jargon of your field of interest is the language its employers use to communicate and it is necessary to demonstrate your ability to communicate with your future colleagues in their language.
3. Remove your publications list
The cornerstone of every academic CV is the list of publications. Unless you are applying to an industry that publishes in similar journals as your academic research was published in, do yourself a favor: highlight and delete. Publications lists take up valuable space and add little value. If you have exceptionally impressive publications and insist that they will add value to your resume, make a publications list on a second page of your resume. This way, you have still reserved your most precious space for job-specific experience and your professional/academic history.
4. Dig deep (transferable skills)
Entering the job market from an academic setting may be intimidating but it is very doable. It is important to conduct detailed market research: clearly define the traits/skills that the ideal candidate for your dream career entails. Then, clearly define the traits/skills that you have developed throughout your advanced degree training or any other experience that you have acquired during or before graduate school. Then, insert the common areas of your mental (or physical) Venn diagram into your resume.
Make sure to “dig deep” here; think of any past jobs that you may have had and the skills that you developed and also consider the “transferable skills” that you have acquired throughout your graduate studies. It is very likely, for example, that you have become an expert project manager, gained invaluable presentation and/or writing skills, and learned to conduct extensive research on a topic of interest. Use all of these experiences to build a portfolio of marketable skills/professional traits and be sure to clearly highlight them in your resume.
5. Have others review it
It is impossible to understate this last point: the more people in your field of interest who look through/comment on/edit your resume, the better. Do not be squeamish, shy or arrogant. Chances are, at some point or another, the people who are currently in your field of interest were in your shoes, and will be ready and willing to help someone just starting out. Make a LinkedIn account! Comb through your contacts, your mother’s, brother’s, and uncle’s contacts. If you are still in school, use the career services office! The more eyes that zip through your resume, the more likely it is to become the job-snatching resume that you have the potential to produce.
Happy resume writing and good luck!
Photo Credit: Shutterstock