Saturday, August 26, 2006

CV to resume

Being that a number of jobs I want to apply for are non-academic, I've decided it would probably be best to submit a resume rather than a CV. I figured converting my CV to a resume would be a pretty easy task. I thought wrong. It has taken me longer than expected to convert my CV to a resume and in the process I've realized that a CV is pretty easy to write compared to a resume. A few reasons why...

  1. A CV is simply a list of your accomplishments. You list pretty much everything and anything academic related on it. The more the better. On the other hand, a resume is supposed to be short and sweet and highlight only your best skills and achievements. Picking and choosing is not fun and neither is trying to reword a sentence to include as many skills as possible but still trying to maintain proper sentence structure.
  2. There is really no creativity in a CV, as is evident by the number of boring CVs I've come across. Now I know they aren't supposed to be flashy but at least some nice formatting instead of just simple lists in Times New Roman would be nice. Resumes are also not supposed to be flashy but you do have to format it in such a way as to catch the reader's eye and make it easy to read and concise.
  3. In a CV you usually don't list skills or need to use descriptive words or so called 'power words' when talking about your achievements. Just a simple list will suffice. In a resume you have to list your key strengths but not all of them, just a select few preferably related to the job you are applying for. Therefore, you have to be pretty creative in order to squeeze as many power words into only a few sentences.
  4. In a resume, simply stating you have a PhD (or a MSc or a BSc, for that matter) is not enough. You have to describe your skills and knowledge gained during your PhD. Sure it looks nice on your resume to state that you have a PhD but since PhD experiences can be so variable, simply stating you have a PhD really doesn't mean much when the person hiring is trying to determine whether you will be an asset to their company. Now this would probably not be necessary if you have work experience besides your PhD but I don't and neither do most new or soon to be graduates.
Reorganizing my CV into a resume was a good learning experience though. It made me think, "what have I accomplished during these last many years besides the soon to be title of PhD?". It made me put into words what skills, knowledge, and accomplishments I have gained from my PhD. However, it was kind of sad going from my nine page CV to my two page resume. I almost shed a little tear when I deleted all my publications, meeting presentations, and scholarships and replaced them with a few lines simply stating the number of presentations and publications and the fact that I received some scholarships. What is considered probably the most important entry on your CV behind your education has now been reduced to four lines on my resume. If it helps me get a job though, I'm all for it. One plus to making my CV into a resume - now at least I can list all those skills I gained from all the non-grad student or non-research related crap my supervisor has gotten me to do.


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