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 shares what you can do to address gaps in your resume and changes in your career trajectory.

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

  • First, Isaiah breaks down why your resume needs to be a coherent story, not just a list of accomplishments and experience
  • Next, he considers the unique challenge of adapting your resume when there’s a transition in your career trajectory
  • Finally, Isaiah lists the ways you can deal with this gracefully and create a consistent, compelling resume

From This Week’s Show…

Much like a novel, your resume must tell a good story to receive recognition. You have mere seconds to capture the attention of a hiring manager. If your resume isn’t a coherent story of clear, long-standing goals and consistent pursuits, it may result in confusion, and ultimately, send your resume packing.

For some PhDs, continuity and consistency isn’t a problem. But what if you have to change directions, or your PhD doesn’t reflect your current career goals? Maybe you’ve become unexpectedly unemployed or decided to focus on family for a while. No matter the reason, during times of transition, self-worth can take a blow. That’s because it forces you to alter the one common thread that has woven together your career thus far: your professional narrative.

Your narrative is what provides purpose to your professional pursuits – it’s what drives you to pursue a particular field of study or get a certain degree; it also determines which career path you choose to go down. If your career narrative has changed – whether it be forced or voluntary – know that it’s not the end of the world. People change directions or start over all the time.

Functional Resumes Shift The Focus Away From Gaps In Your Employment

The key is to keep with the same consistent message throughout your resume. If you have a gap in your work history, use a resume format that focuses on your skills and experience instead of your work timeline. The functional resume format works best for this. To start, list your work experience under bolded headings such as “Project Management,” “Research and Analysis,” or “Leadership.” Underneath each heading, list the job titles you held while developing these skills. Following this, include 3 to 5 concise bullets that highlight your transferable and technical skills. By highlighting your skills in this way, you’ll take the focus off any meaningless employment gaps you may have.

However, if you feel like the gap is significant enough or you’d rather address the elephant in the room, you can add activities that you pursued during this time. Say you volunteered at a local animal shelter or completed a few online certifications that expand your skill set – include these under your work experience or education. Employers love to see people that are interested in growing as a person.

Your Resume’s Focus Should Be The Job You Want, Not Positions You’ve Held

The other challenge that PhDs face is a complete career 180. Perhaps you hold a PhD in engineering but realized towards the end of your PhD that your true passion lies in the life sciences. Or maybe you have an industry job in research and development, but now you think your skills would be better utilized in management consulting.

In either scenario, what’s important is that, like a good story, everything you include on your resume points towards one common goal – the climax of the story, if you will.

To create this consistency, clearly state the job you’re seeking in your professional summary. And not just “I want a job as an XYZ.” Include the job title in a sentence that highlights your relevant skills and answers the question “Who are you?”

For instance, if you’re applying for a project management position, you could write “An adaptive leader with 3 years of experience in project management resulting in 4 primary publications.” 

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

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