While I have been in career services for over a decade, I still begin each new job search with the same step: I read the job description. Wow–what incredible advice! Good thing you signed up for this feed!
This may not especially novel advice, but job descriptions often contain precisely the information you need to set yourself apart from other applicants. Knowledge, skills, and abilities required, experiences or techniques preferred, and other information in the description should be used to demonstrate that you are a viable candidate.
Take this excerpt from a science education job posted recently on usajobs.gov :
Science Coordinator, National Park Service, Acadia National Park (ME)
- Create new science partnerships
- Maintain a research program (within the incumbent’s science discipline), in collaboration with academic colleagues and others
- Administer grant and cooperative research programs
- Facilitate the translation and communication of scientific research results for program participants, employees, neighbors, visitors, and conservation partner organizations
The description includes more detailed information, but this list represents some of the basic duties required. Can you translate work that you’ve done in your degree program or postdoc using the language above? You might be able to demonstrate that you’ve done similar work in the past. While this process may seem fairly straightforward, including language tailored to the job on your resume or CV may determine whether you are invited to interview or not.
One last note on tailoring your job search documents: experiences that demonstrate your ability to do a particular job need not be paid experiences. For example, you may currently serve on a Visiting Fellows committee. How can you translate this experience to persuade an employer that you qualify for a certain position? I would encourage you to go through this exercise each time you apply for a job.