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There is no denying the fact that cover letters are becoming less and less popular. According to a survey in Jobvite, 55% of hiring managers say that while cover letters are not important in their job search process, they still recommend that you learn how to nail them. With the advent of social media, recruiters and hiring managers can easily vet a candidate on LinkedIn without even looking at their resume. But here’s the thing… You never know exactly what the hiring manager wants to see, and it can be a huge misstep if you forget this. In a recent survey of 1,500 recruiters and hiring managers by CareerBuilder, 29% of employers said they wanted a cover letter. That is significant enough to include it. In that same survey, 77% of employers indicated that they are most interested in knowing if the job candidate’s skills match what they are looking for. Your cover letter should convince employers of precisely this – it is 1 more opportunity to prove your worth. Use this opportunity to show the hiring manager that you have what it takes to do the job, and that you take the hiring process seriously.

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Many PhDs spend countless hours on their resume, listing endless accomplishments, responsibilities, publications, presentations, and other information that practically bore industry employers to death. They mass-upload this ridiculous document to online job postings and wait for the job offers to roll in like red carpet on their way to industry success. These PhDs–otherwise sharp and creative people–are shocked when they never hear anything back. The reality is that your resume is probably never even seen by another human being, let alone rejected. Your resume is being rejected by a computer program. JobScan reports that more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies are using Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to screen candidates’ resumes. And according to The Financial Post, ATS systems reject up to 80% of resumes in a matter of seconds. By now, you have probably begun to realize why your non-tailored, academic-style resume is not getting any response. That being said, even the best resume could be rejected by ATS. To be clear, a great resume, tailored to a specific job and written in an industry format, can still end up getting rejected by ATS. Unfortunately, you cannot say for certain what an employer has told their ATS to look for in a resume. This is why your resume is not actually the most important part of your job search. Even a perfect resume is not enough to get you a job. You need to network and generate referrals so that you can send your resume directly to a person. Only once you have a connection to the company you are interested in does your resume become important. As reported by Quartz, candidates with a referral have a 40% better chance of getting hired. Yet even with a referral, a terrible resume will lead to a rejection.

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The key to making a successful transition to industry is through developing and highlighting your transferable skills. And yes, as a PhD you already have the transferable skills you need for your future career. Now you must learn to leverage these skills to build a career in industry. Your potential employer knows that you have deep technical skills in your field, what they need to see is that you have the ‘soft-skills’ they are looking for in their next hire. You need to show to potential employers that you are a well-rounded individual with the transferable skills needed to be successful in their company.

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Are you submitting your resume to online job postings? You might be surprised to learn that your resume is never even seen by a human being. 98% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking software, according to Jobscan. Large-size firms (those that employ more than 500 individuals) receive many thousands of resumes every week. The only way their hiring departments can be functional is by using tracking software to weed out unqualified candidates. This puts applicants in kind of a tough spot – optimize your resume to get through the tracking software or get used to rejection. Even highly qualified candidates face this very issue. Baruch College has reported that an unsettling 70% of all applications are never even seen by a person. It can be as simple as not having the right keywords – the software doesn’t see what it needs to see, and your application is automatically rejected. Here are a couple key items to remember during your job search. First, if you submit a resume and don’t hear back from an employer, it does not mean that you aren’t qualified. Second, you can bypass tracking software by getting one of the most powerful tools in networking – a referral. Regardless of how you apply to a job, your resume absolutely must be optimized for passage through software screening and meet industry’s standards.

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According to LinkedIn there are 25 hard and 5 soft skills that employers are really looking for in candidates this year. These in demand skills are what hiring managers will be looking for on your resume. It doesn’t matter if you gained that skill as a postdoc or as a graduate student, that is not the important part. The important part is your skill – and that’s why a functional resume is a great option for PhDs transitioning out of academia. Additionally, the functional resume is great for getting past Applicant Tracking Software (ATS). Jobscan reported that 98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS, so if your resume isn’t written with ATS in mind it will probably be rejected before a human even looks at it. These ATS systems are set up by hiring teams to scan resumes for the skills they want in job candidates. So, to get past these filters your resume needs to be highlighting your skills in a way that the software understands. A functional resume makes this easy.

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No one is coming to knock on the door of your lab and offer you a job. Getting a job requires strategy. Large companies, like Google, Microsoft, Pfizer, etc get 1,000s of applications per job opening. If you are relying on luck to make you the 1:1,000 that gets hired, you are going to be waiting a long time. Instead, you should be strategic. Realize that, according to JobScan, 98% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking software to screen resumes. And understand that employers care more about your soft skills than they do about your specific technical skills. Inside Higher Education reported that the most in demand skills according to employers were, listening skills (74%), attention to detail (40%) and effective communication (69%). You need to be taking all this information, and more, into account when crafting your job search strategy.

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If you are submitting your resume to online job postings or to job portals then is very likely that your resume is never seen by a person. Jobscan reported that 98% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking software. Many large to medium sized companies use ATS systems as well. When companies get thousands (or tens of thousands for companies like Microsoft or Google) of resumes every week they rely on these systems to weed out unqualified candidates. But if your resume is not optimized then you could get rejected, even if you are a qualified candidate. Baruch College reported that 70% of all applications are never even seen by a person. Simple things, like not having the right keywords, the right experience listed or the right length resume can cause you to get rejected automatically.

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As a PhD is it’s difficult to let go of thinking that your technical skills are the most valuable thing you will bring to an organization. But, you need to realize that your transferable skills are what will be the deciding factor in whether you get hired or not. A recent survey by Yoh, found that 75% of Americans would hire someone who had the right soft skills but lacked the technical skills required for the position. Companies are more concerned about how you will fit into the culture of the organization than they are about the technical skills you already have. They can easily teach you technical skills, but teaching you soft skills is much harder. Businesses are going to hire people who have the transferable skills they want, and the data supports this. For example, LinkedIn found that 57% of leaders reported that soft skills are more important than hard skills. If you are not communicating your transferable skills during your job search employers are not going to see how valuable you are.

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A good resume is not going to get you a job, but a bad resume can prevent you from being hired. At the heart of your job search is networking. Networking, not with the goal to meet as many people as possible, but with the goal of making real connections with industry professionals and learning about their careers. Only 3% of job candidates have a referral, so you immediately become a more exclusive candidate if you have one. But once you do hand over that resume it needs to be excellent. It needs to engage the reader and keep them reading. Because according to CareerBuilder, 40% of hiring managers spend less than 60 seconds looking at your resume. By using the right keywords and making your resume visually appealing, you can extend that reading time and increase your chance of getting an interview.

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Nature reported that in just 2 years the number of science postdocs alone grew by 150%. Universities are graduating huge numbers of PhDs every year and these highly trained PhDs end up taking postdoc positions because that is what they are ‘supposed to do’ next. But instead of the postdoc leading to a professorship or some other faculty position, PhDs are getting stuck in the postdoc phase. The study referenced above found that 10% of all postdocs have been a postdoc for more than 6 years. And recently, Phys.org reported that this is a trend that has been going on for the past 50 years. From 1960 to 2010 the number of people who spent their ENTIRE academic career as a supporting scientist, rather than a lead scientist, rose from 25% to 60%. That means the majority of PhDs in academia are getting stuck in the support role and are unable to secure a faculty position as a lead scientist.

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A bad resume can keep you from getting a position even if you do everything else right. Your resume is often the first written item you will show a potential employer, it’s your first impression. And first impressions are hard to break. Even when presented with facts that contract a first impression, a person will still believe their first impression over the facts (The University of Toronto). You must make the most of that first impression. But to even earn the opportunity to make a first impression your resume needs to stand out. The average corporate job posting attracts 250 resume submissions (Ere Media). And 80% of those applications will be rejected by applicant tracking software within seconds, never being seen by a person (The Financial Post). If your main strategy is submitting your resume via online job portals, your resume is probably just ending up in the reject pile. This method is a waste of the energy you have put into your resume. Instead, you need to network, get a referral, and give your resume directly to the hiring manager. With a referral and a high quality resume your chance of getting hired increases dramatically.

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More than 90% of Fortune 500 companies are using Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to screen candidates’ resumes (JobScan). And, ATS systems reject up to 80% of resumes in a matter of seconds (The Financial Post). It’s no wonder your non-tailored academic-style resume is not getting any response. But, even the best resume could be rejected by ATS. You have no idea what the employer has told the ATS to look for in candidates’ resumes. Even a perfect resume is not enough to get you a job. You need to network and generate referrals so that you can send your resume directly to a person. Candidates with a referral have a 40% better chance of getting hired (Quartz). But, even with a referral, a terrible resume will lead to a rejection. Bottom line, a perfect resume is not enough to get you a job, but a terrible resume is more than enough to get you a rejection.

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With a referral, your chances of getting hired increases to 53% and this number jumps to 91% if you are referred by someone in a director role (US News). By getting a referral, you increase your chances of getting hired by more than 50%. So, your number one job search priority should be networking. But, once you make the effort to put networking at the center of your job search strategy, you don’t want a terrible resume ruining all that hard work. Even with a referral, a terrible resume will lead to rejection. Your resume is the first thing that the hiring manager will see, so it must make a good impression. This is your chance to earn an interview, so make the most of it.

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Out of every 250 resumes, only 4-6 candidates will get an interview, on average (Inc). Without a resume that attracts attention from a recruiter or hiring manager, you’re never going to even get a foot in the door. Additionally, the average recruiter will only spend 6.25 seconds on each resume before coming to a decision (Forbes). Everything you put on the resume has to add value to your application and be relevant to the job you’re applying for. If your resume is filled with mundane and uninteresting information, the recruiter will skip it and move on to the next one in the pile.

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There are typically hundreds of applicants vying for the job you are applying for. Ere Media reported 250 resumes submitted per corporate job opening, but this number can be in the thousands when applying to top companies. And, before a hiring manager puts your application on the interview pile, she will review your cover letter. Her goal is to triage 95% of the applications in one sitting. It’s a tough situation: you feel you are perfect for the job but how will you distinguish yourself from the pack? The cover letter is the elevator pitch of your job application and you have to make your cover letter persuasive.

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Once you have built your professional network and gotten yourself a job referral, there will come a time when you hand over your resume to the hiring manager. Don’t waste all the effort of networking and building rapport by having a poorly written resume. Make the most of each bullet point by including the 3 key parts of a winning bullet point. Start by highlighting your transferable skills, follow with your technical skills, and end the bullet point with a clear industry-relevant result. Coupled with high-level networking, your results-driven resume bullet points will help you transition out of academia and into the industry position of your choice.

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It might seem that cover letters are a redundant time-waster in your job search process. Not including a well-written cover letter can cause your application to hit the garbage as incomplete or lazy before you’re even considered. Your cover letter is your sales pitch that synthesizes who you are, as a complement to your resume that shows what you can do. A well-crafted cover letter that follows these 5 steps can be the difference between landing your industry job, and missing out completely.

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Having a job search strategy is the only way a Life Science PhD will be successful in landing a top industry position. Without a strategy, their experience in academia merely translates to an entry-level job working for someone with half their qualifications. Getting a top job in industry means investing in an organized, consistent approach to prove you are worthy of the industry job you deserve. Here are 5 strategies that will help you transition into a top Life Science position in industry.

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Resume writing really is an art form, and just because you have a PhD doesn’t mean you automatically know how to sell yourself in two pages. Most PhDs fall into the same bad habits and lazy resume blunders as other job candidates because they don’t know how to market themselves like a business person. You need to translate your academic experience into results that have value to the specific job you’re applying for. Doing anything less is a mistake that should be avoided. Here are the 10 biggest industry resume mistakes PhDs make and how to avoid them.

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Emails are an effective tool to use in your industry job search and networking agenda. The problem is that many of them end up disregarded and ignored. The ones you send never get answered. If you want to get through to an industry professional, you need to show them respect and use proper email etiquette. This means keeping your email succinct and being complimentary. Showing value and building rapport. Personalizing and tailoring your emails to industry professionals in a way that will guarantee you get a reply. Here are 5 ways to make sure your email doesn’t end up in the recycling bin.

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Your technical skills will not be the deciding factor when it comes to getting an industry job. Hiring managers will look for candidates with not only the scientific acumen, but also the business skills and motivation that is needed for industry. Build this credibility by breaking free from the lab bench and honing these transferable skills. Get to know what employers want. Work on effectively communicating your work in various mediums, start collaborations with scientists outside of your lab and build a network of industry professionals. Diversify your resume and show that you are more than your degree. Here are 5 ways PhDs can build industry credibility while in academia.

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With thousands of other PhDs competing for the same industry job openings, the days of uploading a generic resume online for multiple positions are over. An industry resume needs to be tailored for each position you apply for and formatted to be approved by both electronic and human screening practices. Applicant Tracking Systems Software filters out the majority of resumes it finds for simple and correctable formatting and content errors. Adjusting your resume with these simple corrections will ensure your resume has the best chance of being seen directly by the hiring manager or recruiter.

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Transitioning from academia to industry requires transitioning your resume along with you. You will need to trade in your academic CV for a focused industry resume. What may have been relevant in an academic setting may make you invisible when it comes to competing for an industry job. Tailoring your resume with these five specific sections will transform it into an effective working document that will ensure that hiring managers and recruiters get the information they want.

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Job searching requires strategy, self-control and self-motivation in the face of discouragement, setbacks and self-criticism. It’s not an easy process. A recent After College Career Insight Survey found that only 13% of graduate students have a job lined up before graduation while 74% do not have a job lined up at graduation. A study conducted by the University of Minnesota followed and analyzed over 70 job seekers who had high levels of expertise in their fields and found that 51% of them couldn’t face repetitive rejection. Here’s how to manage frustration during your career search and stay motivated long enough to get the job you want.

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According to Quint Careers, only 5% of job seekers obtain jobs through online advertisements. Only 15-20% of all available jobs are ever publicly advertised in any medium. Do you now understand how much time you’re wasting by only uploading resumes to jobs you see online? Do you now see how much you’re embarrassing yourself by continuing to do this? Your time is too precious to waste on 5% odds. Why not direct your attention to the other 95%? Here are 3 ways to redesign your job search strategy for a smooth transition into industry.

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PhDs face an incredible challenge when it comes to securing jobs. Academia cannot absorb all the graduates that are passing through. On top of this, many PhDs are either unable or unwilling to transition into an industry position. On the other hand, there is an inaccurate image of PhDs from industry. Many companies in industry believe that a PhD’s knowledge base is too specialized. They believe that PhDs have little ability to be multidisciplinary and are trained only for research-type positions. There is a mutual ignorance and mistrust. As a result, if you want a job in industry, you must diversify your job search. You must make lateral moves that increase your visibility. You must be willing to keep your options open and seize new opportunities when they arise. Here’s how.

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Segment every part of your job search.

Each person you interact with–whether it be a reference, hiring manager, or recruiter–should be treated as a separate audience. Your goal is to engage with these people in whichever way benefits them the best. If you want to get a job over other candidates, you must start tailoring your approach, messages, and resumes to make things as easy as possible for them, now you. Here’s how.

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Most PhDs are taught 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. On and on.

But, when it comes to creating a strong industry résumé for a PhD job, less is more. Adding the wrong things or too many things to your résumé will keep you from getting the industry job you want. A better strategy is to simplify your industry résumé down to only the things that industry hiring managers and recruiters actually want to see. Here are 7 things smart PhDs like you should remove from your industry résumé.

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The only way to get industry employers to notice you is to do things differently. Instead of trying to be the best needle in a haystack, try to get as far away from the haystack as possible. Stop trying to force your way through the crowd to get noticed. This strategy will never work. A better strategy is to completely differentiate you from your peers. Here are 7 things you can do to differentiate yourself from other PhDs and industry employers will hand pick you for open positions.

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