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CV/Resume & Cover Letter Writing for Non-Academic Careers. Brian Rybarczyk, Ph.D. [email protected] Director, Academic & Professional Development The Graduate School UNC Chapel Hill. Career Development. LinkedIn Lab – Oct 14, 3:30-5pm Teaching Statement – Oct 22, noon-1:30pm

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cv resume cover letter writing for non academic careers

CV/Resume & Cover Letter Writingfor Non-Academic Careers

Brian Rybarczyk, [email protected], Academic & Professional Development

The Graduate School

UNC Chapel Hill

career development
Career Development
  • LinkedIn Lab – Oct 14, 3:30-5pm
  • Teaching Statement – Oct 22, noon-1:30pm
  • Interviewing for Academic Positions – Oct 28, 3:30-5pm
  • Career Symposium – Sat. November 1
  • Masters/PhD Career Fair – Nov 20
  • Etiquette Luncheon – January 2015
  • Learn about structures and conventions of application materials
  • Compare resumes and CVs
  • Analyze job ads to help structure cover letters
  • Increase your confidence in applying for non-academic positions - transferable skills
  • Tailor your own CV and cover letter
career trajectory master s
Career Trajectory: Master’s

Source: Wendler, C. et al. (2012) Pathways Through Graduate School into Careers. Educational Testing Service.

career trajectory doctorate
Career Trajectory: Doctorate

Source: Wendler, C. et al. (2012) Pathways Through Graduate School into Careers. Educational Testing Service.







Other Application Materials


how long do prospective employers look at your cv resume and cover letter
How long do prospective employers look at your CV/resume and cover letter?

A) 30 seconds

B) 2-3 minutes

C) 20 minutes

D) throughout the hiring process

what are they really looking for
What Are “They” REALLY Looking For?
  • Communication Skills
  • Experience
  • Productivity
  • Specific skill set based on position
  • Other qualifications specified in job ad


Critical thinking

Team work/collaboration

Communication skills

Business acumen

Project management

Application to new situations




  • Area of research/scholarship
  • Productivity: pubs & presentations
  • Teaching
  • Grant writing
  • Fit with potential colleagues

Strategy Development Process to Achieve Competitive Advantage

Distinctive Competencies –

Differentiation Advantage


Cost Advantage


Value Creation



What do you have to offer that they want?

Activity 1: What’s your Differentiation Advantage?


You can translate the experience you have to the job you’re applying to

Either you have it


skills what skills
Skills? What Skills?

Supervision Skills:

  • Scheduling and monitoring groups
  • Managing conflict
  • Train, coach, coordinate events
  • Develop new ideas, solutions

Interpersonal and Communications:

  • Public speaking, professional presentations, lectures
  • Writing, editing
  • Performance feedback to students
  • Mediation, counseling, collaboration
and more skills
And more Skills!

Research and Planning skills:

  • Creating new ideas
  • Problem-solving
  • Identifying resources, synthesizing information
  • Analysis, program development, outcome evaluation
  • Documentation
  • Research
what can you do
What Can You Do?
  • Who and what you know – connect with others working outside of academia
  • Networking is crucial, most jobs found through contacts, not blanketing job ads
  • Reframe education (transferable skills)
  • Convince expert (hiring manager) and nonexpert (HR person) to move your application along
  • Keywords, targeting works
what if
What if…
  • I don’t have a lot of publications?
    • Explain type of research/project
    • Describe progress of the project
  • I don’t have the right skills to match job?
    • Seek out opportunities to gain experience
    • Think about projects differently
    • May not be the right job for you
  • I have experience in other areas…
    • Highlight transferable skills
    • Management skills, project development, teaching, organization
cover letter advice
Cover Letter Advice



Know your audience

Detailed and organized

Can do all that is required

Non selective, may not be able to fulfill responsibilities

Not serious about THIS position

  • Address properly
  • Match materials to correct position
  • Address all aspects of the job description
  • Stretch your fit for the position
  • Missing/Generic letter
non academic jobs
Non-Academic Jobs
  • May require a resume instead of CV
  • Determine the position’s priorities – reorder CV/resume
  • Translate skills learned to position (in cover letter)
  • Reframe research and teaching to match industry you’re entering…strong communication skills, complex problem solving


  • Selective entries
  • Related experience
  • Work experience
  • Skills
  • Outcome based (results)
  • Quantify
  • Publications & presentations to highlight communication skills (selective)
  • Summary – highlights of experience pertaining to job description, not necessarily goals.


  • Lists everything
  • All academic experience
  • Research/teaching
  • Skills
  • Task/descriptive based
  • Pubs & presentations to highlight scholarly productivity (comprehensive)


Ph.D. English & Comparative Literature – A.B.D., expected 2015

Large Research University, City, State

Dissertation title:


B.A. English Literature, minor Art History – Cornell University 2010


Teaching Experience

Instructor, ENG250 – Spring 2014

Instructor, ENG322 – Fall 2013

TA for English 101 – Spring 2013


Teaching Experience

Large Public University, City, State, Graduate Instructor, 2013- present

ENGL 102 – Grammar and Structure

ENGL 101 – Essentials of Language

Teaching Experience

Instructor, Large Public University, City, State

Grammar and Structure (undergraduates, Spring 2014)Essentials of Language (undergraduates, Fall 2013)

Teaching Assistant, Small School, City, State

Introductory Writing (undergraduates, Fall 2012)



Your name, author 2, author 3. Year. Title. Journal, Issue.


Title of grant, funding agency, duration, amount (role: PI)

Exploration of North Carolina’s Water Quality, Environmental Protection Agency, 2010-2013, $10,000 (role: Director, PI: Dr. Smith)

resume skills outcomes
RESUMESkills & Outcomes

Research Experience

Pubs, grants, presentations

Teaching Experience

Work Experience


resume experience
Resume Experience


Research Assistant, UNC Chapel Hill, 2010-present

  • Directed two research projects focused on the development of new technology to enhance drug delivery to cancer tissue
  • Supervised five undergraduate students, each with unique projects, over three years
  • Published three papers in top science journals
  • Awarded $30,000 in research funding from American Cancer Society

What would your Experience entry look like?

general guidance
General Guidance
  • Know your audience – need to tailor documents for position and place
  • Describe experiences to illustrate marketable skills
  • Highlight results and accomplishments – not just tasks
  • Quantify and qualify
  • Break up long sentences
  • Be consistent – dates, formatting, etc
  • Absolutely no mistakes allowed – Proofread!
  • Importance is shown by order (top to bottom, left to right) reverse chronological order
  • Use text formatting to make information easy to find (i.e. bold, underlines, bullets), and headings but do not overdo it
don ts
  • Forget to seek assistance
  • Length
    • CV’s 3-5 for early career, 15-20 for senior scholars
    • Resume 1-2 pages
  • Include unnecessary information - i.e. interests, hobbies, martial status, age, race, and religious affiliations, astrological sign, kids names, etc.
  • Be humorous or cute
  • Be careful of CV advice from UK websites
  • Pad
social media
Social Media
  • Ensure consistency
  • Dangers of what is public – think about transition from grad student/trainee to professional
    • Blogs, Facebook
  • LinkedIn – (more resume like than CV)
    • Summary important – who, what, why unique

show that you’re connected, you know field


The Chronicle’s CV Doctor

  • Write down and commit to at least TWO follow-up action steps you will take in the next 2 weeks related to developing your resume, cover letter, job search, career development
  • Versatile PhD – Premium Content – Hiring Success Stories – samples
  • University Career Services -
  • Beyond Academe -
  • LinkedIn advice
  • Faculty and other students/postdocs in your depts
  • Resumes