Career Network for student Scientists and Postdocs at Yale

Creating a platform for discussion of scientific careers

Author: Lydia Hoffstaetter (page 2 of 2)

Swap Your CV!

This week’s blog comes to us from guest blogger Laurel Lorenz. Previously, she shared her experience with unexpected opportunities for networking. This week, she shares another low-key tip on how to increase your network and improve your CV. Here’s Laurel…


As we all know, networking is critical for getting jobs, and yet some would say that it is in poor taste to network with someone just to get a job. So how is it possible to connect with someone in a way that feels comfortable and natural, and simultaneously fulfills the purpose of increasing your job prospects?

One simple approach is to peer-network by asking someone to swap curriculum vitaes, or CVs. In the swap, you each share your CV and offer feedback to enhance each other’s CV. This creates a mutually beneficial situation in which each of you can find ways to improve your CV and learn about new opportunities. In addition, as more people are aware of your unique set of qualifications, the more likely you are to connect with the right organization.


Exchange CVs

Although exchanging CVs is a great way to help you network, how do you initiate the CV swap? To inspire you to ask, we offer several examples:


One-on-one Peer Exchange

To connect with a colleague, ask, “Hi Penelope, I’m revising my CV and am curious if we can each get new ideas by exchanging CVs. Would you mind swapping CVs?” An added bonus is that by reciprocally offering to review their CV, you strengthen the relationship with your colleague.


Group Peer Exchange

Alternatively, you could lead your lab-mates in a multi-person CV exchange. Again, let your co-workers know that you’re looking for ways to improve your CV and would like to have everyone share their CVs with each other. You can also include lab alumni in the exchange and see how their similar experiences led to their current position. In this strategy, you’re building reciprocal relationships within your existing network and extending your network.


Professional Exchange

A third example is to send a cold email, something like, “Hi Person with My Dream Career! You’re a top person in your field and my goal is to have a similar career as you. What experiences best helped you to get to your current position? Would you mind sharing your CV with me so that I can learn how to develop a similar career?” In this strategy, you’re expanding your network by asking a new contact to engage in a dialogue to share how they became successful.


Keep in mind, most people want to help you. It is likely that they received similar help in obtaining their current position and are looking for ways to pay it forward. Take advantage of this generosity!


Improve your CV

Once you exchange CVs with your colleague (and thank them!), engage in a dialogue to see how yours could be revised. Remember, it’s better to receive and respond to criticism from within your network than to be rejected by a hiring committee.

In return, read their CV and offer thoughtful suggestions to them as well. While reading through their CV, you can also use the opportunity to identify techniques that you can adapt to make yours more effective.

What is it that makes your colleague’s CV stand out?

Do they include an accomplishment that you have, but present it in a more impressive way?

How did your friend translate the soft skills from their graduate school and postdoctoral training into tangible items on their CV?

How do they organize their experiences?

Do they have an attractive graphic design?

After evaluating these elements, you can improve your CV by mirroring these elements in your own CV.


Expand your network and opportunities

By engaging in a CV swap, not only can you re-frame your previous experiences, but you can also learn of ways to expand your skills and network. If your exchange partner’s CV includes a unique experience, you can find new ways to engage with a similar opportunity.

For example, when I swapped CVs with my friend, I was particularly interested in finding opportunities to engage in science communication. After reviewing my friend’s CV, I became aware of opportunities to write for the CNSPY Blog, join Yale Science Diplomacy and Greater New Haven Toastmasters, and volunteer at the New Haven Science Fair.

All of these organizations have offered excellent networking opportunities.

When you ask to swap CVs with someone, there is no limit to how you can improve your CV and how widely you can expand your network. Ask to swap CVs with as many people as you can think of! The more people that you ask, the more likely that you will be able to network and make new opportunities for yourself.


** Ask a friend to swap CVs and let us know what opportunities and ideas it leads you to!**

Share your thoughts below by clicking the “Leave a Reply” link or by clicking the chat bubble in the top right of the post.

How to Write an Effective Summary Statement

In this week’s blog, guest blogger Kristen Murfin continues her discussion of the importance of tailoring your resume to specific companies and job postings. Here, she focuses on how to formulate a strong summary statement to impress hiring managers. Here’s Kristen…


In our previous blog, we discussed the importance of tailoring your resume to increase your chances of being noticed by the hiring manager. Another way to improve the visibility of your resume is to start with a strong summary statement. This is different than an objective statement that mostly states what kind of job you are looking for. A good summary statement should be 2-3 concise, focused sentences that show that you would be a valuable employee. You also want it to be unique to you and the job you are applying for. Here are a few tips for writing a strong summary statement:


1. Make a list of your expertise, achievements, or characteristics you want to highlight


Expertise and qualifications:

Similar to tailoring your resume, the summary statement for your resume should highlight features that are relevant to the specific job position and the company you are applying to. Look through the job posting and similar positions at the company for key words and phrases, necessary qualifications, and required skills. You can also look at the LinkedIn profiles of people with similar positions at the company for these items. Compare this list of skills to your resume. What matches?



Now assess which of your achievements demonstrate that you have the necessary skills for the position. These can be things like: secured funding and budgeted for a research project, publication of articles, effectively managed research group, increased productivity, etc. If you can concretely state utilization of your skills with a good result, this will be stronger than stating you possess a skill.



It is also important to consider the company culture of where you’re applying and what soft skills you have that might be valuable. Most companies have a mission statement or informational section on their website that you can pull from. Additionally, talking to someone currently at the company can give you a good feel for the company culture. Other soft skills might be listed in the job posting, such as organization and management abilities, oral and written communication, team player and collaborative, or time management.


**A note for those switching career tracks:

You likely will not have exactly the same experience as that listed in the job posting. You should focus on transferable skills you have that are similar. For example, the job posting might state “experience presenting to board members” or “written progress reports”. As a PhD, you have a lot of communication experience that you can highlight (all those papers and oral presentations!) even though the context of your communications experience is different.


2. Decide which characteristics from the list you want to use

After assessing your skills, you will likely have a very long list of things that you could include. You will need to parse this down to about 4-6 key points to write up. A lot of this editing will be based on what you think is most important and how you want to represent yourself to the hiring manager. Here are some questions you can ask to help you through the editing process:


  • What skills or characteristics seem to be most important on the job posting?
  • What skills, achievements or characteristics seem to be repeated the most in your list? Can they be combined?
  • What skills or activities do you most like to do?
  • What are you most passionate about?
  • What achievements are you most proud of?
  • What are your most impactful skills or contributions?
  • What is most unique and might set you apart from other applicants?


Ideally, after editing you should have 4-6 points that fit many of the above questions.


3. Write your statement!

Now the writing part. Here are a few tips to help with wording and make your statement more impactful:


  • Include a descriptive job title and experience level
  • Don’t use I or me. Instead, phrase the statement as descriptive comments or declarative sentences
  • Don’t use passive voice
  • Use action verbs
  • Use key words or phrases you identified in the job posting
  • Use unique and informative adjectives and wording. You don’t want to sound generic
  • Make your statement focused on what you can offer the company


Here are some example statements:



Efficient researcher with laboratory management experience and PhD training at Yale University. Offers technical expertise in bacteriology and immunology research techniques as well as thoughtful mentorship.


Grants administrator

Current postdoctoral researcher that can leverage experience grant writing, budgeting, and coordinating complex projects. 10 years of scientific experience with deep knowledge of medical research and global public health. Adept at scientific communication and collaborative development of projects.


Scientific Writer

Versatile scientific writer with over 8 years of writing experience in a variety of publications, including scientific journals, blogs, and university websites. Able to provide quality, customized materials on short deadlines.


Medical Science Liaison

PhD level researcher with technical knowledge of immunofluorescent imaging and excellent interpersonal skills. Wide array of teaching and speaking experience, including individual training, group lecturing, and written instruction. Proven capabilities in the application of immunofluorescent technologies and trouble shooting.


4. Edit and edit some more

Be sure to thoroughly edit your statement for clarity, ease of reading, and typos. It is always a good idea to send it to a friend (or multiple friends) to get input!


**Write your own summary statement and let us know your results**




  1. How to Write a Resume Summary Section That Gets Interviews!
  2. How To Write An Amazing Resume Summary Statement (Examples Included)
  3. The Art of Writing a Great Resume Summary Statement
  4. The Resume Summary Statement: When You Need One and How to Do It
  5. Resume Objective or Summary: You need One, but Which?
  6. The 10 Most Overused LinkedIn Buzzwords of the Year

How to Tailor Your Resume

This week’s blog is written by guest blogger and new member of the CNSPY Communications Team, Kristen Murfin. She shares some useful advice on how to tailor your resume to fit the job you really want. Here’s Kristen…


Did you know that a recruiter spends an average of just 6 seconds assessing your resume? A study by Ladders used eye tracking software to assess the length of time recruiters looked at resumes and what they looked at. The researchers found that in those 6 seconds, recruiters spent 80% of the time looking at the name, current title and company, previous title and company, start and end dates, and education. The remaining 20% was spent skimming (not reading!) the resume for key words and phrases that were consistent with the job posting. Most of this skimming was towards the top of the first page.

So what does this mean for the job seeker? First, your resume must be brief, easy to read, and it should be easy to find the relevant sections. Second, the most relevant and exciting material should be near the top of the first page. Third, tailoring your resume for a specific job posting will increase your chances of making it past the 6-second filter (as well as any automated filtering systems). Here are a few quick tips for how to tailor your resume:


1. Start by writing an in-depth, results-driven resume that encompasses EVERYTHING

Don’t worry if you write a three-page monster list. This is just the starting point. If you want advice on how to write your sections, check out previous CNSPY blogs here and here.


2. Research the position you are applying for

Now, do a little research (taking notes will be very helpful!). Ultimately, you want to come up with a list of skills and experiences that you can highlight on your resume. Start by reading the job description and identifying the qualifications and skills listed. You can also look at similar job postings at the same company, LinkedIn profiles of people who currently have the same job title, and job descriptions at the same or similar companies. While you are making your list take note of the key words or phrases that come up multiple times, especially in the job posting.


3. Cross-reference your list of skills with your resume

Assess which skills you have that fit the list and which ones don’t. For experiences that do fit, tweak the wording to match the key words and phrases used in the job posting. However, don’t exaggerate your accomplishments. Cut or minimize experiences that don’t directly address skills relevant to the job. You shouldn’t cut employment history that will leave a gap in your resume, but you may minimize the space given to the position (remember that space in your resume is really limited). You can also consider splitting your resume into two broad categories, “Relevant Experience” and “Additional Experience”. Here is an example modifying a graduate school experience for a project lead position at a biotech company:



Graduate Student Researcher                         Year XXXX-XXXX

  • Studied the role of Y protein in Z cancer for the development of novel therapeutics targeting Y
  • 6 peer-reviewed articles, 1 patent, and 18 presentations
  • 3 fellowships, 1 NIH grant
  • Mentored 4 undergraduate researchers
  • Facilitated collaborations
  • Teaching 2 semesters of Introduction to Molecular Biology
  • Volunteered as a student host for recruitment
  • Technical expertise in cell culture, molecular biology techniques, mouse husbandry, and protein analyses



Graduate Research Fellow                              Year XXXX-XXXX

  • Lead an investigation developing novel therapeutics for Z cancer, which resulted in 6 publications, 1 patent, and 18 presentations
  • Project management for facilitating collaborations between 3 laboratories and training 4 undergraduate research students
  • Secured and budgeted research funds, including 3 fellowships and 1 NIH grant


This modification is successful because it highlights leadership, management, and communication skills that are likely listed as necessary for the position. It also rewords the experience to be concise and results driven. Also note that the technical skills are removed. If the job posting doesn’t list technical skills or just gives a general area of research that is preferred, don’t provide an exhaustive list of all the assays you can perform. Stating that you have research experience in a general area is very likely enough. However, if specific technical qualifications are listed as required or preferred, you should definitely include them!


Another way to highlight your most relevant skills is to create a summary section (often called a “Qualifications Summary”) at the top of your resume. This section should distill your top 2-3 skills that demonstrate why you are the best choice. Think about: What values and key strengths do I bring? What are my top selling points? Which of these line up with the job posting? If the posting mentions a degree requirement, you can consider including that in your statement as well. An example from the same resume might be:

Medical molecular biologist with XX years of research experience and XX years of project management experience. Successful completion of a PhD from Yale University. Proven skills in management, budgeting, scientific communication, and research techniques.

This statement again highlights the leadership and management skills likely listed in the job posting. Look for more information on writing your qualifications summary in the next blog post!


4. Research the company you are applying to

In addition to the job posting, you should also research the company itself to get an idea of the corporate culture. You can also ask for an informational interview with people currently at the company to gain insight. Not only is this great information for a future interview, you can incorporate phrasing and key words about company culture into your resume. This will allow recruiters to see that you might be a good “fit” with the current team. For example, a company might be team-oriented and collaborative or fast-paced and deadline driven. You could word your experiences slightly differently based on this knowledge:



Lead an investigation developing novel therapeutics for Z cancer, which resulted in 6 publications, 1 patent, and 18 presentations


Company 1:

Lead a collaborative research team in investigating novel therapeutics for Z cancer, which resulted in 6 publications, 1 patent, and 18 presentations


Company 2:

Lead a fast-paced project for the development of novel therapeutics for Z cancer, which resulted in 6 publications, 1 patent, and 18 presentations


Be sure that modifying your wording doesn’t incorrectly represent your experience.


Remember that the point of tailoring your resume is to make yourself the ideal candidate for a particular job posting at a specific company. So, don’t use the same tailored resume for different postings. Revamp and rework your resume for each application!


**Tailor your resume and share your experience with us**


Share your thoughts below by clicking the “Leave a Reply” link or by clicking the chat bubble in the top right of the post.



  1. Optimize Your Resume if You Want to Get the Job
  2. Resume Optimization Without Dishonesty: Keeping it Real
  3. What it Really Means to “Tailor Your Resume”
  4. How to Tailor Your Resume and Gain More Job Interviews
  5. How to Tailor Your Resume for an Employer


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