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Bad advice travels fast

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Bad advice travels fast

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:29 pm

I was attracted to a video from one of those "paid job search consultants" and it was about the fact that no employer wants a CV-- that they all want resumes, and your shouldn't be over two pages in length.

Wow, where does bad advice like this originate!! Ugh! I have never met an employer for science jobs that wanted only 2 pages. That's got to be the rare hiring manager, for sure. Science jobs are generally landed by the usual CV with some targeting to make it much more applicable to the position at hand. Now, I suppose if you are going to go after a sales rep job you might shorten it to two pages and make it look like a "resume" (Dick Woodward?) but I honestly think that even those organizations considering a PhD hire for a sales job would rather seem some technical detail and not just a 2-page summary. For sure, accountants and real estate agents have to keep their resumes at 1 or 2 pages, but what's up with this kind of advice for PhD's? Does anyone have any idea where this originates, or in what world it might actually be valid advice?

After reviewing this "consultant's" video, another one came up automatically from the NIH and this was a couple of years old, but some NIH career counselor is telling PhD's on that video that they need a "CV only for academia," and for the rest just a short resume is all that is required. Wrong again.

I'm baffled. Someone, please tell me where a super-shortened version of your credentials gets you further than something of reasonable length which actually builds a case for your hire?

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Re: Bad advice travels fast

Postby D.X. » Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:19 am

I think this is an old School artifact of my parent's Generation.

I first heard this when I was I was in high School, this was the advice guidence councelers give.

I think today the message is more about being "crisp", and perhaps that has been mis-translated in to a 1 page or 2 page only resume/CV as a serrogate for "crisp". I also think it reflects the idea that most People get most of the info they Need to get on the 1st page anyways and a view that anything after can be perceived to be "supplemental", which I mainly agree with.

But I think there is also a balance. In General i don't like to see CV/resume's that go beyond 2 pages, but some times they are necessary, depending on people's experiences and the document formats used.

If a Person Needs more than 2 pages to tell a compelling Story then so be it but I recommend, the most compelling part of the Story starts at the beginging - and that's where most Focus should be - as they say, "you're only as good as your last Project/Job".

At the end of the day its not about 1 or 2 pages, its about getting the Point accross about your value proposition, linked to your experiences, let that guide where you fall in Terms of length, don't worry about number of pages.

My current resume would probably make most balk - its 2 and say maybe 1/4 pages. So I couldn't get every Thing on 2 pages, not that I really tried but it's the the stuff nobody cares about anyways beyond the first page. So to sticklers who follow the 1 or 2 page rule, they'll want to puke. But hey, it still gets me the calls for interviews so all good.

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Re: Bad advice travels fast

Postby Dick Woodward » Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:28 am

Dave:

I would probably be concerned if an applicant for a sales position (even with a Ph.D.) had a resume much longer than two pages unless the resume was full of relevant accomplishments. I would only expect a longer resume from a very senior person (20+ years of experience) who might have a lot of significant accomplishments to highlight. The resume should certainly not be a CV with lists of papers and the like. If the position was one that required writing and public speaking, I would advise putting the details papers and presentations into a separate document that the recipient could peruse if so desired; the resume should say something like "accomplished author and speaker".

Even with a longer resume, the focus should be on more recent positions and accomplishments; the earlier stuff should be noted, but minimal description should be needed.

I should point out that while my full resume runs 4 pages (as Dave can attest, I have had a long and interesting career), I do have a version that is only 2 pages long and still has the majority of the relevant information.

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Re: Bad advice travels fast

Postby Rich Lemert » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:27 am

Dave

Your problem here is that you've been working with PhD candidates for so long that you sometimes forget that you're the outlier. Most recruiters and hiring managers rarely deal with people at this level, so they don't realize how the process is different. Couple this with the tendency to misinterpret the fact that hiring managers tend to skim through resumes to decide which one's they want to review further, and it's easy to see where this sort of advice comes from.

The whole focus on "length" is, in my opinion, being lazy. Hiring managers don't really care about length - they care about conciseness and clarity. They want to be able to immediately identify the important parts of your background without having to wade through a bunch of irrelevant 'junk'. If they see things they like they will either keep reading or they will move your resume to the "to be reviewed later in more detail" pile.

Conciseness, unfortunately, is a rare commodity. This post, for instance, is very non-concise. Thus, most people substitute 'short' for 'concise' because it's easier to be short.
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Re: Bad advice travels fast

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:37 pm

That's correct, Rich, that the bulk of the world does not have a PhD or get hired by a science employer. But for those who DO want to get hired with a PhD in their field of science, trying to put all the material including publications (never seen an employer who did NOT want to see publications) into a 2-pager is almost impossible. It's probably do-able for a newly graduated PhD, but it sure doesn't look good (for a position requiring a decade's experience) for applicants to send in a 2 page resume to a job ad when the competition shows much more experience and relevant pubs etc!

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Re: Bad advice travels fast

Postby D.X. » Tue Oct 31, 2017 2:50 am

Dave Jensen wrote:That's correct, Rich, that the bulk of the world does not have a PhD or get hired by a science employer. But for those who DO want to get hired with a PhD in their field of science, trying to put all the material including publications (never seen an employer who did NOT want to see publications) into a 2-pager is almost impossible. It's probably do-able for a newly graduated PhD, but it sure doesn't look good (for a position requiring a decade's experience) for applicants to send in a 2 page resume to a job ad when the competition shows much more experience and relevant pubs etc!

Dave


I think Dave you do a good Job here qualifying your advice regarding the inclusion of publications detailsfor those looking for positions "in their field of science" and for technical positions.

Though for other positions outside that specification it may not so relevant to include such elements, with the direction I went publications was not longer relevent after my 1st Job, - I still have a line item under my education to the tune of "Thesis work published accross 7 publications, a list is available upon request".

No one has ever requested it, and well for my 1st industry Job my publications just supported my knowledge in subject matter as a priority objective, it was softly linked to a form of showing merformance as a secondary or tertiary objective. But even then on that CV, i didn't Highlight any technical Details of any Experiment or Project I did during PhD or post doc work.

I also remember my early CV where I just defocused from the technical stuff and placed emphasis on the translatable skills and there at least those early CVs, well no more than 1.5 pages if that at the risk of being perceived too academic for non-technnical/Research-based Jobs.

So depends on the Jobs and path you're applying to - Level of technical and scientific Details if that's a Driver of length Needs to be considered in the context of Job area one is applying for.

The more experienced People can run the risk of not being focused and putting too much in - can read like a laundry list of Jobs if not done well from what i've seen, and that can run into unwelcome perceptions of being a dinosaur over experienced and well we all know what happened to them dinosaurs.

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