Advice for writing CVs (for jobs outside of academia)

I have been applying for jobs for awhile. I have noticed that CVs are different when I am applying for jobs outside of academia (jobs outside of research institute/ jobs in industry) compared to jobs within academia (lab/teaching/researcher positions) .

I have listed some tips that I have used when writing my own CV. I hope this helps you! Be sure to look on my instagram page (@life_of_learning) in the next few weeks for tips on writing the academic CV.

For jobs outside of academia… typically they want a shorter document (1-2 pages). This limit however will definitely depend on the job. But, be sure that the activities you have listed are relevant for the job! The tips I have listed below are fairly general and can be applied to most CV/resumes. 

  1. Read their job description and figure out what qualities the job is looking for and think of things that you have done to match those qualities. Make sure to list these relevant activities in your CV.
  2. Use their terminology in your CV (ie. they want someone with leadership, list that category in your CV). 
  3. Keep it concise, but give them information. For example if you lead a team, what was this team for? How many people were in this team? Was it an interdisciplinary team? 
  4. Use action words! Instead is saying “I did this”… change it to  “I initiated this fundraiser that raised over >500$ in funding above our goal.” Having action verbs in your CV gives the reader a clearer idea of what you achieved in that role and it makes you stand out! 
  5. If you are ever stuck and don’t know what the proper formatting is for your particular job, I would ask others in the field! Some fields are pretty particular about how they want their CVs. ( ie. for a teaching position, they want you to demonstrate that you have taught classes, and sometimes they want you to demonstrate your teaching effectiveness with student feedback and/or teaching awards).
  6. Be consistent and be sure to proofread and align your document. Be consistent with formatting, titles, fonts, grammatical tenses etc. You just want the CV to be readable and not have grammatical errors. Your CV is your first impression with the company, you want to make it as easy for the hiring managers to read as you can. 
  7. My main tip for when you are applying for multiple different jobs is to have multiple CVs! Make sure to tailor your CV to the job in which you are applying for. I have one master CV with everything that I have ever done. Then, when I apply for jobs, I will pull activities into a separate CV document for that particular job.

Hope this helps you. Best of luck!

How to fail forward

Failing forward is when we learn from what happened and move forward. We all make mistakes, and that is OK! I fail all the time. Recently, I had to change my dissertation submission date because I couldn’t finish in time. I made a goal that was too ambitious and too short of a time frame for me to finish writing my dissertation. But I learned something and I tried!

As Dr. Randy Pausch (author of The Last Lecture) once said,

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”

We need to remember that we are all human, and we are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.

The next time I feel that I have failed… I will try to remember these few things.

  1. It is OK to fail at something, what did we learn from it? Try not to think about it as a mistake or as failing at something. Own your mistake! Instead think about it as learning. We learn the best by making a mistake. As a researcher I am constantly testing out new ideas, and most of the time I am wrong. But, we wouldn’t know that we are wrong unless we try. So make those mistakes!! Make them into learning moments.
  2. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It is really easy to put ourselves down for failing at something. We feel horrible. We feel like imposters. But I think we need to remember that everyone started somewhere!
  3. Be flexible. Sometimes, things happen. Tomorrow is a new day.
  4. We are all human!

Hope this helps you!