It’s time to look for a job and you want to leave the traditional academic bench science in which you have been trained and move in some fresh direction. In the May 2010 issue of the ASCB Newsletter, Amy Greenwood discussed strategies to identify and pursue a nonacademic career. 1 She wrote that you may need a résumé rather than a curriculum vitae (CV). Resources that describe what a résumé is and how it differs from a CV are hard to find. Here are some pointers about résumés in particular and about how to initiate a successful job search and promote yourself in the 21st century. A CV or a Résumé? In your academic career you have generated a CV, Eric Vieira an historical record of your accomplishments and professional activities. (The literal meaning of curriculum vitae is “the course of my life.”) In contrast, a résumé is an executive summary tailored to the position for which you are applying. If you are not looking for an academic position it is often more appropriate to present a résumé to prospective employers than to present a CV. Many career advisors recommend a one-page résumé, but I find that it is almost impossible for most people with advanced degrees and years of experience to represent themselves effectively on one sheet of lettersize paper. Thus a two-page résumé is fine, but you still want to make sure the most relevant information is on the front page. Standard 20-pound white copy paper is just fine when presenting your résumé in hard copy; heavy bond paper is so 20th century. But nowadays you will usually be submitting an electronic version. So save the trees and your money and don’t bother with the hard copy. Develop a Professional Summary If you are not sending along a cover page, it is a good idea to include a professional summary in your résumé. Consider this your personal fivesecond elevator pitch in written form. All you need is a sentence or two to describe yourself professionally. This should not be confused with an “objective ” statement; rather it is a means by which you describe how you are special and unique. An example of a good professional summary is, “A medicinal chemist with 15 years of industry experience who has successfully generated lead compounds currently in phase II clinical development for the treatment of metastatic lung cancer.
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