5 Important Items PhDs Leave Out Of Their Resume

The day I finished my PhD was bittersweet.

I was beyond excited to be finished and to have accomplished something that I had wanted since I was a child.

But, when I looked toward the future, I was lost. 

What could I do next?

I did not want to stay in academia or work in a lab anymore, it just wasn’t for me.

But, I had no idea how to get a job.

Seriously, it was a huge mystery, how did people do this?

I knew a LOT about the chemistry project I had just spent years researching, but I knew absolutely nothing about how to get a job.

If I wanted a future outside of academia, I knew I had to figure out what jobs were available to me and how I could get them. 

I’d earned a PhD, surely I could learn how to get a job?

So, I started learning.

I developed a job search strategy that involved tons of networking, but I also spent quite a bit of time on my resume.

I went from thinking that my resume was just a boring piece of paper to understanding that it is an essential part of my job search strategy. 

My resume became a place for me to prove that I was the perfect job candidate.

Now, once I was recommended for a position, I had an excellent resume to follow up with.

A resume that I was confident would earn me an interview.

Why Your Resume Is Not Just A Formality

Glassdoor reported that out of every 250 resumes, only 4-6 candidates will get an interview.

That means, at least 244 out of 250 job candidates will be rejected, based on their resume alone.

With a poor resume, you will never make it past a hiring manager’s initial screening.

With a bad resume, you will never move forward to a phone screen or interview.

And, you have to show your value in your resume very quickly.

A study by The Ladders found that recruiters spend an average of just 6 seconds looking at a resume.

6 seconds!

Your resume must clearly demonstrate that you are the right candidate for the position, or you will go straight into the reject pile.

Everything that you put on the resume has to add value to your application and be relevant to the job you’re applying for.

It’s up to you to prove that you are the best candidate.

5 Features To Include In Your PhD-Level Resume

If you have been sending out resume after resume and not getting any response, you are clearly doing something wrong.

Are you networking and generating referrals?

Do you have a persuasive cover letter?

If you are networking and sending your resume to the recruiter or hiring manager via your referral, and still not getting any response, the problem is likely your resume.

Your resume is your first impression, so make it a good one.

Here are 5 features many PhDs forget to include in their resume…

1. Tailor your career experience to the specific job.

Of course, your resume will have a section that details your work experience.

But, your work experience is more than a list of the duties that you performed in each role.

This section allows your potential employer to get a sense of how your experience will fit into the role they are trying to fill.

You should tailor your experience to highlight the skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for.

As a PhD or postdoc, you have a wide variety of experiences to draw upon and make relevant to the industry position you want.

Use your transferable skills and a quantitative result to make your PhD or postdoc experience relevant to the industry position.

Your resume will look slightly different for every position that you apply for.

This is how you will show your potential employer that you are a worthy candidate.

2. Include all relevant credentials and awards.

Most PhDs have no problem including their academic accolades on their resume.

But, are you including other credentials or awards you have received in your resume as well?

For example, have you taken any online courses?

Do you have any special certifications in specific lab techniques?

You should include credentials like this on your resume.

Another area that is often neglected is the hobbies section of your resume.

This is not just a superfluous section.

This is where you can demonstrate that you are well-rounded, are a leader, and are a team player.

Include hobbies and sports that highlight your teamwork and leadership skills.

Showing a potential employer that you are part of a team demonstrates that you can work well with others and will be a positive addition to a workplace environment.

Also, include any volunteer or community organizing you are a part of.

Being a community volunteer demonstrates initiative and leadership.

Leadership skills are particularly useful if you’re applying for a management position.

While it is a great idea to include relevant accomplishments and credentials in your resume, this does not mean that you should list all your publications.

Listing your publications on your industry resume is a surefire way to have your resume discarded.

3. Add links to your professional content.

You should include links to your website, articles you have written, or any other professional online web presence you have.

If your resume has peaked the employer’s interest, these links will give them a place to learn more about you.

If you don’t have any relevant web links to add, then it’s time to generate some.

A great way to do this is to create your own professional website.

There are many free web hosting sites that are easy to use.

Here, you can create an online resume where you can expand into more detail than is possible on your 2-page industry resume.

A professional website or links to your online content show that you are involved in your professional community. 

This is important, because demonstrating that you are an active part of your professional network is a great way to build rapport.

On this same note, ensure that every part of your online presence is professional, consistent, and aligns with your overall job search goals.

4. Use keywords found in the job posting.

Many companies use applicant tracking software to screen resumes.

This software rates submitted resumes and will reject a large portion of resumes before they are even seen by a person.

The specific criteria the software uses to rate candidates is unique to each company, but they all rate resumes based on keywords.

Therefore, you need to have a look at the top keywords used in the job descriptions and ensure they are in your resume.

You should insert the keywords several times throughout your resume so that they naturally blend into the content.

You can use a software like Wordle or Word Cloud to figure out which keywords are being used most frequently in the types of jobs you are searching for.

Using keywords in your resume is important even if you have been executing your job search strategy well and have an internal referral.

These keywords represent what the company is looking for in a job candidate.

When the hiring manager is reading your resume, they will be looking for these keywords to decide if you are the right person to call in for an interview.

5. Ditch the crowded layout for lots of white space.

As a PhD, you have many accomplishments.

You have many advantages over other job candidates, but that does not mean that you need to list every single accolade you have in your resume.

Your industry resume should be short and sweet.

It should highlight the accomplishments that your potential employer will care about the most.

And, it’s important that you don’t try to squeeze too much information into your short industry resume, because that will make it look crowded.

It will look messy and crowded if you do not leave enough white space.

Lots of white space and a clean, crisp layout will make your resume look professional and increase your chance of getting an interview.

Increase your chances of getting an interview by writing a professional resume. Don’t let a bad resume keep you from getting the industry position you want. By tailoring your resume to the job, including your relevant credentials, adding links to your professional content, using the right keywords, and ditching the crowded layout, you’ll be putting your best foot forward in every job application. Having a good resume is an essential part of a successful job search strategy.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

Book a Transition Call
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly
Jeanette McConnell, PhD
Jeanette McConnell, PhD

Jeanette is a chemistry PhD turned science communication enthusiast. During her PhD she realized that her favorite part about research wasn’t actually doing research, but rather talking and writing about it. So, she has channeled her passion for discovery into teaching and writing about science. When she isn’t talking someone’s ear off about her latest scientific obsession, you’ll find her on the soccer field or reading a good sci-fi novel.

Similar Articles

4 Powerful Ways To Communicate Your PhD Value To Industry Employers

4 Powerful Ways To Communicate Your PhD Value To Industry Employers

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

What’s the biggest gap that you have when it comes to transitioning into industry? How do you communicate your value? This is a common question I like to ask PhDs. And, very often, I get the following answer:  Well, I’m not sure how to position myself for industry. What this actually means is that you don’t know how to communicate your value to potential employers.  You probably only know how to talk about your skills in academic terms. You only know how to talk to other academics, but industry employees don’t really care for that type of language. This leaves…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 16th 2021

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 16th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 9th 2021

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 9th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 2nd 2021

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, October 2nd 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 25th 2021

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 25th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 18th 2021

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 18th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 11th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 11th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

20 Measurable Results That Any PhD Should Add To Their Industry Resume

20 Measurable Results That Any PhD Should Add To Their Industry Resume

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

By the end of my PhD studies, I found myself in a very bad place.  I knew I wanted to leave academia, but I didn’t know how to set up an industry job search strategy. The only thing I could think of was uploading resumes online.  I kept doing that, but I never heard back from employers. I knew there was another world out there, but I had no idea how to crack into it. Eventually, I became convinced that I had no value. That my PhD was useless. And I lost all my motivation. I had undervalued myself so…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 4th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, September 4th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Top Industry Career eBooks

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the top 20 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.