5 New Rules That Will Get Your Resume Noticed

The day I finished my thesis should have been one of my happiest, but I remember it being filled with mixed emotions.

Although I was relieved that my thesis was finished, I was completely unsure of what lay ahead of me.

My feelings of joy were quickly replaced by dread.

I had accomplished something huge, but… now what?

I remember thinking to myself, “Today, I officially became a doctor and today, I officially became unemployed.”

Talk about mixed emotions.

So, mere hours after submitting, I was at the computer again, updating my resume.

But, I hadn’t written a resume since just after high school.

To say that my resume style was outdated is an understatement.

After adding my PhD experience, it ended up looking like weird a mixture of a resume you would submit for working at a coffee shop and an academic CV.

Unsurprisingly, I never heard anything back from the few places I submitted this terrible resume.

After the silence that my online applications were met with, I started doing my research to figure out what the problem was.

And, woah — I had been executing my job search totally wrong.

I started networking, updated my LinkedIn profile, and completely revamped my resume.

Instead of an awkward and outdated CV, I had a concise results-driven industry resume to hand over to a connection when the time was right.

Why You Must Write A Modern, Powerful Resume

First of all, networking should be at the core of your job search.

Building up your professional network with the goal of generating referrals is the best way to land an industry position.

According to a study by the Society For Human Resource Management, just 1% of job applicants are hired.

But, your chances of getting hired are completely transformed when you have a referral.

US News reported that with a referral, your chances of getting hired increase to 53% and this number jumps to 91% if you are referred by someone in a director role.

By getting a referral, you increase you 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.

5 New Rules For Your Industry Resume

Don’t be lazy and submit a non-tailored, out-of-date resume that will never get you hired.

You are a PhD.

You are an expert in your field, and a master of learning.

Do your research and learn what a modern industry resume needs to look like.

Here are 5 new rules for PhD resumes…

1. It’s not a CV.

Your industry resume needs to be quite a bit different from an academic CV.

At most, you want your industry resume to be 2 pages long.

No employer is going to look beyond 2 pages to decide if you are worthy of an interview.

Crafting a clear 2-page resume demonstrates that you are able to communicate effectively and concisely, both of which are important in industry.

This means that your resume should not detail every single accomplishment you have ever had.

Only the accolades and accomplishments that are relevant to the job you are applying for should be included.

Tailoring your resume to the job will clearly demonstrate that you have the right expertise and experience for the job.

Lastly, your industry resume should not contain a list of your publications.

In academia, your publications define you, but in industry, they matter much, much less.

Your future employer does not want to see a complete bibliography of all your publications.

2. Your professional summary goes at the top.

The very top of your resume is the first place where a hiring manager is going to look.

You want this section to very clearly indicate that you are an outstanding job candidate.

Putting an objective statement, your education, or your publications at the top does not demonstrate that you are an industry-ready PhD.

Long gone are the days of the objective statement, especially for PhDs.

Instead, at the very top of your resume, you should have your professional summary.

This 3-bullet point section highlights your most relevant skills and accomplishments in a way that persuades the hiring manager you deserve an interview.

Each of these 3 bullet points has a specific purpose.

The first one is your elevator pitch.

You must show the experience and results you have achieved that make you a perfect fit for the job.

The second is your technical expertise.

As a PhD, you have a tremendous amount of technical expertise. It is here where you highlight the most relevant skills you have.

The third is your most important transferable skill.

In industry, it takes more than technical know-how to be successful. You need the soft skills to match.

Show your employer that you have the necessary transferable skills to be an asset to their company.

3. Only the first 10-25% of resumes submitted are read.

On average, recruiters and hiring managers only look at the first 10-25% of the resumes that are submitted.

This is why networking and generating referrals is essential.

With a referral, you will often find out about positions that are unadvertised, or learn about positions before they are advertised.

Plus, with a referral, you can give your resume directly to a person, not submit it into the abyss of an online job portal to be filtered out by applicant tracking software.

If you are uploading your resume without a referral, then you should be submitting within the first few days that the job posting is up.

Otherwise, your resume is probable not even going to be looked at — by software or a human.

Realistically, it’s very difficult to know right away when a job is posted, unless you are networking.

You can use keyword alerts to help you stay on top of new job advertisements, but this is not a comprehensive fix.

The best way to learn about job opportunities early, and avoid applicant tracking software, is with a referral. And, to get a referral, you must be networking.

4. Lead with transferable skills, not action words.

Putting creative action words into your resume is not impressing anyone.

Using words like “maximized” or “spearheaded” is not going to convince someone to hire you for a PhD-level job.

You need more than fancy words in your bullet points. You need substance.

You need to show that you have the right skills for the job.

Hiring managers know you have a PhD, so they know you have the technical skills, but they don’t know if you have the necessary transferable skills to succeed in industry.

Can you work as part of a team?

Do you have leadership skills?

Do you have market knowledge?

Have you used any of that company’s products before?

Do you understand the market landscape?

Do you understand current industry trends?

Communicating that you have these transferable skills is so important, that every single one of your bullet points should start with a transferable skill.

As a PhD, you have many transferable skills that are desired in industry.

If you’re not sure what a transferable skills is or what skills you have, check out this transferable skills ebook for more information.

5. Results are what matter most.

Employers want to see more than a list of the skills you have.

They need to see how you can use these skills — what results have you achieved?

And, your results need to be quantitative.

Eye-tracking studies have shown that when employers are skimming a resume, their eyes stop at numbers.

Including numbers will keep the hiring manager reading your resume for a longer time.

This increase in read-time will increase the chances that they will see something that makes them want to bring you in for an interview.

Employers spend only 5-7 seconds skimming a resume, so any extra time you can earn is important.

Include a result at the end of every bullet point and always make this result numerical.

It could be the number of publications you have, the number of conferences you’ve presented at, the amount of grant funding you have earned, the number of collaborations you have, how many researchers you’ve managed… anything with a number.

Results are what matter in industry, and a results-driven resume demonstrates that you are a PhD ready to transition from academia into industry.

Your resume is more than a list of your qualifications. Your resume is where you must persuade the hiring manager that you deserve an interview. And, to do this, you must have a modern industry-style resume. Your industry resume is not a CV. It should have a professional summary at the top. To get read, it needs to be in the first 10-25% of resumes submitted. You should write bullet points that lead with transferable skills, not action word. And, every single bullet point should end with a quantitative result. Don’t let a bad resume ruin all the hard work you have done through networking and getting referrals. Follow these 5 new rules for PhD resumes.

To learn more about 5 New Rules That Will Get Your Resume Noticed, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.

Join Cheeky Scientist Association
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

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, April 10th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, April 10th 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.…

The (Revised) Fundamentals Of A PhD Job Search

The (Revised) Fundamentals Of A PhD Job Search

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

We’ve seen dramatic changes in the job market since the start of 2020; the fundamentals are changing. From the first wave of lockdowns to the mid-year hiring boom and then the second wave of lockdowns, and now –  the vaccine rollout.  We’ve observed the highest month of PhD hiring ever since we started tracking PhD hiring nearly a decade ago.  The month was November, 2020.  But this boom was followed by an 81% drop in PhD hiring.  And now, with a lot of uncertainty around future corporate tax rates in many countries, we are seeing PhD hiring stagnate in this…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, April 3rd 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, April 3rd 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.…

How To Tell Your PhD Story And Use It To Sell Yourself In Industry

How To Tell Your PhD Story And Use It To Sell Yourself In Industry

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

You were so excited to take charge of your future and transition out of academia.  You hired an expert to craft the perfect resume. You lined up interviews, and the hiring managers seemed impressed. You felt confident. Then came the question… “And why do you want to leave academia?” You figured the answer was obvious. Doesn’t everyone already know academia isn’t the most financially rewarding path—especially after the investment you made in a PhD? “But what is it about this job in particular that makes you want to take the leap? Are you just looking for a better salary?” That’s…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, March 27th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, March 27th 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, March 20th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, March 20th 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.…

Understanding Top PhD Jobs In Altac Fields Is Not Easy, But This Will Help

Understanding Top PhD Jobs In Altac Fields Is Not Easy, But This Will Help

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

A repeated misconception that plagues PhDs when faced with career choices is that their doctorate could be a liability in the job market.  Career counselors are still telling doctoral students that a PhD will make companies view them as overqualified or too independent, instead of guiding them to the top PhD jobs available.  These advisors will tell you that cultivating strong professional relationships, attending networking events, and relying on your mentors are the best options to find a rewarding career post-graduation.  However, years spent doing research prepare you for almost any strategic role in modern industry. Another misconception that may…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, March 13th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, March 13th 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.…

If Your Resume’s Been Rejected 20 Times Or More It’s Probably Missing these 5 Things

If Your Resume’s Been Rejected 20 Times Or More It’s Probably Missing these 5 Things

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Here is the funny thing that most PhDs don’t understand - your PhD is incredibly valuable and so are you, BUT you are not above the job search process. You and your PhD don’t give you a free pass to not have to learn to speak the language of industry, to not have to follow up, to not have to learn industry buzzwords and transferable skills; to not have to practice behavioral questions, on and on. Being smart, proven, or successful in one area does not make you any of those things in another area. Get over yourself. Otherwise, you…

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.