Academics live in their own special world when it comes to CVs. So it’s no surprise that many researchers are baffled when they try to leave the ivory tower. Here are five mistakes to avoid in your non-academic CV.
…be too subject-focused
When you’re going for a post-doc or fellowship your subject of study may be all important. But when you move out of academia people will start to care more about the skills you’ve used and concrete things you’ve achieved. If you’re moving into an industry research role where your research subject is relevant, great, but for everything else a very simple PhD title should suffice.
…use too much technical jargon
If you’re moving into a job that has very little to do with your research area then using lots of technical terms risks 1) confusing recruiters and 2) painting you as someone who only cares about this very specific subject – i.e. the wrong person for the job.
…assume employers understand the value of your PhD years
Some employers actively target PhD graduates and are willing to pay a premium for them. This could be because they’re looking for particular subject expertise, but often it’s because of the skills developed during a PhD.
But a lot of employers may not immediately see the value of the extra qualification. Try to think of your PhD years as a job, and tell recruiters about the relevant tasks you took on and what you achieved. Maybe it’s about the multiple projects you managed through to completion, the research budgets you handled, the international collaborations you were involved with, or the writing skills you displayed.
…use the same CV for every application
A great CV is tailored to a specific role, so it should change slightly with each application. Think about which experiences, skills and achievements are most relevant to each role; These should be the ones you emphasise the most.
Academic CVs can often run very long. But outside of academia we don’t usually want to see anything longer than two pages, and some industries will expect a one page CV.