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5 Resume Tips for Academics Going Into Industry

You are doing it! You are writing a resume for biotech industry jobs.

But if you are like most folks in academia, you are much more used to working on a Curriculum Vitae or CV. Resumes are different (at least in the U.S.), and now, you have questions:

What should it look like? What goes in it? What will improve your chances of getting that hoped-for interview?

We spoke with Recruitomics Consulting to get the scoop since their recruiters have seen many resumes from academics. They know the common issues that trip people up, and what you can do to really make that document shine.

Here are some of our favorite tips for academics working on their industry resumes:

Be concise

If your CV is a full-length feature film, think of the resume as a highlights reel. It needs to be succinct!

A CV is a complete history of academic appointments and accomplishments. But a resume highlights the most relevant information about your experiences, skills, and accomplishments, where relevance is measured by the jobs you are seeking.

One study found that recruiters spend an average of 7 seconds looking at a resume at first glance. Therefore, our recruiters need to be able to skim your resume quickly before they decide if they will read further. You can help them decide to keep reading by making your resume concise.

Add experiences (yes, you have them)

The “Experience” section of a resume is an important one, and you probably have more that you can put here than you think. Some of the experiences that academia teaches you “don’t count” are important to industry recruiters!

If you were a PhD student researcher for five years, even if you weren't paid from the same funding source the whole time, well, that COUNTS as experience, so you should add a description of what you did there to your resume. If you had a volunteer department service role that was ongoing and a significant time commitment, that’s an experience you can add, even if it wasn’t a paid position.

It can help to reframe what “counts” as experience. Was it something you did on a regular basis, that you put time and effort into? Did you gain knowledge or skills from doing it? If so, recruiters probably want to know about that. Add it.

Put a summary at the top

When you read a journal article, you probably start with the abstract because it gives you an overview of the publication. The same is true for recruiters reading your resume! They want a summary at the top of your resume, right under your header. We call it a highlights section. Typically you write this after the rest of the resume.

Your profile statement summarizes your relevant experiences, skills, and interests in two to five sentences. It also includes a handful of carefully chosen keywords to describe yourself. If you use the resume to apply to a specific job posting, you can highlight how you meet the job qualifications by writing a good profile statement. A profile statement might not be something you had on your CV; however, iit is incredibly useful to a recruiter who is going to read your resume quickly. It tells them what to look for and helps them not miss out on any key information.

Forget the “one-page” rule

It might be controversial, but this tip is specific to academics who are creating resumes for the biotech industry! While there are other employment sectors that prefer a one-page resume, there are good reasons not to limit yourself to one page.

This is especially true if you have publications, conference presentations, or posters highlighting your research. It’s best to keep those on your resume! Those items are a great way to demonstrate your research accomplishments and communication skills, which recruiters look for. They are often directly relevant to industry jobs. Likewise, if you have professional experience before academia, that’s worth including too.

There is no hard and fast rule for resume length that works for everyone. Many early-career researchers transitioning to biotech will find that a two-page resume works well. It’s a balance of being concise and including the relevant information that recruiters want to read.

Get started early

We get it, life is busy. There are probably a lot of other priorities that come ahead of writing a resume right now, especially if you are not available to start a new job right now.

But imagine this scenario: Tomorrow, a recruiter, friend, or colleague tells you about an amazing industry job opportunity. The kind you’ve been hoping for. And the company will start first-round interviews next week, so they need you to submit your resume ASAP.

If that happened, would you have a good head start on your resume, or would you be starting from scratch?

Bottom line: it’s better to write your resume now, before there is an urgent deadline.

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