How to Write an Academic Research Resume That Will Stand Out in 2018

What you need for a winning academic research resume:

From playing academic politics to conquering the mountain of IRB permission (if you aren’t familiar with that challenge, count yourself lucky) researchers have a unique set of challenges when it comes to apply for jobs, programs, and grants. Here are the key factors you need to keep in mind when creating an academic research resume:

  • Make sure it’s the right length, though in general an academic research resume can be longer than most
  • Ensure your resume is tailored for the position or grant you’re applying for and not the same one you always send
  • Write with the HR professional, institutional board, of researchers who will read your resume in mind: they are your audience
  • Try as much as possible to show and not tell about who you are and what you can do, this goes beyond just your research and into you as a person

Remember, while in a perfect world your research and accomplishments would simply speak for themselves, we don’t life in that world. How these things are packaged and how you present yourself as a person still have an influence on people reading your academic research resume.
We’ve interviewed several successful Enhancv users to learn what makes an academic research resume successful. Here are those resume examples and what follows are the lessons learned.

Best Research resume examples by users who got hired

How to write an academic research resume

Begin with the job, program, or grant description

You may begin the application process thinking about how to portray yourself in the best possible way, but that’s counterintuitively not the right way to go about it. Don’t start with yourself, start with what the position asks for. Carefully read the what’s required and make note of all of the skills and qualities it asks for.
Now you can work backwards, adjusting or creating your resume while ensuring all the information about you is presented to best match those requirements. Ultimately, you want the people reading your resume to think “wow, they seem perfect for this”.

Make it the right length

As mentioned above, never forget who your audience is. Often, an academic research resume can run several pages and detail your previous work in depth. However, that isn’t always the case. Consider whether the person or people who will read your resume are interested in reading several pages or whether it might make sense to put down less and include more details on LinkedIn or a personal website. A good rule is to consider everything you include on your resume and ask yourself whether it adds value. If it doesn’t add to your resume, remove it.

Show, don’t tell

Whether you’re a researcher or applying for any regular job, resumes should always follow this rule when possible. So, instead of simply using buzzwords to say that you have experience in an area, are a good lecturer, or a great team player, show it. Take this section from Pavel’s data science research resume below. He has a simple list of some areas of expertise, but below each one are examples demonstrating that expertise.

Resume Section

Focus on what makes you unique

Again, ideally your qualifications should speak for themselves, but the research world is sadly not a perfect meritocracy. It still pays to make yourself stand out in the right ways. For example, you can demonstrate skills or qualities related to what you’re applying for through outside projects. This could be mentioning media appearances you’ve made, successful collaborations you've participated in, or passionate side projects you’ve led.

Resume Section

What 8 sections you should consider including in an academic research resume

While there’s a lot of variety in academic research resumes depending on your experience and what you’re applying for, these are sections to consider.

1. Bio
2. Experience
3. Presentations
4. Most proud of
5. Books
6. Publications
7. Education

1. Your Bio

Besides your name, a short (a few words to a sentence) description of who you are and/or what your goal is can be very effective. The idea is that a section like this sets the stage for the rest of the resume. So, when your resume mentions some facts about you, the reader considers those facts in the context of your mission. This makes the rest of your resume that much more effective.

Resume Section

2. Your Experience

This can be your non-academic work or academic experience. As always, consider what you’re applying for and who will be reading your academic research resume. In the example below, Chris showed his dedication to working on causes he believes in, something valuable to demonstrate for an independent research project under a Fulbright grant.

Resume Section

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3. Your presentations

It’s no secret that many researchers don’t have great presentation skills. Demonstrating that you have experience here is therefore an excellent way to stand out and show your value.

Resume Section

4. Your Languages

Speaking multiple languages may not be directly relevant to your research, but speaking at least one other languages increases your cognitive abilities and the likelihood you’ll get hired. It also expands your access to academic literature in other languages.

Resume Section

5. What you’re most proud of

This is the perfect place to talk about something you think is amazing about yourself but which doesn’t fit neatly into any other resume section. Here, you can share an endearing story, talk about a time when you overcame significant hardship, or even make a recruiter laugh (if you think that would be effective in the context).

Resume Section

6. Your favorite books or other publications

If it’s relevant to what you’re apply for, consider including some books, articles, or other publications which significantly influenced you. This is a quick way to say a lot about your core beliefs as a researcher.

7. Your publications

For most experienced researchers applying for any kind of position or grant, listing publications is a must.

Resume Section

8. Your education

Besides the obvious listing of your degrees and perhaps your GPA, this section can benefit from including details about your accomplishments or courses you took outside of any university.

Resume Section
Resume Section

How to get a referral on LinkedIn for the research role you want

Applicants who rely solely on their resume to get an interview have less than a 2% chance of getting an interview. At the same time, the sales industry is downsizing (in the US). As you can see, it’s important to give yourself the best shot possible at getting hired. This includes leveraging personal connections to get referred to a job.
So before you start applying for a new sales role, check your 1st and 2nd degree contacts in both LinkedIn and in any other relevant groups you may belong to. If you don’t have strong connections in the industry you’re looking to establish yourself in, start making them now!
Check out our complete guide to getting job referrals for more actionable tips.

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