Karin Bodewits and Philipp Gramlich share their thoughts on how an infographic CV could set you apart from the crowd.
By Karin Bodewits & Philipp Gramlich
In most western countries, the number of PhD graduates in the life sciences has increased by around 50% over the last ten years. As the job market, in both academia and industry, has been largely flat in most countries, this PhD glut is creating undesirable patterns of employment — and unemployment. Some academics are calling for ‘academic birth control’, but the academic system itself profits from the resulting endless supply of cheap labour.
For PhD holders, this means being exposed to an increasingly competitive labour market: often hundreds of applications are received for a single position. Standing out from the crowd is more important than ever. But how can PhD holders make sure their documents are noticed amid a swarm of applications?
Condensing years of hard work into just one or two pages might be a painful process for the passionate scientist, but will make your documents more attractive to read. Long, overloaded CVs can look ugly and reveal to employers an inability to select relevant information. Candidates should aim to confront prospective employers with something new and refreshing.
In technological and creative sectors, the infographic CV has started to fill this niche. It is a one pager depicting your education, skills, and experience — mostly via graphic elements.
If you can depict science in a graphical abstract, you can do it with yourself. Here are three examples:
By placing extracurricular experience on the top right (where the eyes of the reader are naturally drawn), the focus is put on what will make this particular PhD student stand out from the crowd.
A senior academic looking for a transition into industry. Experience outside the “ivory tower” is stressed by placement in the top right corner.
The focus is the world map and the books and articles, showing international experience and interest in a range of writing activities.
In the life sciences, infographic CVs are not yet commonplace. With one, you can expect to have the element of surprise on your side. But can you always use it? For sure, using such a CV could create puzzlement if applying to a traditional company or governmental institution, but employers at start-ups, consultancies, science communication companies or in other creative jobs might be delighted by a change of scenery. It´s a risk, but then again so is sending in the same old CV. So why not try something new?
Karin Bodewits, PhD graduate from the University of Edinburgh, founded the career platform NaturalScience.Careers. She works as an author, speaker and seminar leader for a range of communication topics, and is the author of ‘You Must Be Very Intelligent — The PhD Delusion’.
Philipp Gramlich has studied and researched chemistry at various universities in Germany, Australia and Scotland. After experiences in industry at baseclick and Eurofins Genomics, he co-founded NaturalScience.Careers. With seminars like “Goodbye academia?” he focuses on career- and skill-development for natural scientists.