Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist
Image of Isaiah Hankel, PhD, sitting in an armchair in front of a light blue background

Join Isaiah as he explores the benefits of a functional resume for PhDs plus a few tips to make yours stand out to employers.

Here’s a quick rundown of this week’s episode…

  • First, Isaiah takes a look at the functional resume format and explains why it’s superior for PhDs with limited professional experience
  • Next, he directs attention to 3 strategies that a functional resume needs to apply to be successful
  • Finally, Isaiah reviews the architecture of a finished functional resume from top to bottom

From This Week’s Show…

A Functional Resume Highlights The Quality Of Your Experience Not The Quantity

Many PhDs mistake resumes for CVs – they chronologically list their work experience, achievements, and skills, being sure not to leave out a single detail.

But a chronological resume that’s simultaneously irrelevant and cramped isn’t going to land you an industry job. You have to change how you present your experience.

This is where the functional resume comes in.

Word Cloud Tools Help You Frame The Skills You Have In Words That Employers Are Looking For

A functional resume can take your one sad section of Graduate Research Assistant or Postdoctoral Fellow experience and turn it into 3 major sections that highlight your relevant skills and abilities.

The key to writing an effective functional resume is to first identify your target position.

Then you want to make sure you tailor every resume to the job you’re applying for.

The easiest way to do this is to copy the text from a job posting and paste it into a word cloud. This tool shows you at a glance which words are used the most in the posting.

For instance, an opening for a Data Scientist position will likely have “data analysis” and perhaps “Python” as frequently occurring words. A word cloud will reveal it also uses “collaboration” and “stakeholder communication.”

These frequently used words must be included on your resume.

With Seconds To Impress Your Employer, Prioritize Skills Over Titles

Next, you’ll want to deprioritize your academic titles.

When you’ve spent the better half of a decade pursuing a PhD, it’s hard not to put it front and center on your resume.

And you should be proud of this incredible achievement. But you should also be proud of the skills and experiences that you achieved while getting your PhD. Especially the transferable ones.

In a functional resume, you’ll want to replace your academic job titles with skills that are relevant to the job. A few examples might be “Project Management Skills,” “Research and Analysis Expertise,” or “Expert Trainer.”

Then, underneath each of these new skill-based headers, you’ll write “Gained as a Graduate Research Assistant at XYZ University”.

On a functional format, you won’t mention dates. When you gained experience doesn’t really matter. It’s the experiences themselvs that you want to highlight.

You don’t want dates to be the thing that industry employers focus on, especially when your dates will make no sense to them. 5 years at one university? A decade at multiple universities? A gap?

Remember, most industry gatekeepers do not have higher education degrees. Tailor your resume to your audience, not your expertise.

** for the full podcast, check out the audio player above.

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