Cheeky Logo
Ready To Transition Into Industry?
Apply To Book A Free Call With Our Transition Specialist Team

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.

Book a Transition Call
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly



Dr. Isaiah Hankel is the Founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist. His articles, podcasts and trainings are consumed annually by millions of PhDs and other professionals in hundreds of 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 3X 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

Similar Articles

White Collar Jobs For Degree Holders Contract Steeply

White Collar Jobs For Degree Holders Contract Steeply

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Robert has had 7 final stage interviews for R&D positions and been rejected every time.  He has a PhD and the exact skills these employers were looking for.  Sarah has a Masters and was looking forward to making a good paycheck to pay off her student loans.  But she’s been uploading resumes for 6 months without getting one single interview.  What’s happening?  The skilled, or white collar job market is contracting sharply and shows no signs of expanding again over the next decade.  A recent report in Forbes discussed news that UPS drivers can earn up to $170,000 annually and…

5 Tough But Common Interview Questions For Research-Based Jobs

5 Tough But Common Interview Questions For Research-Based Jobs

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“I can’t get hired because of my technical skills.” “I’m nervous about the technical questions.” This is what many PhDs obsess over before interviewing for a research role.  The problem is that interviewers are rarely going to ask highly specific technical questions, even for research-based roles.  I had a PhD who was up for an interview at Baxter and told me that they appreciated the advice, but because it’s Baxter they know the interview will be mostly technical.  “Like what?” I asked. “Do you think you’re going to have to create a buffer in front of them?” “Are they going…

Adjunct, Postdoc, Or Amazon Warehouse Worker: Where PhDs With No Plan End Up

Adjunct, Postdoc, Or Amazon Warehouse Worker: Where PhDs With No Plan End Up

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

My PhD story is a cautionary tale.  I got my PhD against the backdrop of today’s contracting skilled, or “white-collar” job market.  Armed with my doctorate and an unwavering passion for research and academia, I had set my sights on a future brimming with intellectual pursuits.  Little did I know that the unpredictable twists of fate would lead me down a path I detested—donning the uniform of an Amazon warehouse worker. This is not a slight against those I currently work with. It’s just not what I thought my years and years of PhD-level training would bring me.  Sadly, after…

Scam Job Posts Versus Ghost Job Listings: A Guide For PhDs

Scam Job Posts Versus Ghost Job Listings: A Guide For PhDs

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

“I’ve applied to hundreds of job postings.” “Using the same resume?” I asked. “No, I targeted every resume. I’ve heard nothing back. In some cases I was sent a rejection email within the hour. What’s happening?!”“Ghost job listings.” I replied.  “Like fake jobs? Scams? I had a friend who applied to a job online and entered their private info and got hacked after. Like this?” “No, though that happens. Ghost job listings are from real companies but these companies have no intention of actually filling these jobs anytime soon …or at all.” “Why would they do this? What’s the point?”…

How To Get Hired In 3 Months Or Less When You Have A PhD (5 Action Steps)

How To Get Hired In 3 Months Or Less When You Have A PhD (5 Action Steps)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I had a client named Sarah years ago who needed to get hired in less than 60 days.  She was very concerned, and rightly so, that this wasn’t possible. She had her own reasons why she had to get hired so quickly, as everyone does. There were family obligations she had to pay off. She had been unemployed for a few months at this point. And she was about to lose her visa. This was an urgent, uncomfortable situation to say the least.  When I first talked to Sarah, she was frantic. She couldn’t keep a thought in her head…

How PhDs Can Find The Best Fit Company To Work For

How PhDs Can Find The Best Fit Company To Work For

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

When I started my job search, I was obsessed with finding the right job title. I wanted to make sure that I got into a job that was a good fit for me. So I scoured the internet for jobs that sounded interesting. By that I mean I would read a job posting, play out scenarios in my head of working in the role, and then based on what I imagined, would apply to the job, or not.  This was a disastrous strategy.  First, job titles are so variable and numerous that I was lost in a sea of phrases…

4 Ways To Give Your Social Selling Index A Big Boost

4 Ways To Give Your Social Selling Index A Big Boost

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Growing up, my parents had an adage for everything. And there was one I heard more than any other by far: Nothing worth having ever came easy. These words of wisdom were a lousy rebuttal for the injustices of childhood, but they became the mantra that got me through graduate school.  Maybe that’s why I regarded anything “easy” as weak, lazy, and average – all dirty words in my book. And, without knowing what LinkedIn was really about, I wrote it off as just that: an easy way for lazy people to try and find a job. It was, I…

10 Gotcha Interview Questions That Derail PhDs

10 Gotcha Interview Questions That Derail PhDs

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

There are hundreds of interview questions I’ve heard in the last 10 years. Thousands, actually. PhDs report back to me from the business end of their industry interviews a dozen, two dozen times a day. They ask for coaching on standard questions that you’ve probably been asked yourself in industry interviews: “Tell me what makes you the best fit for this job?”  “Where do you see yourself in five years?”  “What’s your biggest weakness?” I’ve also met with PhDs post-interview who tell me they were stumped by some really off-the-wall questions. Head-scratchers like: “How would your greatest enemy describe you?”…

Does Your PhD Resume Spell A Bad Culture Fit?

Does Your PhD Resume Spell A Bad Culture Fit?

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

One of the biggest reasons that I left academia was the constant negativity.  Instead of collaboration, I was pitted against my fellow PhDs. The system forced us to compete against one another. I couldn’t look to my advisors for support either. It was more trouble than it was worth to even get them to make time, and in the end, their “advice” was little more than common sense. And that’s to say nothing of the wrath I’d face if I picked the wrong time to speak up or advocate for my research. I persisted, though, and looked forward to applying…

Top Industry Career eBooks

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the best 63 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.

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.

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.