5 Things you Should Leave Off your CV
Large companies like Pfizer, Amgen, and Intel can receive up to 2,000 resumes per open position. This is why most companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) software to automatically filter and eliminate 75% of the CVs sent to them, as reported by CIO Digital.
If your CV makes it to the desk of a hiring manager and recruiter, they will spend an average of just 5-7 seconds reading it (Undercover Recruiter).
Seconds – this is all you get to make an impression.
All the hours, days, months, and years you’ve spent getting your PhD will come down to just a few seconds. Think of how hard you’ve worked to get to where you are. Are you really going to throw it all away by not taking the time to get your CV just right?
When it comes to writing an industry CV, less is more.
The problem is that most scientists are taught in academia that more is always better. Triplicates are better than duplicates. An N of 200 is better than an N of 2. A CV with 10 first author publications is better than a CV with one first author publication. All of this “more” is what is keeping very intelligent and capable scientists from getting into top industry jobs.
The best strategy for scientists to follow is to simplify their industry CVs down to only 1-2 pages and to only the essentials details that industry hiring managers and recruiters actually want to see. Here are 5 things intelligent scientists leave off of their industry CVs.
- Objective statement.
Putting an objective statement at the top of your CV will not help you get an industry job. Instead, it will limit you to only the one position you are applying for, and it will show that your understanding of the job search process is outdated and misinformed.
A better strategy is to use a visual center.
A visual center starts at 5 centimeters from the top of your CV and ends 5 centimeters below that. This center should be emphasized with text boxes, bullets, and bold fonts.
In terms of content, the visual center should include your biggest career highlights. The center should be loaded with the value you will offer the company, such as across-the-board accomplishments, industry-specific technical and transferable skills, and summaries of successful projects you lead.
CVs with visual centers that are interesting and relevant will catch employers’ eyes and be read much more carefully than they would be otherwise. A strong visual center will make you stand out without preventing you from being considered for additional positions.
- Job duties.
Industry employers do not want to read about your job duties. They care much more about the outcomes you achieved versus how you achieved the outcomes. Your CV should not be written like the methodology section of a peer-reviewed journal.
Delete phrases like “job duties” or “responsibilities included” with phrases like “as demonstrated by” “resulting in” and “as evidenced by”.
Unlike your typical academic CV, a good industry CV is accomplishment-focused. This means that within seconds of reading your CV, employers should be able to see that the return on investment for hiring you is higher than the salary you are asking for.
If you’ve spent your entire career in academia, you can still add tangible outcomes to your CV. For example, you could say, “Helped PI realize over $1,000,000 in grant funding by setting up strategic collaborations with a team of scientists to complete XYZ projects on time, resulting in grant renewal every year.”
Other scientific results include innovating a new technology or methodology, optimizing an existing technology or methodology, discoveries, and numbers of noteworthy publications and presentations achieved.
Employers do not want you to read a ‘works cited’ section in your CV. Too many scientists make the mistake of turning their industry CVs into bibliographies.
Ask yourself, who is the first person to likely read your resume? Is it the CEO of a company? Is it the head of the R&D department? Of course not. Instead, it’s a hiring manager who, very likely, does not have a PhD and who most certainly does not have any knowledge of your very specific scientific field of study.
Why would someone in human resources want to be bombarded with a list of your publications?
If you are interested in working in an industry position, you must understand that industry employers value your experience and results over your publications or education history.
You’ve worked hard on your publications and should be proud of them, but don’t let your pride get in the way of creating a CV that will be read by an industry audience, not an academic audience.
Many recruiters and hiring managers have hundreds of CVs sent to them daily for each open position.
Recall that most these CVs will be filtered out by an ATS software program. The remaining CVs will be further filtered out by employers who are unwilling to read anything beyond a bullet point followed by a single sentence.
The most valuable thing you can add to your industry CV is white space.
Think of writing an industry CV as the opposite of writing an academic journal article. Instead of using dense text and long paragraphs to construct a well-formulated argument, you want to simplify everything down into short, digestible, and (when possible) quantified achievements.
As such, you should avoid employer turn offs like small, dense font styles and sizes, run-on sentences, and paragraphs altogether.
- Impersonal greeting.
Never use an impersonal greeting on your CVs cover letter, or on the email, you are attaching our CV to. Greetings like “Dear Sirs” or “To Whom It May Concern” are distant and outdated, and only used when you are uploading your resume to a job posting online.
Most importantly, these greetings indicate that instead of taking the time to research who the hiring manager for a particular position is, you just threw up your hands and started uploading your CV blindly online.
Applying to job postings online is becoming a bigger and bigger waste of time. This is because over 50% of all top industry jobs are given to referrals now. However, only 7% of job applicants are getting referrals.
That’s right – over 50% of industry jobs are given to the rare 7% of people who have networked and generated a referral.
The other 93% of people a merely uploading their CVs online, blindly and impersonally, and hoping for the best.
Before you submit your CV, find out who the hiring manager is. Or at least find out the name of someone who works on at the company. Then, reach out on LinkedIn to set up an informational interview and start building a professional relationship.
Network on LinkedIn, network at face-to-face events, and do whatever it takes to get to know other industry professionals well enough to put their name on the first line of your cover letter, or the first sentence of your introductory email.
In the end, your cover letter or email should be short and to the point, with a personal greeting (e.g. Dear Jeremy, Dear Dr. Smith) and should start with a sentence that reads like, “I have been in contact with Jason Jones, your Senior Research Scientist, who mentioned that your open Scientist II position would be perfect for me.”
Remember, when it comes to crafting the perfect industry CV, more is not more. Less is more.