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11 Ways To Revamp Your Resume For The Post-Vaccine Job Market

Most PhDs think that they can get hired overnight once they start uploading their resume. 

Unfortunately, this is just not true. 

As an example, Irene Minkina, PhD, a member of our Cheeky Scientist Association, was applying for 5 months before she made progress. Irene uploaded 25 total resumes, took 6 writing tests, and had 6 total interviews. 

 PhDs who do not have any career training often have to load more than 200 resumes before they get an interview. 

This just shows that a bad resume can keep you from getting a job and a good resume is not enough to get you a job. 

To get your resume into the hands of a hiring manager in industry, you must go above and beyond when it comes to creating your resume. 

Importantly, your resume must be current. 

You cannot use a resume that was working last year because what companies need this year is different. 

This is especially true now, as industry is still adapting to the coronavirus pandemic and starting to adapt to the rollout of the first coronavirus vaccines. 

Have you revamped your resume for the post-vaccine job market? If not, now is the time to do so. 

How Important Is Your Resume In Your Job Search?

A recent report showed that 75% of resumes are rejected before they even get into the hands of a hiring manager. And the fate of the remaining 25% are decided in the blink of an eye. Literally.

Eye tracking studies revealed that recruiters only spend about 7 seconds going through your resume!

So, how can you bypass these cuts and successfully land yourself an interview?

Industry job searches unlike academia— where less is more— don’t rely on the size of your CV. Industry hiring managers are not looking for a detailed chronological description of your duties or your work history. 

Don’t take your resume to be a peer-reviewed journal article! 

Your resume should be a marketing document, a powerful two-sided sheet that can sell you well to the company.  

So, let’s revive your resume and land you an interview, shall we?

How To Revive Your Resume?

1. WRITE your resume 

It is hard to write a resume.

It is not fun.

This is why you need to sit down and take the time to make the best resume possible. 

So many PhDs sink into the comfort of what they are used to doing, and they don’t sit there in the discomfort of writing their resume. Writing a resume is like trying to write your first book. 

Similarly, the reason writing a resume is painful is because it forces you to think about things in a different way. You have to actually think about the results that you have achieved. 

It is easy to just blank out and say, “I haven’t achieved any results!” 

But, you have. Don’t blame imposter syndrome. You have achieved results.

Your resume should tell a story: that you are the perfect candidate for the position at hand. 

Every resume has to be targeted to an individual position. 

An easy way out there is to template your resume for a particular role or industry. In doing so, all you need to do in the future is to change some of the keywords to match the job description.

2. Is your resume up-to-date?

You need to keep your resume up-to-date. 

Your resume is going to stay with you. Even though it is a two-page document you need to keep it up-to-date. 

When I got into industry, I was able to get a promotion within six months. And the only reason I was able to do that is because I documented my progress at that company and the results I was achieving, which I leveraged to get myself a promotion. I was making over a hundred thousand dollars within six months in industry because I understood the pain of uploading resumes for months before I got my first job.

3. Take time to brainstorm results/achievements

Brainstorm all the results that you have achieved. 

They can start as general results – experimental results, journal papers, and reviews, presentations, posters, funding systems you have used, protocols, lesson plans, etc. These are valuable systems. 

Methodologies are very valuable in industry because they allow a business to scale.  If you can create a better system, a better way of doing something, you will be seen as very valuable. 

This exercise is painful. It is supposed to be hard. It is easy to cop out to say, Oh, I don’t have any results, but YOU DO!

By quantifying your results, you prove that you can deliver, period. It shows that you understand the importance of results and that is the language of industry.

4. Why should the company hire you?

Sit down and make a list of how you have made or how will you make the company money.

What do you do right now that is making the company money? And then you need to tie those together to the results that you would put on your resume. 

Think of ways you can help increase the company’s sales and will reduce its expenses. 

How have you done this in your current situation, or in your lab? 

How and what results have you achieved that helped the lab make money? 

Do you have a data point on a grant that got funded? 

Are you doing something for the department that has helped raise funds in any way? 

If so, you need to put these down on paper. 

PhDs are often misled to think that all a company cares about is generating revenue! It is not about just that – industry works on exchanging values, as companies want to grow constantly. 

So, if you want to get into a position in industry and you want that company to continue to pay you more and continue to grow, you ought to be on board with them in getting more sales, increased profits, and reduced expenses.

Universities are in such trouble right now because they’re not growing. They are a business and they’ve been running their business very poorly. They’ve only been surviving on cheap labor of post-docs, PhDs, and adjuncts. And that’s why they’re failing. 

5. Less can be more

PhD resumes should only be one-to-two pages in total; with lots of white space! 

Academia brainwashes you to add as much information as possible, cramming information into narrowed margins and decreasing the line spacing. Here’s the news flash – you should only present crucial, job-relevant information

Most of the hiring managers/recruiters do not have PhD or technical knowledge. They do not want to see a lot of clutter on a resume. Instead, they want to see a lot of white space. They know you have a PhD and  more education. 

They know you can understand complex information and you can be trained on the job and on complex topics. 

But can you explain things in simple terms to different audiences? Can you show a higher level of organization through your resume? 

You have to use lots of white space. You don’t want it to be cluttered. 

You should not try to fit as much information as possible into the resume. Follow the 3Ss – standard margins, standard spacing, and standard fonts. 

6. Do you have these sections, and are they in the right order?

So, you are set to write your resume. Now, what sections should you actually add? 

There should be at least six sections in your resume. 

Your contact information at the top. It is highly recommended to put a phone number in your contact information, a phone you will actually answer, along with your email, and your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn URL shouldn’t have a bunch of characters at the end, go into LinkedIn, adjust your settings, and personalize your URL. And, remember to keep it short! 

Next – no objective statement that will make you look a hundred years old. Instead, write a professional summary including your three biggest career highlights (preferably in two lines, three at the most per highlight) each of those as bullet points. 

80% of an employer’s time is spent on the top one-third of your resume, it’s called the visual center, which is really just your professional summary of the resume. 

Then, comes your work experience. Now, most of you are going to have only academic job titles. If an academic title is what you have as your work experience, then I want you to put a career that you had for a large company as the first experience. Even if it was a restaurant, or in retail; something that you did as a summer job, just to show them that you have had a job with a big brand and have done something client-facing. 

The fourth section is education. You can put your PhD and your master’s degree, but not more than two. You are not going back to your high school diploma. 

Fifth – skills section. This is where you can put your technical skills in different columns but don’t add more than five bullets per column and make them relevant. 

Next is the certifications. Only include certifications that are relevant to the job at hand. It could be anything ranging from the medical devices, the instruments, the research, or reagents that you have used, or the methods, the techniques that you know, the interdisciplinary techniques that you have used in the field and are relevant to the position. 

Finally, add honors, awards, and hobbies.  Put your honors and your awards in there. Of course, your academic ones are fine, but your last line should be a volunteer experience, preferably something that is non-academic. It could be a hobby, sport that you volunteered to coach, or something you did with a large volunteer organization like the Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity. 

Ideally, the best case scenario to conclude your resume is to have a volunteer experience, and below it, you have a hobby, something you enjoy doing that shows that you’re well-rounded, and you’re not just a lab rat or a bookworm. 

7. Highlight your skills, not your academic titles

Number seven, your skills are more important than your academic titles. 

Your skills and how they fit the job at hand are more important than your publications. 

I could not fathom not putting my publications on my resume when I learned this. But, when I looked at the data, I found that companies don’t care about publications, especially not in terms of putting a work cited section on your resume. 

If you really care about it,  you can put it in one of your bullet points. Say I did X, Y, Z resulting in three publications, including a nature publication. 

If working in academia is all the experience you have got, then a functional resume would be an ideal way to grab the recruiters’ attention. It has been around for decades, and helps recruiters to find the relevant information as quickly as possible. The hiring manager wants to know if you are a good fit, and this format helps them assess that on the go. 

Visit, to look at our resources, our blogs and look up the functional resume format. It will change your entire job search. The number of responses you’ll get as soon as you make that change will push you forward to get you past that sticking point in your job search.

8. The three-point bullet strategy

Break down your skills, experiences, and results into three bullet points.

This is our proprietary methodology here. We share it very openly now and it works. 

It is the most important thing that you can do next to get your resume down to two pages with lots of white space while having the right format, and the right sections.

Every bullet point needs to start with a transferable skill. 

It really comes down to your ability to communicate your transferable skills. The number one reason for not getting hired is the lack of transferable skills on your resume. 

One of the three largest management consulting firms in the world found that the two skills that are at a in deficit in industry right now are research and analysis! These are transferable skills – the broader skills that give rise to the little niche technical skills.

Dow Chemical did a big survey of lots of different employers, asking them what new PhDs were lacking after they were hired. What did they find out? 

PhDs lacked an understanding of industry and soft skills.

These are the skills the hiring managers and recruiters (without a PhD) are going to look for in your resume.

Starting with a transferable skill, then a technical skill and ending with a quantified result, your bullets will be easy to read and will certainly catch the recruiter’s attention!

9. Write more about your transferable skills than your technical skills

It all comes down to your transferable skills, and how well you can demonstrate them.

There are three main types of transferable skills: self-oriented, systems-oriented, and team-oriented. 

They trend with the topics that are in the media very often. 

So, right now while the economy is down, there is a lot of risk present within the workforce. Therefore, risk mitigation, risk management, and change management are very important skills to highlight. You have all of those skills. You have had to manage the risk in the classroom or your lab. You have had to manage change. 

Technical literacy is another skill; it comes down to knowing how to speak the language of industry.  Words like regulatory acumen or work ethic are also highly desired transferable skills. 

Remember to add one point under each skill, always aligning it with the current scenario. 

As there is a lot of workforce decentralization: a lot of training and project management are now done virtually. So, virtual project management, virtual mentorship, and virtual mentoring are some of the other common keywords that will catch the recruiter’s eye!

10. Hack the system by finding the right keywords with a wordcloud

How do you target every individual resume for each open position? 

Go to the job posting, read through it, and highlight the skills – transferable and technical, that are used over and over again. Count them, rank them on the ones that are used the most to the least, take the ones that are used the most, and put them in your resume. 

Now, there is a way to do this effortlessly. This is another tip from Cheeky Scientist – copy and paste all of the text from a job posting and put it into a word cloud, all for free. 

The result generated will give you a very strong understanding of the skills that they’re looking for in that role in industry. 

The biggest skills in the word cloud are the ones that matter the most. Take out the top five or ten, and put them throughout your resume strategically in the bullet points under each experience.

11. Use your resume to control the interview conversation

Your resume should set you up for success. 

You should be able to use your resume as your reference during a phone screen or interview.

So, think about the interview questions you will be asked. The questions can be categorized into four genres – credibility, opinion, behavioral, and competencies. 

When they say, tell me a little bit about yourself, which they will do from the phone screen stage onwards, they mean, show me where and how this matches up with what’s on your resume

They will ask you to address the bullet points you wrote. 

So, highlight the things you want to talk about in the interview. Make them easy to find in your resume, and do a hint of bolding or even underlining so that their eyes jump to it. And then talk about them. 

Make sure you talk about your leadership style, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your core competencies. 

Refer to your resume, during the interview. That just shows that you are aligned. Use your resume as your backup or reference material.

Even though you wrote your resume yourself, it makes you a much stronger candidate when you are organized. And when you use your resume to set up your interviews for success they are going to give you a scenario. 

Think about setting yourself up for success in the interview in advance, particularly, in terms of those four interview question types – credibility, opinion, behavioral, and competency. 

Concluding Remarks

The best resume practices presented in this article will help you revive your resume for the post-vaccination job market. With the changing economy and the looming uncertainty, PhDs should be able to show their adaptability by revamping their resumes to match the need of the hour.  This is easily done by constantly updating your resume, matching the resume with the keywords present in the job descriptions, and highlighting how you could potentially add value to their company. The most important factors to include are points 1-4. You also need to ensure that you are adding keywords to your resume and that your resume sets you up for a successful interview. Increase your chances by tailoring a professional resume and show your value as a PhD.

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.

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Dr. Isaiah Hankel is the Founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist. His articles, podcasts and trainings are consumed annually by 3 million PhDs in 152 different countries. He has helped PhDs transition into top companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Intel, Dow Chemical, BASF, Merck, Genentech, Home Depot, Nestle, Hilton, SpaceX, Tesla, Syngenta, the CDC, UN and Ford Foundation.

Dr. Hankel has published three bestselling books and his latest book, The Power of a PhD, debuted on the Barnes & Noble bestseller list. His methods for getting PhDs hired have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Nature, Forbes, The Guardian, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and Success Magazine.

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

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