Contributor Prital Patel
During the first half of the Naturejobs Career Expo conference talk, “How to look your best on paper”, Lauren Celano spoke about the skills that should be highlighted in your resume for various career paths. In the second half of the talk, Celano elaborated on the differences between CVs and resumes, how to chose the right one for your application and how to compile your experiences in the best way.
Curriculum Vitae versus Resume
A Curriculum Vitae (CV) documents your academic career including publications, awards, honors, affiliations, presentations and teaching experiences in reverse chronological order. They tend to be at least two pages in length. CVs are common in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East for most job applications. In the United States and Canada, CVs are primarily used for academic and research positions or fellowship applications. For non-academic positions, a resume is generally preferred. Resumes are concise documents summarizing your qualifications, education and work experiences. They tend to be no more than two pages.
The key goal for each of these documents is to ensure that they are succinct. Don’t minimize any of your accomplishments; instead highlight the things you’ve done that are most relevant.
There are some key differences to consider between these two types of documents.
For a CV:
- Use your work address and email.
- Education should be listed early on and research projects must be detailed.
- When writing an academic CV, you can assume that the reader is knowledgeable in your field.
- Professional references and mentees should be listed along with the value of each grant received.
For a resume:
- Use your home and personal email address.
- Education can be listed in a number of different places and your research details must be tailored to each role or company that you are applying to.
- Do not assume that the reader is knowledgeable in your field; explain your experience in laymans terms.
- References are typically not listed and can be provided as a separate document.
- You should state that you have mentorship experience, however mentees names are typically not detailed.
- Grant funding agency names can be listed, however their values can be omitted.
- For US resumes: don’t include personal details such as number of children and photographs.
Summary of Qualifications (SOQs) versus objectives
SOQs or objectives are listed at the beginning of the resume.
SOQs may be better compared to objectives, as your objectives may change over time. This may stop a company from contacting you if your objectives are to be a chemist while you are also qualified for other openings.
About three or four bullet points that highlight the most valuable qualities to the job should be stated.
It is a good idea to clearly indicate the reference number and title of the job that you are applying for. In the letter, include your contact details such as your email and phone number. In Celano’s example, this was places at the bottom of the letter. In addition to writing about your interests and how you are going to help the company, you can also re-iterate your qualifications in light of what the company is looking for. Keep this to one page and avoid irrelevant information.
#NJCEBoston journalist competition winner Prital Patel is a PhD Candidate in Medical BioPhysics at the University of Toronto. She is funded by the Canadian Liver Foundation, and works on understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate liver development and cancer. Outside of the laboratory, she enjoys reading, exploring the outdoors, learning languages and camping. She also enjoys engaging and educating the lay audience about liver research and health on her Facebook page, The Science Behind Your LIVEr.