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Plan to leave the Ivory Tower: Read

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Samples and Examples

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu Jan 11, 2007 10:24 am

Ned said, "Im with V. Dapic, a link with a bad or good industry CV for a PhD-level scientist would be worth its weight in cyber-gold."

I'd take a decent CV vs. the perfect CV.

With a decent one, you can be on the street networking (which is more important than anything) in two weeks. WIth the perfect CV, you'll always be fussing, changing, worrying, etc.

Industry does NOT see this issue in the way that you think they do,

Dave
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Plan to leave the Ivory Tower

Postby Emil Chuck » Thu Jan 11, 2007 11:46 am

Having had gone through my job search last year, I think "good" and "bad" resumes depend highly on the context of the job and the audience. For me it would be like critiquing you on a generic presentation of your work without the context of the audience (medical doctors, astronomers, politicians, or fourth graders?). I have backup copies of all the iterations of my resume when applying to all the jobs that I did. Despite the diverse skill sets they were looking for (which required me to practically create new resumes each time), I had a fair number of callbacks (as some on this site know).

I'm sure it would be more interesting to see how my resume evolved, but it also reflects how my job search evolved.
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My two cents on resumes, CVs and handshakes

Postby Agnes » Sat Jan 13, 2007 1:40 pm

Great forum, great thread.

I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on these issues. I hope this is not too long but hopefully can be useful to some people.

I am working as a postdoc in the US in academia (hopefully my last year) and have a very traditional academic background, having worked in labs in Europe as an undergrad and grad student and then in two different labs in the US. As I see things, to me there is no excuse like "in my country of origin we don't give handshakes to greet people (neither in mine). If you live and work in the US and you want to build work relationships in the US you have to adapt and do things like they do here. If it's a firm handshake then that's what it is.

During the past year, when I was at a complete loss and didn't know whether I wanted to stay in academia or move to industry) I took a course called "The Business on the Bioscience Industry" held by another University in the NY area. VERY, VERY USEFUL. Basically it's an introduction on how things in the industry work from very different perspectives and we all our teachers and lecturers were working in either big pharma or biotechs in the area. We had to do three presentations in teams of 4 (first time I had done that in years). A real challenge when you have been used to decide about your work mainly by yourself for the past 10 years. But it was a great experience.

For the first assignment in which we has to make a proposal for novel targets for development and give novel ideas on how to improve the pipeline on pain drugs of a mock company. In that and the following presentations (on which I painfully learned that it's not about the science only you have to show that your ideas are feasible and are going to give tons of money to the company) I learned also that this type of corporate presentations are somehow different from the ones for a scientific meeting (which I had done in the past without a problem).

I learned that:

-You always face the audience, avoid looking or reading your slides (slides are only the support of your ideas not were you present data and were all the focus of your attention is, the focus of your attention is trying to make eye-contact with your audience trying to buy them your stuff).

-The presentation is done with the lights on (which helps for the eye-contact issue)

For people working in industry or born and raised in the US this might seem like no big deal but it was quite a change for me.

In that same course there was a specific section on Corporate Culture and we had practice on how to network during a business lunch (and how to behave during one) , how to greet people with handshakes and how to introduce yourself with one meaningful sentence. Of course the Resume vs CV issue was discussed as well. And there I learnt that is very different to the CV that I had written for academic positions. I spent a lot of time reshaping and formatting it. I took examples from the internet (as well as the mentioned UCSF site, Duke and Stanford have also very good sites. Just type "resume writing" in Google and a whole range of pages show up. Ultimately is like a research protocol: you have ten different versions for the assay of your interest and you have to decide which things are important for you and what needs to be left out or modified for your particular case. After all we are scientists. We know very well how to modify a protocol. I think this is the same thing.

I came with a particular version of my resume that took me MONTHS to get (I was only working on it on weekends though).

The main difference with my academic CV is that it shows what are the skills that I gained beyond lab techniques and publications.

- I include as examples of team working and collaborative work the fact that I handle (set up meetings, emails, write rapports) collaborations with people in other labs present in other institutions and ever other countries.

-As examples of oral and writing skills I cite publication and grant writing as well as lectures at university, seminars at meetings and other types of presentations (just cite in numbers, NOT descriptions of on what those presentations are).

- For leadership, I cite that I have co-organized a work in progress series of lectures for the post-docs in the department and a journal club for the lab (both previously nonexistent).

-For initiative I cite the fact that have developed research project independently of the research lines of the lab and techniques that I have introduced to the lab.

All this and more goes under a subheading of "Major Accomplishments" for every research position I've had. There's only one line for actual research accomplishments (that is the number of publications and oral and poster presentations, I have the list with all the details as a separate appendix because it is a bit long).

I have a summary heading at the beginning with a description of the main things I want them to know about myself. This takes six lines, with the first two as a definition of myself with my main field of expertise and years of expertise in that field that I had in bold. (The "name" of the field changes slightly depending on where I am planning to send it and on what people are looking for).

I had my resume reviewed by the career counselor of the University where I took the course. She had NO remarks. She thought it was pretty good. Since then I keep reviewing both my CV and Resume and since I have decided to stay in academia my resume hasn't left the resume folder in my laptop yet. BUT, to write it and to think of what I have learnt in the lab apart from techniques have made me realize that I do indeed have a lot to offer and that has changed a lot the way I present myself both to academic and corporate people in general. And funny enough, the only offer I got so far for a Biotech company in Europe comes from networking ;-)

Good luck to everybody. Again, sorry this was so long.

Agnes
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On a practical note,...

Postby A.Gee » Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:21 pm

...there is no harm in improving those handshaking, personal introduction or presentation skills, especially when targetting jobs at multinationals. E.g. for a large multinational with ~200,000 employees, assume personal contact with 0.1% of total employees, which implies having to shake hands and introduce oneself 200 times, at least. Today alone being my first day at work after a vacation I shook hands with several colleagues, and with a student trainee whom I had not met previously.
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On a practical note,...

Postby Stephen L. » Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:09 pm

Actually, I just went to a networking workshop at my University's career and placement office and shaking hands was something that was talked about. Apparently, a "proper" handshake is firm (but not too firm) and has the "webbing" between the thumb and the index finger of the two people touching. (If that makes sense.) Believe it or not, we actually practiced shaking hands. Sigh. My tuition money was well spent.

Agnes, the 0.1% = 200 people is little scary in terms of hand shakes. Reminds me of a West Wing episode where Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits were campaigning... and Alda developed skin burns from all the handshakes....

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CVs and resumes

Postby N.P.L. » Fri Jan 19, 2007 4:29 pm

This has been an outstanding discussion and I've enjoyed reading it.

I have a couple questions regarding resumes and what should be included.

(1) In many sample resumes, no career objective statement is included. For my part, I include this in the cover letters I draft rather than on my resume. Given there is no hard rule for the objective statement, where would it do the most good, in the cover letter or the resume or both?

(2) In drafts of my resumes and CVs (I have several, tailored to various positions), I have included volunteer work where the experiences seem relevant. My PI and other faculty members have advised me not to include these for two reasons. First, take the time to volunteer makes it seem that I am not sufficiently devoted to my career. Second, some volunteering has been through my church, which can provoke an negative reaction in some and "alerts" prospective employers to my religious beliefs.

My question, if the experience is relevant, but the context may be viewed negatively, should it be included on a CV or resume?
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CVs and resumes

Postby Derek McPhee » Fri Jan 19, 2007 5:45 pm

Personally I am not a fan of career objectives, whiche tend to be either generic to the point of being meaningless (find challenging employment in a pharmaceutical company) or so specific so as to appear contrived (find a job where I can study the XYZ mouse model). I much prefer a summary of experience and career highlights. As for item two, quite aside from the potential for "alerting" employers to things that are none of their business anyway, I am hard pressed to think of any volunteer activity that one could do through a church that would be germane to a scientist position, so use the space for something more useful like describing a particular scientific problem you faced and how you solved it.
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CVs and resumes

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jan 19, 2007 5:52 pm

NPL asks, "(1) In many sample resumes, no career objective statement is included. For my part, I include this in the cover letters I draft rather than on my resume. Given there is no hard rule for the objective statement, where would it do the most good, in the cover letter or the resume or both? "

If you read this month's Tooling Up, most of those people's comments in the "Source Addendum" linked to that piece comment on the cover letter being more important. I'd agree. Put your objective into the cover letter, and use the preferred "Qualified By:" or "Summary" statement at the beginning of the document.

Also, "In drafts of my resumes and CVs (I have several, tailored to various positions), I have included volunteer work where the experiences seem relevant. My PI and other faculty members have advised me not to include these for two reasons. First, take the time to volunteer makes it seem that I am not sufficiently devoted to my career. Second, some volunteering has been through my church, which can provoke an negative reaction in some and "alerts" prospective employers to my religious beliefs."

This one may be six of one and a half-dozen of the others. Most people from industry would tell you that your PI advice is off-base for them, that indeed appropriate volunteer experience is good to show in the document. Perhaps for a tenure track job, you couldn't show anything other than 100 hours a week dedicated to your science, but in industry the hiring managers want to see you as a whole person. Having a life outside of science is OK, and showing volunteer work that seems relevant is OK most times. Derek's advice is good, but I'm not as hard and fast on the matter. I wouldn't go TOO religious though . . . they are right that some people are quite anti-religion on resumes. This means that a "Volunteer, Food for Hungry Program, United Methodist Church 2001-2007" could be OK, but that "Volunteer Sunday School Teacher, United Methodist Church" may not be. Others thoughts on this??

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