You’ve done it. Several years of grueling labour in the lab horizontally slicing mice hippocampi, de-confounding your experimental designs, and synchronizing your data streams for millisecond precision, and it has all come together into one beautiful, lengthy CV. This your record, the documentation of your skills, work products, and community engagement, and you’re ready for its debut on the job market.
As you prepare yourself to apply to research jobs in industry – whether it be an internship, a postdoc, or full-time research position – you might wonder whether to submit this glowing document of academic prowess or a plain ol’ resume. A CV documents all of one’s academic activities and outputs, and surely, this information is relevant to an application to an industry research job. On the other hand, the common wisdom when applying to industry roles is to submit that concise 1- to 2-page resume. What to do, what to do…
When asked whether one should submit a resume or CV when applying to a job, my answer to this question is usually, “It depends, and both”.
First of, if the job description requests either a CV or a resume, then you should of course submit the requested format. However, in most cases, it will be ambiguous. If you’re applying to a job that is focused on core transferable skills rather than on research and domain expertise, then it’s likely better to submit a concise resume. Whereas if the job posting specifically highlights domain expertise, then a CV might be more appropriate.
This requires some guessing based on the job description, as any job type could focus on deep scientific exploration or on broad, flexible problem-solving. So, rather than guessing, perhaps the safest approach is to submit a concise resume that serves as a gateway to your larger portfolio of work and experience.
Your Resume is a Gateway
Your resume should provide a tidy snapshot of your training, career experience, and scientific productivity. In essence, your work during your PhD likely resulted in some concrete output, and your resume’s job is to give a brief snapshot of this output and your background. From here, the resume should allow the hiring team to access your larger body of work if they’re interested in you. Use the real estate on your resume to link to your larger body of work, which might be presented on LinkedIn, Google Scholar, your professional website, and/or GitHub. PDF documents can have clickable links; embrace that power!
For example, if your graduate training resulted in publications, you might include a broad reference under one of your headings (e.g., your PhD), such as, “…resulting in 6 scientific publications in research journals”. Here or at the top of your resume, you can link to your Google Scholar profile or your professional website where the reader can access the specific articles themselves.
A professional website or portfolio can also include other aspects of your work, such as demos, a blog, non-published data projects, design concepts, community projects, and so on. If your graduate training did not result in a strong publication track record, showcasing this non-peer-reviewed work can give hiring teams a sampling of the kind of work you do. Similarly, you might also have a GitHub portfolio with coding projects, which can provide visibility into your coding abilities and other technical skills.
Finally, LinkedIn is a great tool for conveying various accomplishments, work outcomes, and skill sets. Treat this as a long-form resume that lists awards, role summaries, publications, additional trainings, and so on. Unlike a resume, you do not need to strive for concision on your LinkedIn profile. Instead, here you can give people a broader picture of your well-rounded skill set and your career accomplishments thus far. Keep ‘em scrolling!
When in doubt, I recommend submitting both. That is, you can include a resume (using the gateway format I suggested above) and the long-form CV in a single PDF (put the resume first). In fact, in the past, I have been known to sneak a cover letter into the PDF as well. I always figure, it can’t hurt! (Unless, of course, it’s messing with those resume filtering algorithms…)
Best of luck!