1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Professionally written CVs

  1. Mar 23, 2012 #1


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I was contacted by a professional CV writing company today suggesting tat for around £280 they would rewrite my CV in a professional way. I was also told that companies use software to search for special words and key phrases, this worries me somewhat as my funding will run out in around a year.

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2012 #2
    Unless that CV writing company has people with physics backgrounds working for them (and I haven't found any that do), it's probably a waste of your money, since resumes for technical positions that are written by non-technical people look dreadful. Find a headhunter, and they'll go over the CV for free.

    No. They hire HR and HH to do that sort of grunt work. For financial jobs, some of the key words that people are looking for are

    finite difference
    monte carlo
    stochastic time series

    Bad words to put in a resume are

  4. Mar 24, 2012 #3
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2012
  5. Mar 24, 2012 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I has been self-defeating, at least in the company I work (and interview) for. After getting "caught" by professional looking CVs from people who can't write a coherent sentence, we sit applicants down in an empty room with one sheet of blank paper and a pen, and give them 15 minutes to write a page of information about themselves. If what they produce bears no relation to their CV in style or content - reject.
  6. Mar 24, 2012 #5

    I like Serena

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    A good CV is one that gives the interviewer the information he needs and does so in a clear manner.
    If a professional looking CV does that, but also misrepresents the applicant, that is bad.

    It takes training and reviews from people experienced with interviewing to write a proper CV.
  7. Mar 24, 2012 #6


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I agree with everyone. It is a waste of money. I also agree with twofish-quant. Try to find out the keywords.
  8. Mar 24, 2012 #7
    So people who can't even write a coherent sentence are regularly scoring job interviews at your company, thanks to professional CV writing services? Sounds to me like the CV writing services are doing a great job for their clients, then.
  9. Mar 26, 2012 #8


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    So the big response is that it is a waste of money then? I will talk to the careers office at university about it. The CV I have has gotten me quite a few interviews which I think is it's task.
  10. Mar 26, 2012 #9
    Not really. A CV that gets you an interview for a job that you aren't going to get in the end just wastes everyone's time including the applicant's.

    This is also one reason why companies rely on headhunters and campus recruiting a lot, and unsolicited resumes generally end up in a black hole. A good headhunter or campus recruiter will pre-screen interviewees and if they set over a lot of "duds" then we won't use them anymore.
  11. Mar 26, 2012 #10
    Fortunately, you have a lot of people here.

    One trick to get a resume noticed is to use the right code words, and professional resume writers usually don't know the code words. For example, I claim that I have a Ph.D. in astrophysics. Now anyone can lie and say "I have a Ph.D. in astrophysics", but I can write a paragraph in my resume that was obviously written by someone that knows astrophysics, but most people can't.

    What's really cool is that I can write a paragraph that proves that I've done astrophysics that can make someone who has no experience in astrophysics at all conclude that maybe that I know something about the topic. It's like proving that you can speak French. If you can't speak French and try to make it up, it will sound fake even to someone that doesn't know French.

    Now, what I just did was to mention some of the keywords that people use to see if you really know the language. If you just mention those keywords, then it's not going to help you. It's like trying to prove that you know French by saying "bonjour" repeatedly. If you can use Bonjour in a complex French statement, then that's how you can prove that you can speak French.
  12. Mar 26, 2012 #11


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    So I would use a few buzzwords in my explanation of the PhD explaining the stuff I have used, something like: Solved a boundary integro-differential equation by finite differences and Newton's method.
  13. Mar 26, 2012 #12
    One other thing to remember. The point of the CV is to get you the interview, and if you get the interview, then it doesn't matter how bad the CV is. I've seen some horrible CV's, but it turned out that the candidate was good and got an interview, at which point the CV was irrelevant.
  14. Mar 26, 2012 #13
    If you in fact did solve a boundary integro-differential equation by finite differences and Newton's method and you are willing to get grilled in the interview by another Ph.D. who is an expert in the topic yes. (i.e. where your equations elliptic, hyperbolic or parabolic? What are some of the major gotcha's with Newton's method and how did you go around them? What is the rate of convergence for Newton's method. What are the main alternatives to Newton's method?)

    I'd add a bit more meat. Wrote high dimension algorithmic Boltzman solver using finite difference methods. The HR person who reads this will see blah, blah, blah algorithmic blah, blah finite difference blah, blah, and will forward it to someone that can understand what you did.
  15. Mar 26, 2012 #14


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    If you had done the work then I don't think it would really be a problem would it? Almost everyone uses Newtons's method and it's only really a problem near turning points. Newton's method is really the first algorithm you turn to in these problems and if it works straight off the bat, who needs to look for other methods?
  16. Mar 27, 2012 #15
    Newton's method is wildly overused. A typical mistake is to use Newton's method without calculating the derviative analytically, and besides being slow that can lead to odd behavior like infinite loops. There's a chapter on root finding in numerical recipes and if you mention Newton's method in your resume, then it's a chapter that you should be expected to get quizzed on in an interview.

    Part of the trick in writing a resume is to figure out what not to put on it.
  17. Mar 29, 2012 #16


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I calculate my Jacobian numerically by using a central difference formula, and so fay it is working really very well. My supervisor uses it all the time and he's regarded as being world class at what he does.
  18. Mar 29, 2012 #17
    In 30 plus years of working, I have never used buzz words. I have never known anyone that resorted to buzz words in a CV. However, what some consider buzz words may just be normal vocabulary for me, so I may not notice it. I have always found stating what I have done (work and publications), what I am trained to do, and what areas I am certified to be fine. The "trick", IMO, is getting it across clearly and concisely, so as not to make the CV a laborious read and bore the reader. e.g. don’t write a mini-novel about your education or work history. Your CV is not the place to cover details of any work you’ve done. Your CV may be one of dozens or even hundreds.

    FYI, these days, it seems HR is doing up front CV checks to verify education, work history, certifications, identify gaps in work history, etc. before they come to me. This isn’t really my preference, but it is what it is. Don’t leave unexplained gaps. Don’t overstate job titles. Don’t overstate responsibilities. You get the picture… they do check these things.

    My view may be vastly different than others, but when I get a stack of CVs, I scan a CV looking at the type of work they've done to see if they fit the scope of work I'm trying to cover with the hire. I'm looking at job titles held to get a sense of responsibilities the person has been entrusted with. I'm looking to see if the responsibilities have grown with time (good sign), stayed the same (ok sign), or diminished with time (bad sign). Yes, I do look at spelling and grammar, since a sloppy CV doesn’t say much for your care in preparing important documents.

    I put scan in bold because that’s what I mean. I don’t read a CV. I’m culling out obvious misses, and it takes too much time to read a bunch of CV “filler” material. If you make the cull, then I’m going to do a telephone interview, and that’s where we’d get into details. BTW, if you get a phone interview set up, put the dog outside, turn off the TV, radio, cell phone (useless I calling you on it), screaming kids need to be out of the picture, etc. I’m going to want your undivided attention, and you’re going to want to be sure you get your talking points and questions in too.

    Your cover letter is huge and as important as the CV. I’m looking to see if you know anything about this company. Tell me where you hope to fit in, and that means you better do your homework on this company. Don’t make me feel like this is a form letter that you did a mail-merge to spray the industry with CVs hoping to land a job doing “something.”
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook