The first step in any job search is to ensure that your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is ready for submission to prospective employers. For those of you who may still be struggling with the difference between a resume and a CV, a resume is usually a 1-2 page synopsis of who you are, where you have been and what you have done. In contrast, a CV is a much longer document that does the same thing as a resume but in much greater and granular detail. For most scientific positions a CV is the preferred document style. However, in some cases, employers may request a resume so pay attention before you submit your application.
While most people believe that a resume or CV is simply a list of your education, skillsets and experience, there is a preferred style, format and way to write a resume/CV that will enhance the possibility of securing a interview for the position. That said, it takes many years of resume/CV writing to perfect the process–something that many of you may not have time to do. If you are unsure about how to write a resume/CV or have not updated your “paper” in many years, the quickest way to being applying for jobs is to hire a professional resume/CV writer to do it for you. Generally speaking, this will cost anywhere from $200-$500. Sadly, many graduate students and postdocs don’t have the money to invest in resume writing and in many cases are unable to craft a job winning resume/CV.
If you are unable to hire a resume writing professional, I came across a DIY solution called Scientific Resumes. Apparently this service company exclusively caters to graduate students and postdocs looking for resume/CV writing help. In addition to their automated self-help products, they offer resume proofreading services and I suspect customized resume/CV writing too. I have not used or carefully evaluated their products but it may be worth a visit to their website.
Until next time…
Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!
Many people think that organizing a job search requires little more than quickly throwing together a resume, applying for online jobs or answering print ads and then kicking back to wait for responses from prospective employers. While this scenario may have been accurate 10 years ago– when jobs were abundant and the economy was humming– it is no longer the case. In fact, the current science job market may be one of the most challenging in the past 20 years or so. This is likely due to shrinking government research spending, contraction of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and the possibility that the American economy is slipping into recession. Nevertheless, there are still available jobs out there. But, in contrast with the past few years, getting them will require a carefully planned and well orchestrated job search.
The initial steps of any job search require answers to several key questions. These include:
- What do you think you want to do?
- What type of job are you likely to get (i.e. what jobs are you really
- What are your long-term career goals and aspirations?
- Where do you want/ need to live?
- What are your salary requirements?
Although answers to these questions may, on the surface appear easy, I can assure you that they are NOT and require a great deal of thought! First, not everyone knows what they truly want to do after completing 6 or more years of graduate and postdoctoral training. More importantly, many people are convinced that they know what they want to do (largely based on discussions with mentors and advisors) but are ill- informed or have little idea about the actual day-to-day responsibilities and specific duties of certain types of jobs. Therefore, before you apply for a particular job, you must critically assess whether you possess the requisite skill sets or experience to successfully compete for the job. For example, if you are protein biochemist and have no industry experience, it wouldn’t be prudent to apply for business development jobs that require a year or more of industrial experience. No matter what lab you trained in or how many publications you have, I guarantee that you will not get the job. Therefore, it is vitally important that you understand the requirements, qualifications and types of jobs that you will be able to compete for. If you don’t understand these parameters, you are in for a long, frustrating and unsuccessful job search.