CV vs. Resume: What’s the Difference?

November 7, 2013

Word cloud of words like "Curriculum vitae," "Resume," "Job," "Letters," "Searching"Resumes and CVs are both extremely important documents to a job seeker. They are some of the most important job hunting tools you possess.  However, it can be confusing to know when and how to use each document.  This confusion is often compounded by the fact that there is not a standard resume or CV template – your documents will (and should) look different than your lab mates.  While there aren’t formal rules to follow, there are certain expectations for each document, which are noted in the table below:

 

CV

Resume

Definition

Ongoing academic & work history

Targeted marketing tool

Length

Virtually unlimited

1-3 pages depending on use

Purpose

Use if seeking:
* Academic, research, or postdoc positions

* Applying for grants/fellowships

Used for every other type of job search away from the bench — outside academia and/or research science

Content

Wide variety of sections, including (to name a few):
* Awards
* Grants
* Conferences attended

* Poster presentations
* Publications

Succinct and relevant to the position.  You usually only have space for a few key sections.
Two that are a given are:
*Education
*Experience

Design

Style is not as important as content

Style and content are both highly important – resumes must be formatted well and easy to read. Maximize all the white space on your resume’s page.

Omit

* Personal pronouns
* Objective statement
* References
* The label “Curriculum Vitae”
* Lots of bullet points with long narratives
* Lists of skills/techniques

* Personal pronouns

* Experience not relevant to the position

* Presentations & abstracts
* Publications

To hear more details about these differences, we encourage you to watch OITE’s video workshop, CVs and Resumes: Essential Job Search Documents.

CVs are the norm in a scientific research environment, so most scientists are familiar with the basics for creating a CV.  Therefore, creating a resume can be a bit more challenging. A lot of scientists’ resumes end up looking a lot like a CV.  When placed in an applicant pool with resumes, this CV will stand out as odd and out of touch.  It is important to understand the key differences between these documents and to take the time to convert your CV to a resume when the position calls for it.

Your lab and your publications often speak for themselves on a CV. This is not true for a resume.  Don’t assume that your lab and/or job title is enough to convince the reader that you are qualified for the position. On a resume, you should be using strong, active verbs and numbers to highlight your accomplishments in a quantitative way.  As an example, don’t just say you taught a lab section; employers want to know specifics like the fact that you “Designed lesson plans and taught introductory biology to 54 undergraduate students.”

For both documents, it is important to be genuine, but this is not the space to be modest. These documents are often the only introduction you get to present to a potential employer, so take the time to review them often.  It also helps to seek input from friends, colleagues, and OITE.

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This Week’s Episode of CHOPPED: A CV for the Chopping Block

August 12, 2010

onionsDid you see this week’s episode of “CHOPPED?” It contained one of the most ridiculous combinations of foods I’ve seen yet. The chefs had to incorporate the following into an appetizer: kabocha squash, sardines, banana chips, and rice paper. WHAT? Tough basket for this week’s chefs, for sure.

On to our version of CHOPPED…

So, what is a CV, anyway? That is a question I often hear from trainees. A more common question is: “What (on earth) is the difference between a CV and a résumé?”

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a document that outlines your entire academic history. It is used most often to apply for faculty positions at colleges and universities, for research-intensive positions at national labs or research institutes, and for fellowships, grants, or awards.

A résumé is a document that highlights your education, experiences, and skills as they relate to a particular position. It is essentially used for every position other than a faculty opening, for which a curriculum vitae (CV) is used. Some employers seeking the content of a résumé may instead request a CV, leaving the job seeker at a total loss. If you’d like more help in sorting out which document to prepare, visit the new and improved OITE website and take a look at the handouts on both CV and resume writing.

Now…on to this week’s victim, with names changed to protect the innocent, and my comments in red. This is less of a chop, though, and more of a sauté, as this CV is in such good shape. Consider this a sample that you might use as a model when constructing/editing your own document.

____________________________________

Hira Mee Tudeigh, Ph.D.

7890 Lois Lane            anytrainee@mail.nih.gov (work)

Baltimore, MD 21224             iheartscience@emailhost.com (home)

(abc) def-ghij

Education and Training

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

National Institutes of Health (NIH), 2005-present

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA)

–  Post-doctoral research topic:  Differential pharmacology of independent synaptic inputs to the ventral tegmental area (VTA).

Mentor:  Ino Alotta Stuff, Ph.D.

I have seen postdoctoral appointments listed under “Education and Training” or “Research Experience” categories. Either is fine.

  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS)

Center for Translational Neuroscience, 2002-2005

Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences

–  Doctoral dissertation title:  Development of REM sleep: Cholinergic and intrinsic mechanisms.

Mentor:  Read Abookaday, Ph.D.

When working on an academic CV, it is often helpful to list your mentor(s).

  • University of Central Arkansas (UCA), 1997-2001

B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Chemistry

–  Neurobiology research topic:  Role of pedal 3 neurons in turning while crawling in the marine slug Tritonia diomedea.

Mentor:  Interest Ingresearch, Ph.D.

–  Psychology research topic:  Immediate effects of a terroristic event on birth rates.

Mentor:  Patenting Althetime, Ph.D.

Teaching

  • Instructed Chemistry and Experimental Neurobiology Labs to over 350 students, 1999-2001
  • Tutored Chemistry I, Chemistry II and Physiological Chemistry, 2000-2001

Mentoring

  • NIDA summer student.  Physician-Scientist Training Program, 2010

–  Senior high school student in Honolulu, HI

  • UAMS summer student, 2004-2005

–  Chemistry Ph.D. student at Stanford University, Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship recipient

  • UAMS post-baccalaureate, 2003-2005

Science writer

Note how early in the CV the “Teaching” and “Mentoring” categories fall. Order is very important in CV writing, as it demonstrates interest and experience appropriate to the job at hand. For example, if this trainee were applying for teaching-intensive faculty positions, this order would be spot-on. If she/he were interested in research-intensive faculty jobs, listing research experience and publications earlier would be more useful.

Awards and Honors

  • NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE), 2008
  • Eli Lilly Graduate Student Travel Award to the Society for Neuroscience meeting, 2004
  • Walter Morris Neuroscience Award for Best Graduate Student Presentation, 2004
  • Sleep Research Society’s Trainee Merit Based Travel Award, 2004
  • UAMS Graduate School Travel Fund Award, 2003
  • 1st place Undergraduate Research Award from the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience for exceptional independent neurobiology research (additional monetary award from UCLA), 2001
  • Certificate for Meritorious Service to the Community from the American Chemistry Society, 2001
  • 3rd place Undergraduate Student Oral Presentation from the Arkansas Academy of Science, 2001

Professional Service

  • Co-founded the NIH Patent Law and Technology Transfer Scientific Interest Group, 2008
  • Chief Physiology Judge for the NIH Fellowship Award for Research Excellence, 2008-2010
  • NIH Fellows Committee (FelCom) Membership Secretary, NIDA Basic Science Representative, Job Fair Subcommittee, 2007-2010
  • Sleep Research Society Trainee Day Subcommittee Member, 2004-2005
  • President of the Student Affiliates, American Chemistry Society, 2000-2001
  • Treasurer of the Student Affiliates, American Chemistry Society, 1999-2000

Professional Societies

  • Society for Neuroscience, 2006-present
  • Student Member Sleep Research Society, 2003-2005
  • Student Member Society for Neuroscience, 2002-2005

Community Involvement

  • Organized and instructed Chemistry lectures and labs for the High School Science Workshop held at the University of Central Arkansas, 2000-2001
  • Held Chemistry demonstrations for 1st to 4th grade students at rural schools located in the central Arkansas region, 2000-2001
  • Judged the Central Arkansas Regional Science Fair and high school science fairs, 2000-2001
  • Volunteer in the Little Rock Baptist Hospital Emergency Room, 1998-1999

Both “Professional Service” and “Community Involvement” are important to list for teaching-intensive positions, as they demonstrate a commitment to issues other than one’s work; i.e. a commitment to serve the community, whether that be the campus community, the scientific community, etc.

Invited Presentations

1)      Are Pre- and Postsynaptic G-Protein Coupled Receptors Regulated Differently? Winter Conference on Brain Research, 2011.

2)      Taking it all in: Functional properties of distinct inputs to VTA dopamine neurons. Winter Conference on Brain Research, 2010.

3)      Impaired electrophysiological function in the substantia nigra precedes parkinsonian deficits in the MitoPark mouse.  Gordon Research Seminar: 2009.

Publications

Book Chapters

1)    Some Other People and Me. Chapter Title, In: Book Title, Really Smart Person (Ed.), Publisher, City, State, Zip. Chapter 9.

Research Articles in Progress (* indicates shared first authorship)

1)    Me*, Some Other Person*, Another Person, and Many Others. Article title.

2)    Some Other Person, Me, and a Few Others, Article title.

3)    Me, and Two Others. Article title.

4)    Me and Another Person. Article title. Research in Progress.

I appreciate the fact that the writer separated works in progress from published work here.

Research Articles Published (* indicates shared first authorship)

5)    Another Person*, Me*, Lots of Other People. (2010). Article title. Journal Title, In press.

6)    Me and One Other Person (2010). Article title. Journal Title. 30(23): 7900 –7909.

7)    Another Person, Me, and One Other. (2010). Article title. Journal Title. 59(1-2): 121-7.

8)    Me and One Person (2009). Article title. Journal Title. 587(6): 1233-47.

9)    Me (2007). Article title. Journal Title. 27(1): 1-3.

10) Me, and Several Others. (2007). Article title. Journal Title. 1129(1): 147-55.

11) A Few Others, Me, and a Few More. (2006). Article title. Journal Title. 141(2): 769-79.

12) Me, and Many People. (2006). Article title. Journal Title. 28(2): 210-19.

13) Several People, Me, and One Other Person. (2005). Article title. Journal Title. 3(2): 89-113.

14) One Person, Me, and Several Others. (2004). Article title. Journal Title. 91(4): 1470-1481.

15) One Person, Me, and a Few Others. (2004). Article title. Journal Title. 96(2): 735-746.

16) A Couple People and Me. (2003). Article title. Journal Title. 2(2): 115-131.

17) A Few People, Me, and a Few More. (2003). Article title. Journal Title. 140(1): 57-66.

Abstracts and Presentations

1)    This Person, Me, Those People. (2010). Title. Society for Neurosci. Abst.

2)    Me and That Person. (2009). Title. Gordon Research Conference.

3)    Me and That Person. (2008). Title. Society for Neurosci. Abst.

4)    Me, Some Other Person, and This Person (2007). Title. Society for Neurosci. Abst.

5)    Some Other Person, That Person, Me, and This Person. (2007). Title. Society for Neurosci. Abst.

6)    Me and Some Person. (2006). Title. Society for Neurosci. Abst.

7)    Some People, Me, and Another Person. (2006). Title. Sleep 28.

8)    Some Person, Me, and Some More People. (2006). Title. Sleep 28.

…And this list continued through 19 items, so this trainee has kept him/herself busy for some time.

_____________________________________

Send along your CV, résumé, or letter to msinche@gmail.com if you’re willing to brave the chopping block. As with today’s example, I may be quite easy on you: certainly easier than coming up with an appetizer of banana chips and sardines. 🙂


CHOPPED – Blog Review of CVs, Résumés, and Letters

June 23, 2010

chopped

As with last week’s post, I will continue every Wednesday to invite you to send me your CV, résumé, or cover letter via email to msinche@gmail.com. I will choose one document each Wednesday to put up on the chopping block–that is, to review on this blog. I will remove identifying information, and will offer not only critiques, but also praise when warranted.

Send me your document soon, and I will post the first I receive–with my comments–on this site.


CHOPPED – Blog Review of CVs, Résumés, and Letters

June 16, 2010

choppedMy favorite new reality TV show is “Chopped,” which airs on the Food Network. The show isn’t new, but I am new to it, and I can’t get enough of it. Chefs are given baskets containing secret ingredients and must create an appetizer, entrée, or dessert using everything they find in the basket. I love to cook, but I am more a recipe-follower than an improviser in the kitchen, so the chefs who compete on this show completely impress me.

What I would like to propose now is an online version of CHOPPED–well, with a slightly different premise. I would like to invite you to send me your CV, résumé, or cover letter via email (to msinche@gmail.com). I will choose one document each Wednesday to put up on the chopping block–that is, to review on this blog. I promise to remove identifying information, and will offer not only critiques, but also praise when warranted. Who knows…your document may even serve as a template for trainees just starting the job search process.

Send me your document soon, and I will post the first I receive–with my comments–on this site.

Bon Appétit!


Resumes and CVs: Tailor Made

February 9, 2010

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.govExit Disclaimer :

Science Coordinator, National Park Service, Acadia National Park (ME)

Major Duties:

  • 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.

Happy tailoring!


Writing the Teaching Statement

September 28, 2017

As you prepare a your written application materials to use when entering the Academic Job Market, in addition to the standard Curriculum Vitae (CV), Cover Letter,  and a diversity statements, you may be asked submit a Teaching Statement .  In general, teaching statements help search committees gain an understanding about how you approach teaching courses in your academic discipline.  This statement, that will include your philosophy towards teaching science,  will give the reader a concise synopsis of the underpinnings and origins to your approach to teaching followed by the strategies you plan to use, and examples and evidence of your success. The authors of,  The Academic Job Search Handbook (5th Edition), write that the Teaching Statement can be described as, “…a brief essay that will give a hiring committee an idea of what you actually do in the classroom. You will need to make some general statements but be sure to give some examples of things you have already done, or at least seen in practice, rather than give examples that are entirely hypothetical.”.

The NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) recommends that you watch our video casts on the Academic Job Search Process  before writing your statement.  Strong teaching statements will:

  • show clear evidence that you can “walk the walk”.
  • communicate that you are student-centered.
  • showcase your ability to teach to diverse learning styles
  • demonstrate your ability to reflect about your role as a teacher.
  • convey your enthusiasm for teaching.

For beginning instructors, Science Magazine provides some specific tips to the academic scientist who is starting the job market. The AAAS makes several suggestions to impress the search committee that include tailoring it to the institution, drawing form your personal experience learning science, and discussing what courses you would like to teach.  To help you get started, jot down your responses to the following reflective questions as you begin or re-evaluate your teaching statement:

  • Think back …Who or what experiences have influenced your approach to teaching?
  • How do you teach science? How do you motivate students to learn?
  • Do you teach differently to undergraduates, graduate, professionals?
  • What methods, materials, techniques, technology will you use to support your teaching goals
  • How will you teach to diverse audiences?
  • Describe creative methods to teach in your field?

If you are new to teaching or need more experience teaching, the OITE offers the course Scientists Teaching Science  that is an excellent program to help you begin to strategize and develop the skills for teaching in the profession including developing a teaching philosophy.  If taken, this can be included as training in your teaching statement and on your CV.


How to Have Productive Career Counseling and Pre-professional Advising Sessions

September 11, 2017

Many of our NIH post bacs, postdocs and graduate students ask the question, “What can I expect from my counseling or advising meeting?”   To answer this question fully is to realize that the route to having successful counseling and advising sessions, like any relationship, is a two-way street.

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The services that these career services professionals provide to you will come from one direction. For example, review the OITE blog post on reasons to seek career counseling. You may want to meet with a pre-professional school advisor who provide advice and suggestions for strategizing your approach to applying and gaining admission to the graduate (PhD) or professional schools (MD, MBA, JD, MPP, MS) programs. Often these are professionals who possess the degrees for which they are advising and/or give advice on school choice, entrance exam testing (i.e.: MCAT, DAT, GRE, etc.), course selection and prerequisites, personal statement review, and practice interviews for specific professions.

What you bring from the opposite direction (as a trainee) will truly enhance your experience, help you to meet half-way, and work together towards achieving your career goals. Here are some suggestions about how you can prepare to make the most of your sessions.

Ask good questions: review basic information before coming to the session

  • Visit the OITE webpage and review the various resources.
  • Read OITE Career blog, related to the topic for which you are seeking counseling and advising.
  • Visit the OITE webpage for prior events and videos on job search strategy topics such as, networking, CV and Cover Letter writing, and information on a variety of career paths for scientists.
  • Review  OITE resources for applying to MD, PhD, MD/PHD, programs or taking the MCAT, GRE.
  • Attend and NIH sponsored programs that are advertised by the various institutes of health.

Bring updated hard copies of documents to your session

  • Print and bring a copy of documents such as CVs, resumes, cover letters personal statements, teaching philosophies and research statements, etc.  Advisors like to write on them directly.
  • Follow suggestions and make any recommended changes/edits before your next meeting.
  • You will need to make the changes to your documents so it is in your own words. This is in your best interest so the document is genuinely from you.

Prepare for mock interviews beforehand

  • Review OITE video casts and blogs on interviews for medical school, graduate school, academic, or industry jobs, etc.
  • Ask for help answering questions that you are having difficulty with.
  • Schedule a practice interview at least one month prior to beginning actual interviews. This will give you time to practice after receiving constructive feedback.
  • Continue to practice your answers after your mock interview implementing any suggestions made by the advisor/counselor.

Do your homework

  • Follow any suggestions for next steps and referrals provided by your advisor and counselor. Attending workshops or visiting websites, conducting informational interviews, and meeting with alumni are other opportunities that career professionals may suggest.
  • Make any recommended changes to your documents before your next session.
  • If you are having difficulty, be sure to tell your advisor so we can continue to help you.

Of course, we recognize that sometimes it isn’t easy to determine the specific reasons why you are coming in. So, if you are having difficulty with any of these suggestions, then just answer the question, “What brings you in?”  Rest assured that your counselor or advisor will “take you where you are” and  happily guide you towards your goals.

 

 


Getting a Faculty Job – Revisited

August 14, 2017

We are reaching into the archives to update the August 2013 blog post, “Getting a Faculty Job.”   Starting in August, a large share of faculty jobs will begin accepting applications to fill positions that begin in the fall of the following year.  Here are some key elements of the academic job search to consider before you apply:

  1. What type of educational institution is appealing to you?
    Do you want to be at a large research university (like Columbia University in NYC), a state school that terminates in a master’s program (like Eastern Michigan University), or a four-year liberal arts environment, (like Swarthmore College) or community college.  Each of these types of institutions has different expectations regarding the amount of teaching and research expected from faculty.  Different institutions/schools have different expectations for grant funding, teaching, and service and obtaining tenure. Be sure to consider the type of position you are looking for so you can prepare the strongest possible package.  Another question to consider: does the location and setting (urban/suburban) matter to you? To research schools, look at the Carnegie Classifications.
  2. Find positions that interest you.
    Many schools post their domestic and international academic openings on-line at sites including:  Science Careers, New Scientist Jobs, Academic 360, Nature, Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), Cell Careers, Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Identify universities that have strong research programs in your field who may have positions open.  Utilize your professional network with faculty at professional meetings, conferences, and visit their websites to learn about future position openings.
  3. Start to prepare your job application package that will include several elements.
    a.   Curriculum Vitae (CV )– a record of your academic career.  Your CV, as described in the OITE Resume and CV Guide, will be tailored differently if it is a research-intensive position or if it is a teaching-intensive position.
  1. b.   Cover Letter – This is a document that is tailored to the job for which you are applying.  The OITE also publishes a Cover Letter guide document that shows several examples to explain why you are interested in establishing your career at that university, and how you see your research goals fitting into their overall department.
  2. c.   Research Statement/Plan – The goal here is to get your future colleagues to be excited about you and your science.  This document typically includes some discussion of prior research accomplishments, but you should specifically highlight the work most relevant to your proposed work.  You need to lay out a do-able research plan for the next 5+ years that is similar in format to what you would use for a grant submission with a focus on explaining how the work you are currently proposing fits into your broader long-term goals. Depending on the position, you may want to explain how you will tailor your research for students at the institution; this is especially important if the expectation is that you will engage large numbers of undergrads in your research.
  3. d.   Teaching Philosophy/Plan – If you will have a teaching component of your job, this part of your application tells them about your personal beliefs on teaching and gives a hiring committee a visual of your approach (philosophy, learning outcomes, methods, skills, texts etc.) to teaching students in that subject matter. Include specific examples and reflect that you understand the student population at that specific institution.
  4. Diversity Statement – In recent years, several universities request a written statement that addresses such questions your past and future contributions to diversity through research, teaching, and service. You may be asked to link this to the mission of the college and university as well. Go ahead and consult the diversity statement blog from 2016.
  5. Letters of recommendation – You should start to line your letters up early.  They need to be very strong.
  6. Practice Academic InterviewsIt is important to practice answering questions for academic interviews. Most often these interviews will be on campus, however, in some instances they may be conference interviews. The key to this is to research the university/college before you interview to avoid any interview gaffes. This also involves preparing and rehearsing for your job talk presentation and addressing any challenging questions.  We recommend practicing with scientists in your field who can provide helpful suggestions and pose questions that you may encounter during your interview.

Creating strong application documents and active preparation are keys to success in the academic job search market.  We encourage you to attend academic job search workshops and programs offered by the OITE.  In addition, the counselors can help you with preparation and encourage you watch our OITE video casts online including the Academic Job Search Overview prior to scheduling appointments. For those of you beyond NIH, consider setting up a practice interviews with your home institution’s academic department or career center.


Carpe Diem: Asking for Letters of Recommendation

August 2, 2017

It is that time of the year when NIH summer interns are returning to their home institutions and the application season for graduate and professional school and academic/post doc positions are right around the corner. It is also time to request letters of recommendation (LOR) to document your NIH training experiences.   The PIs or program directors are the perfect candidates to offer their written appraisal of your work and development that they have observed and recommend you for further opportunities.

Who do I ask?  Ask someone who knows you very well!   Many fellows are lured by the appeal of having a well-known scientist write a recommendation. While this can be advantageous, it is equally important to ask someone who is exceptionally familiar with your work and who can clearly speak to your strengths for the opportunity.  Usually, you will usually need at least three LORs to support your application. Be sure to check if there are specifications about the types of letters you will need for each opportunity that you consider.  Here a few examples of potential reference writers that scientists often use:

  • Principal Investigators (PI)s and Supervisors
  • Summer research experience mentors and program directors regarding your research skills
  • Preceptors (those who you have shadowed) and who can speak to your direct patient contact (health professions)
  • Dissertation/thesis/academic advisers at your home school
  • Observers of your teaching abilities
  • Industry or non-bench managers
  • References who have observed leadership and teamwork abilities
  • Faculty member who taught a hard science course

Will I be bothering them? They are busy.  They expect you to ! Most recommenders have a process and set time aside to write letters because this is how they launch the next generation of leaders.  Request your letter now. In a few months or years, they may forget exactly what you did but won’t forget you personally.   They can always update the letter later.

How to ask?  Ask personally!  Reach out by requesting a meeting by telephone or email.  Use a professional tone and address them using their title.  It is to your advantage to ask for an in-person meeting so that you can explain your long-term career plans and next-steps (post doc, graduate school, employment etc.). You can also have a thoughtful conversation about your competitive edge during the application process. This is also your opportunity to candidly ask for a positive recommendation. This will ensure that they don’t have any reservations about your candidacy. While an awkward conversation to have, it is in your best interest to ensure that you are getting the best endorsement possible. If it is not in your favor, thank them and ask another writer.

When do I ask? Ask now…Ask early! Even though you may not use the letter right away, it can be helpful to ask while your work is still fresh in their minds. You can store letters in a recommendation file service for later use through your college and university.  You can also set up an account with a reputable on-line file service where you can store a variety of references for later use.

What should I send to my reference writer?  Help them write your letter! Provide your letter writer with everything they need to complete the letter.  This can include your updated CV/resume, where, how, and to whom to send the letter, deadline date, and any specific information to include (i.e.: comments about your clinical work, research, etc.).  Some organizations will send an email or regular mail directly to your reference with specific details for completion.  This is typical with centralized application systems for graduate and professional school and fellowships. For industry jobs and some fellowships, you will only need to send contact information for references including how you know the person. Be sure to inform your reference about this because they will not have to write a letter but still prepare for a verbal reference.

Help! Why was I asked to write the letter?   Awkward!  A common reply to many reference requests, this request saves the writer time.   Look at this as your opportunity for you to refresh the writer’s memory about your accomplishments.  You will also have an idea of what he or she will write in your letter. Try creating several bullet points highlighting the areas you wish to have highlighted.  The recommender will then transpose these comments into a letter.

How should I thank my reference writer?  Send a thank you note.  In your letter, be sure to acknowledge your appreciation to your reference in writing via email or regular mail.  Also inform them if you were successful or if you need to request additional letters.


How to be Confident in the Job Search

July 24, 2017

Two of the most frequent questions that fellows ask during career counseling are, “For what jobs do I qualify? “or “Should I apply for this job?”. To answer these questions, career counselors begin with helping fellows to identify and speak assertively about career from their career trajectory that are factual and grounded in reality.  For example,  as a NIH fellow, you will have developed several core competencies which may include research, academic and scientific writing, speaking, grant writing, teaching, mentoring, leadership, management, and ethics training among others.  Also, fellows can speak clearly about their skills, motivations, achievements, values and experience that they have already developed without sounding too shy or overly confident.  In 2012,  Science magazine published a blog article, ” Successful Careers: A Matter of Confidence,”  that goes into more detail about this reality for scientists.

o-CONFIDENCE-facebook

In OITE, our goal is to help you develop more confidence about your career options and the job search and recommend taking the following steps. If you take these steps, you will be able to answer the questions positively and with confidence.

1.Identify and practice talking about your accomplishments, skills, interests and values.

  • Keep an on-going list of accomplishments and skills that you have gained through your education, training, and work.
  • Develop more understanding of factors related to workplace dynamics and communication. OITE offers a leadership workshop series to help. https://www.training.nih.gov/leadership_training
  • Include work, family and lifestyle needs into your decision-making
  1. Update your CV/Resume to reflect accomplishments, your skills and experiences.
  2. Explore various science career pathways in the sciences and note those of interest.

Some of the most common science career paths include intellectual property, science writing, regulatory affairs, outreach and education, technology transfer, science policy, principal investigator and entrepreneurship and academia. One effective way to begin exploration is to complete the myIDP assessment is self-report instrument that asks the test taker to respond to several smaller career scales related to their science related interests, values and skills.  A report is generated that and how these skills match up with the broad spectrum of employment sectors in science. The myIDP also includes overviews of many career paths in science with links to articles, books and professional associations that describe these career paths.

4.Compare and match your experience and skills to the qualifications listed in job ads

  • Begin to read multiple job descriptions and job openings. Underline/highlight key skills and qualifications in the job description that describe the type of experience the employer is seeking.
  • Reflect on your experience to identify skills that match the description and highlight those skills for your resume/CV.

5.Get involved in your institute/center committees, FELCOM, Scientific Interest Groups (SIG).

  • Obtain leadership and teamwork roles and strengthen your communication skills often prized by employers.
  1. Reach out to professionals who work in the career sectors that interest you.
  • Conduct informational interviews Talk to individuals who work in the job sectors and positions that interest you to learn more about specific skills and knowledge that helps them to do their work.
  • Email/ talk with at least 10-15 people to assess the fit for you in specific organizations and job roles.
  • The more people you talk with the more you will understand what specific jobs involve. You will make contacts in the fields that interest you and potentially find out about jobs that you might never see posted
  • Use your university networks, NIH researchers and alumni, professional society networks, andhttps://oitecareersblog.wordpress.com/?s=linked LinkedIn to find professionals to talk with.
  1. Schedule a mock (practice) interview with a career counselor, mentor, and/or colleague to practice your skills.

For NIH fellows, feel free to make an appointment with an OITE career counselor for if you need further help getting started or evaluating your approach.  Similar services can be found in your home institution or in the community for readers beyond the NIH.

Anne Kirchgessner MSEd. is a Career Counselor with NIH’s Office of Intramural Training and Education