You forgot your job packet email attachment– What now?

February 25, 2013

You found an awesome job posting or graduate program, crafted the perfect curriculum vitae, and created a cover letter capable of convincing the staunchest of holdouts that you are a vital addition to their team. The only problem is you remembered to attach your resume after pressing send on your cover letter e-mail. Forgotten attachments happen to everyone, but the job application process is where you are supposed to distinguish yourself as a better candidate than everyone else. So – now what?

Unlike many career advice searches on the internet, there are not a lot of professional sites with comments on forgotten attachments. The obvious action requires you to send the forgotten materials; otherwise there is no chance for success. The real question remains: How do provide the missing information while saving face?

Do you apologize for the mistake? Do you try to act as if it never happened? The best route is to resend the same e-mail (with the attachment this time) with a comment in the title about the inclusion. Do not write a long, apologetic paragraph about forgetting the attachment. This reaction makes a big deal out of a common mistake and can make you seem insecure. At the same time you need to say something to differentiate the new e-mail from the old one so the hiring manager or principal investigator does not think you are spamming them. One postdoc recently forgot to attach their resume to a cold call e-mail and recovered by simply sending the same e-mail entitled “Employment inquiry at blah with attached resume”, and received a positive response.

For the most part, human resources and principal investigators tend to be pretty forgiving. Just keep in mind they are judging you at every interaction – this can be a time to show your ability to recover gracefully from a difficult situation.

Mistakes made during the application process may come back to haunt you during the interview. Keep in mind that if you are being interviewed that the company/ principal investigator thinks you might be a good fit for them. Do not be the one to bring up a past mistake. Do not give them a reason to deny you the position. Only talk about a past error from your application process if they ask about it. Be prepared with an answer that puts you in a positive light, not something like you were too busy applying to their competitor and forgot the attachment to them.

Of course, the better strategy is to remember the attachment. Make a list of things, mentally or written down, that you always check before submitting any application. Some items to include can be; properly addressing the cover letter, attaching the required documentation, filling in the subject line, and using spell check (spell check will not reliably catch names).  Leave a comment with other items you think the email proof-reading list should include.




Resumes are about Results

January 23, 2013

You are reading through a job description, which starts with the following: “We are seeking an accomplished researcher to lead our transgenic mouse program.”  You think this job is perfect for you!  Your research project uses a transgenic mouse model, and for the past two years you’ve been Chair of your institute’s student led Career Symposium.  You include in your resume the research you did in transgenic mouse lines, add a one-line bullet “Chair: Career Symposium Committee,” and send it in with your cover letter.  Done.  Now you just have to wait for them to call you!

When employers advertise an open position, they are trying to find someone that can produce results and match their needs.  While you were correct to add your committee experience to your resume, simply listing it is not enough.  Your resume needs to describe, in words, the results of your work as leader, and how you achieved them.  So how do you do that?  Start by simply writing, on a piece of paper, what you did as the committee chair. Use active phrases that describe what you did and what you accomplished.  Here are some examples:

  • Met weekly with other committee members to identify topics of interest and produced 9 seminars during a 12-month period
  • Led meetings, set agendas, and ensured task completion
  • Led a team of 15 committee members and distributed people to 3 teams based on skills and expertise
  • Contacted potential speakers, providing details about your committee and the goals of the Career Symposium series
  • Coordinated travel arrangements for speakers, created itinerary, and confirmed travel & hotel arrangements
  • Managed finances to ensure the series stays on budget by tracking costs for receptions, honorariums, travel expenses, and processed reimbursements
  • Marketed seminars to NIH community, using email, websites and other social media and achieved average attendance of 150 people per seminar

Now you have a detailed description of your leadership and the results of your work on the committee.  The next step is to read through the job description again, paying attention to where there are examples of the requirements or duties of the position.  As you re-read the description, you see the following sentence:  “Successful applicants will be able to lead a small group, create timelines, communicate priorities, and manage staff to ensure deadlines are met.”  The final step is to condense the list above into two or three short, active, bullet points that describe how your experience leading the committee matches what they want. (Editor’s note: Give it a try by writing your version of the bullet points in the comment section of this blog).  This speaks directly to how you meet the position’s requirements, and is much more informative than listing “Chair: Career Symposium Committee.”

You can learn much more about career options in industry, and how to build your resume and cover letter to be competitive for these positions at theIndustry Careers Overview” seminar on January 24th, in Building 50 Room 1227 (also videocast at  Click here to register.

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   (work)

Baltimore, MD 21224    (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.


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


  • 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.


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 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


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 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 – First Résumé on the Chopping Block

June 17, 2010

Below you will find the first résumé in our “CHOPPED” series. I have inserted my comments in red. Please do consider sending your document along for next week’s episode!

Ima Champion, Ph.D.

12345 Fakeplace Ave., NW #550

Washington, DC 20008

(xxx) xxx-xxxx


Policy, Communication, Curriculum Development

While I encourage trainees to come up with descriptive category headings for their résumés, I would say this heading tries to cover too much. I would advise this trainee to change this heading to the type of work he would most like to do; e.g. “Science Policy Experience,” or “Experience in Science Policy and Education,” or something similar.

Fellow ∙ American Society of Human Genetics ∙ Bethesda, MD ∙ Apr 2010 – Present

Interesting style–the trainee chose here to highlight the organization in bold, rather than his title. This is completely appropriate, and will work whenever you think the organizational name carries more weight than your title.

  • Wrote NSF grant proposal to expand access to genomic data visualization tools in classroom settings
  • Providing analysis and briefing on legislative, judicial, policy action of interest to the genomics community
  • Representing ASHG in Hill outreach for FASEB, of which ASHG is a member, to communicate the importance of continued federal funding of basic scientific research

(Note of inspiration: this trainee created the science education fellowship above himself. Don’t be afraid to blaze a new trail in an area of interest for you!)

Fellow ∙ National Human Genome Research Institute ∙ NIH ∙ Bethesda, MD ∙ June 2009 – Present

  • Partnering with the ASTAR program at the Department of Justice to develop educational symposium for 50 federal and state high court judges to enhance understanding of the intersection of genomics and the law in areas such as forensics, genetic discrimination, privacy, and gene patenting
  • Recruited to participate with HHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee to analyze public perceptions and awareness of the role of genetics and genetic testing in personalized medicine and public health
  • Developed NHGRI documents on various topics, including family health history, pharmacogenomics, genetic testing, and disorders like Down Syndrome and Huntington Disease

Job descriptions for both positions are strong, using action verbs and details to describe work accomplishments.


PhD ∙ Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics, George Washington University, Washington, DC ∙ Sept 2004 – May 2009

  • Fully funded research at the National Institutes of Health via the GWU – NIH Graduate Partnership Program
  • George Washington University Representative to the NIH Graduate Student Council (2007 – 2009)

BA ∙ Chemistry – Biochemistry, Colby College, Waterville, ME ∙ Sept 1998 – May 2003

  • Assisted in teaching multiple laboratory sections and provided departmental tutoring support


Biomedical Research

Would add the word “Experience” to the end of this category heading.

Sickle Cell Disease & Hemoglobin Disorders ∙ 2003 – Present

  • As a post-doctoral fellow, studying global changes in DNA structure and gene expression underlying red blood cell development, severe anemias, and hemoglobin disorders affecting global populations
  • As a PhD candidate, studied red cell development, biology, and gene expression, describing primary defects contributing to severe anemia syndromes

Stem Cells & Gene Therapy ∙ 2001 – 2002

  • During an undergraduate fellowship at NIH, examined expression of retroviral receptors on bone marrow stem cells to develop improved gene therapy strategies for the treatment of blood disorders

Forensics & Environmental Toxins ∙ 2001 – 2003

  • As an undergraduate, examined the DNA damage to liver cells exposed to common industrial chemicals, to describe the underlying mechanisms leading to cancers in factory workers
  • Also conducted forensic DNA identification to develop a teaching exercise for use in multiple Colby College laboratory courses

Listing major research areas is a unique way of describing research experience, and one I have not seen before. I think it works well here, given this trainee’s interests, particularly since a few of these areas of research are hot topics in the media right now.

Presentations and Publications, Abbreviated

  • Presented research at various conferences, including: American Society of Hematology annual meetings (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009); Red Cells Gordon Conference (2007); Hemoglobin Switching Meeting (2006); American Chemical Society annual meeting (2003)
  • Published research in multiple journals, including: Molecular & Cellular Biology; Blood; Journal of Chemical Education

I have a few comments about handling this category this way. While an abbreviated list of publications and presentations is fine, I would argue that Publications may deserve more space on this résumé, if the trainee is truly interested in communication (as indicated in his first category heading, above), or if the trainee is targeting jobs for which writing is a major component. He might consider a category entitled “Writing Experience” and list all of his publications.

On the topic of space…this résumé is currently one page in Word, but the trainee has enough experience and education to warrant a second page.

Finally, one more way to handle a long list of publications and/or presentations is to create a separate document with the same header as your résumé, but listing only publications and presentations. On your résumé then, you might offer as a closing line “Complete list of publications and presentations available upon request.” I have seen some trainees use this technique effectively.


Nicely done, Jacques! Now where’s my dinner?

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 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!

FAQ’s on Resumes

May 20, 2010

question markYears ago, as I was training a career development staff, I created this list of questions I frequently heard from trainees. If you have a question about resume writing that you don’t see represented here, send it along and I’ll post an answer here!

Q: An employer requested a CV in a job ad I found, but it is not a faculty opening. Should I send a resume or a CV?

A:  Resume. The term “CV” is sometimes generically used to refer to any kind of personal qualifications document, but what employers are actually seeking is a resume. That is, employers who request “CVs” want to see categories typically included on a resume but not on an academic CV, such as skills or techniques, job descriptions for research you have conducted, etc.

Q: Should I include personal information on my resume, such as marital status, number of children, social security number, age, etc.?

A: No, not if you are applying for jobs in the United States. Including a social security number can be especially hazardous because of the potential for identity theft.

Q: Is an objective required on a resume?

A: No, but if used, it should be specific and demonstrate what you have to offer an employer. Alternatively, consider using a summary of qualifications or professional profile at the beginning of the resume to demonstrate focus.

Q: Should I list my postdoctoral experience under “Education,” “Research Experience,” or both?

A: It may depend on what you are applying for. If you are moving away from the bench, it may be fine to list your postdoctoral appointment under “Education.” However, if you expect to use laboratory skills day-to-day in your next position, list it under “Research Experience”—which should fall right after “Education.”

Q: Can I include volunteer work as experience?

A: Yes, as long as you don’t include it in a category entitled “Work Experience,” or “Employment.” The words “work” and “employment” denote paid experiences.

Q: Should I list my current advisor as a reference if we don’t have a very good relationship?

A: No—but be prepared for a prospective employer to contact that person. You can let employers know that you are conducting your job search in confidence, but some may still try to contact your current advisor.

Q: Do I need to print my resume on “good” paper when preparing to attend a job fair?

A: If you wish, but clean, 20-lb. white paper is just as good.

Q: Should I list presentations I’ve given in lab meetings? What about departmental presentations?

A: Lab meeting presentations: no; department-wide, Institute-wide: yes.

Q: I am on an H1-B. Should I list my visa status on my resume?

A: Deciding when to share your visa status with a potential employer is a personal decision. However, you may choose to wait until the interview stage to disclose your status, simply because that gives the employer an opportunity to review your credentials without considering sponsorship requirements—and it may be that they are willing to sponsor you after learning more about you and your abilities.

Q: Should I use the first person on my resume?

A: No. It is best not to use “I,” “me,” or “my” on your resume.

Q: Does font style matter? How about size?

A: Yes—the font used on a resume should be clean and easy to read. Arial and Times New Roman are used most often. Any font smaller than 11 pt. becomes difficult to read for some.

Q: What if my resume extends beyond one page?

A: That is fine. Consider both your education and level of experience. Generally speaking, graduate students have had more education and experience than undergrads, postdoctoral scholars more than grad students, etc. That said, going on to 2, 3, even 4 pages may be fine for you, depending on where you are in your science career.

Q: Should I list organizations I’ve been involved with that would reveal my religious affiliation? Political affiliation?

A: This is a personal decision—but be aware that it may introduce bias, depending on the point of view of the reader. Generally speaking, it is best not to include such information, unless you would not be interested in working in a place that would discriminate against a particular value, belief, or orientation you hold.

Q: Should I list professional affiliations?

A: Yes, if they are relevant to the position you are seeking. You may also choose to list fraternal or community service organizations if you think that participation in such groups demonstrates your civic mindedness and will be perceived positively by a prospective employer.