Yousuf, 41, immigrated from Europe to Ontario with his family in July, 2019. Since then, he has been looking for work as a researcher for a biotech company or in teaching at a university or college. Yousuf has applied for 64 jobs and has only made it to the interview stage twice.
“I am currently working at a supermarket to survive and financially support my family,” Yousuf writes. He started as a department manager in November, 2019, but has since switched to overnight stocking shifts so he can spend his days looking for work in his industry. “I am eager to make a change in my career,” he says. “I love working in the lab and teaching. Doing research has been a great part of my life.”
Yousuf has previously worked as an assistant professor of biology and a senior researcher at a European university. “I enjoyed teaching students because I love sharing my knowledge of theoretical and practical biology,” he explains. “I also enjoyed working in research labs to find answers to scientific questions and publish this information.”
While Yousuf is confident in his research and teaching skills, he feels that the pandemic has made it more difficult to find a job in his field. So we reached out to career coach Kerri Brock from CareerCycles and Azhar Rana, chief medical officer of the biotech company Mountain Valley MD to review Yousuf’s resume and offer their advice for his next steps.
WHAT THE CAREER COACH SAYS
For scientists, Ms. Brock says that it’s important to distinguish between an academic CV and a skills and accomplishments-based resume. “Yousuf shared his five-page CV with us – he should also consider having a resume to outline his professional experience, aligned with employer expectations,” Ms. Brock advises.
Yousuf should also reorganize his CV to North American standards, which includes creating a separate section for his formal education. “I might also suggest some indication in the cover letter or resume of whether or not he is in the process of getting his credentials verified by a third party like World Education Services (WES) to remove any education verification barriers for the employer,” says Ms. Brock.
As for Yousuf’s grocery store experience, which he has currently withheld from his resume, Ms. Brock believes it could be a worthwhile addition. “It highlights his familiarity with the Canadian workplace and communication skills,” she explains. “He could also leave out the details of this role on the CV and only state this experience in the cover letter.”
Ms. Brock reminds Yousuf, and other newcomers like him, that career transitions for people at his level can take up to 18 months. She says it’s common for job seekers to apply for up to 10 jobs a day, so Yousuf’s 64 applications in two years might be considered low. She also recommends he remain active on LinkedIn to connect with hiring managers and recruiters along with expanding his Canadian network by joining meetups or mentorship programs with professional associations.
WHAT THE INDUSTRY EXPERT SAYS
Mr. Rana recognizes Yousuf’s extensive experience and qualifications, but feels that his resume lacks descriptions of his achievements in each role he held. “A hiring manager should have an understanding of what the role is, but what they won’t know is what Yousuf specifically achieved in that role,” Mr. Rana explains. “Key highlights, major milestones or achievements are the best way to communicate your successes in each role.”
Mr. Rana also says that his CV is too long for applications to a biotech company like Mountain Valley MD. He can remove his publications, manuscript and poster presentation sections and instead provide a reference or link to review those items. Yousuf can also combine his teaching experience and professional activities into one section. “It’s so that the timeline of work is in one place,” says Mr. Rana. “It’s difficult to follow the CV in this format and determine when he was doing various roles.” Each job description should be restructured to list the role, location and duration first, followed by a description of achievements and milestones. Yousuf should also incorporate his laboratory skills into each role, where relevant, instead of listing them in a separate section at the end.
While Yousuf has strong scientific and research skills, Mr. Rana says that soft skills are also important to land a research role in biotech. “Increasingly important in these roles is not only the ability to conduct science but to also be able to interpret and communicate it clearly to a wide group of stakeholders,” he explains. “It would be great if Yousuf’s CV was able to clarify those additional ‘softer’ skills in his experience.”
Like Ms. Brock, Mr. Rana also supports adding the grocery store experience to Yousuf’s resume. “I think working as he has at a supermarket should be something he is proud of, rather than to hide,” he explains. “It would be an eye-catcher on such an extensive CV and I would want to know why he took that role. It’s a talking point that may get him an interview discussion at the least.”
THE NEW RESUME
Yousuf has reformatted the top section of his resume with a vertical address, phone number and e-mail address bar, followed by links to his profiles on LinkedIn, Publons and ResearchGate. A short opening paragraph summarizes Yousuf’s experience and career goals. He has reordered the flow of information, outlining his research experience first, including scientific achievements (which have been withheld for privacy), followed by his education and teaching experience. Lastly, he has added his grocery store role in a separate “Canadian Experience” section on his resume.
INTERESTED IN HAVING YOUR RESUME REVIEWED?
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