People keep coming to me for advice on how to put together their resumes. I've talked about CVs and resumes before, but I feel like I need to say a little more given the fact that I'm swimming in the putrid muck called "job hunting" right now.
In science, your resume is actually called a CV, and it is a bit longer than a standard resume. It's almost like a mini-autobiography detailing all of your accomplishments (publications, awards, teaching experience, etc.) or plumped up with padding if you are a student who hasn't had the time to rack up "accomplishments".
I have somehow become the "office of career services" for the graduate school-- people come to absorb my CV wisdom and ask me for suggestions. My only qualification for this role is that I finished mine first. Yep, in life that's all it takes sometimes. The person who gets their project done first must know what they are doing so let's go ask them.
So, here's my advice to all of you out there as I'm highly qualified to give such advice.
The people who will read your CV don't know any more about them than you do. There is no magic formula; there is no "sure thing".
They look for CVs that match the CV they made for themselves. They based their CV on the same internet sites and career guide resources that you have perused yourself. They are not (if you are applying for post docs) trained solely in resume design like some HR reps are--they will not throw your resume out if it is not on high bond paper of X weight.
The same rules that apply for any other piece of writing submitted to the public arena apply for a CV.
--Make sure it is clear and concise. Try to write phrases not sentences and paragraphs.
--Make sure there are no spelling errors and check your grammar.
--Make sure people can easily find what they are looking for--use headers for each section and bullets to express what you are trying to say in a "skimmable" format.
--include the accomplishments that qualify you for the job you are applying for. If you want a research post doc, make sure you discuss your technical abilities and former research positions. Include your ability to get funding and highlight your publications. If you are trying to get a teaching position, you may want to highlight your teaching experience over your technical experience. Highlighting your talents can always be done by putting certain things before others (people are lazy and tend to get bored towards the end of a CV).
--Go to a few websites designed for the type of resume/CV you are trying to create and follow their advice. If you find conflicting advice, use your brain and figure out which format best fits you and what you are trying to do
--Let someone else look at it, preferably not your mother because she thinks you are just peachy no matter what you do. Pick someone who has a job in the field you are going into to. A lawyer is going to give you different advice than a CEO, and both will tell you something different than a college dean.
--If you know you are not artistic--if you use the standard blue and yellow power point design for all of your presentations--please find someone who has a good "eye" to help you.
--Use standard fonts and make sure your CV is friendly for both scanning and electronic transmission. Check it on a couple of different computers just to make sure.
--Do not make your font smaller so you can fit more stuff in.