Today’s post is by our marvelous and insightful postac coach, Dr. Maggie Gover. If you’d like to schedule a consult with her, learn more about that here. Part I of this 2-part series is here.
Dr. Maggie Gover’s career is dedicated to helping students successfully complete their graduate degrees and then transition into successful professional lives. As such, she has quite a bit of experience helping students identify industries in which they may be successful and describing their graduate careers in ways that might be attractive to those industries. While she is most knowledgeable in alternative academic jobs, she has helped students transition into private industry, government, and non-profit jobs as well. Maggie’s service to students began when she was an undergraduate at the University of Southern California where she served as an intern in the Office of Admissions. While she was completing her Master’s degree at the University of Oxford she served as a Junior Dean at St. Hilda’s College. When she was a PhD candidate at UC Riverside she was the Coordinator for Academic Preparation and Outreach and then the Graduate Student Mentorship Program Coordinator, and later the Director of Graduate Student Professional and Academic Development. While she is now primarily an administrator, she is still researching and publishing in theories of new media and 19th C visual sciences.Maggie’s Consulting Philosophy: I am a strong supporter of graduate education and think that society benefits from having those incredibly creative and analytic minds in diverse industries. I want to help students find careers that are satisfying to them and in which they will excel. Remember that no career search is easy! It will take hard work, knowledge, dedication, and perseverance. However, the great joy of working with graduate students is that they have dedication and perseverance in spades! You bring that to the table, and I can help with the knowledge.
Unfortunately, most of us cannot create a single resume which we use to apply to many and various positions. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could? When leaving a career in academia, most of us will be interested in applying for several different types of positions in varying industries. It is important that the resume you submit for each type of job tells a cohesive story (see article about creating a cohesive story here). It must sound like your professional experiences have led you to the type of work you are seeking. So, if you are applying for several different types of jobs or industries, I suggest having what I call a “base resume” for each.
I used to call a base resume the working resume, but I have changed my language. The “working resume” can be a single document that has every experience and all of the different things that you did in that experience on it. It might be as long as your CV and it is simply a way to keep track of all the diverse professional experiences you have had.
The base resume is different. It is one where, with very few modifications, you can submit it for one type of job. It is polished and ready to send. And, if you are applying for very different types of jobs, you will need a base resume that corresponds to each.
For example, when I was starting out, I was seeking positions in content development for digital marketing, career services at universities and colleges, and writing center administration. Those were three very different resumes. As a job became available in any of those areas, I knew I had a resume that I could submit.
I have a very specific process I follow for creating a base resume. Those of you who have worked with me will likely recognize the process. First, I look at several job descriptions that are in the same type of work. I then determine which are the competencies that all or most of them require. When I have made that list, I can write a resume that describes all of my experiences in a way that seems relevant and cohesive for those types of positions.
The biggest problem I see with base resumes that clients have generated for themselves is that they are not corresponding to one type of position. This means that the “type” of position they are writing the resume for is too broad. Sometimes I see a base resume that is created for something like, “an alt-ac position at a university.” However, alt-ac positions at universities vary widely. A Women’s Center Coordinator position will likely be very different from a Development Director position. Therefore, those two resumes should reflect the different skills that would be required of the position.
If you compile a set of job descriptions and find that they have very few overlapping competencies, chances are you are thinking too broadly about those positions. You may have to narrow your search to produce more similar job descriptions and then create an effective base resume.
Of course, every position will have a few outlying skills or requirements. That is where tailoring the base resume before you submit it for the specific position will come in handy. Instead of drafting a new resume, you can just add a bullet point that addresses the specific outlying competency they are seeking. You may also want to modify the resume to echo their own language to them. So, if you use the term “budget management” but their job description uses “budget oversight,” you can use their term without altering the meaning. Whenever it is possible to echo the language of the job description, do so.
The beauty of a base resume is that, once you have a good one drafted, your turn around time between seeing a position posted and submitting for that position can be much faster. You won’t have to sit down and create a new document from the working resume.
After you have created your first base resume, the process for creating others will become easier and easier. Just like writing in any genre, the more you do it, the more proficient you will become.
Good luck and happy writing!
- Framing Your Freelance Experience on the Academic Job Market – Fruscione #postac post
- ASK THE #POST-ACS – How do I describe my academic work experience in post-ac interviews?
- An Alt-Ac Summer Workshop That Works (A guest post)
- Editing Your C.V. and Letter for Teaching/Writing Positions
- The Job of an Academic Editor: Part 1 (Fruscione #Postac Post)
Janney - Medical Student says
It’s a great sharing, although I’m a student now, I think these info will be helpful when I go to work.
Thanks, Dr. Maggie Gover