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Job Skills What personal info I should leave out on resume?

  1. Mar 31, 2012 #1
    I was in graduate school, then I have a one year medical leave of absence. Afterward I played instruments (which my instructors can attest, and possibly can support me), traveled, and wrote (which I can put together a pro folio) for one year.

    I want to know if I should mention them when I apply for graduate school in a different program or work. I am in the U.S., and I have to explain gaps in my resume and CV. Which facts (if any) should I leave out? Should I explain why I took the leave, and how it affected my former schooling? How can I get to the point without getting into irrelevant details?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2012 #2
    Please note that the person who will first see your resume or CV is a bureaucrat. They're looking for key words and very little else. I would not bother trying to explain this stuff to someone of that caliber.

    Let the interviewer ask the questions, if you get that far.

    Most of all you need to write resumes that get past the gauntlet that we call HR, (they used to be called nicer things, like "Personnel Clerks"). See http://www.britetab.com/content/how-get-your-resume-past-hr-gatekeepers for a sample on how to get started on this task.
  4. Apr 3, 2012 #3
    No unless it's relevant to the program or job.

    Leave out everything. You don't have enough room in two pages to explain anything, and anything that you put in means that something more important has to be taken out.

    Remember that you are writing a movie trailer/short commercial and not an autobiography. There's a 90% chance that the person reading it won't care about the details at all, and will pass on the resume for other reasons.
  5. Apr 3, 2012 #4


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    First post here on PF for me (I hope I hit the right button).

    Yours is a really common question for job-seekers. I worked in employment services (for my home-state Dept of Employment) and I got this a lot. The other replies are correct. You don't need to account for every iota of time in your history in your Resume/CV. The general guidelines in most manuals, courses, seminars etc for Resume/CV length is relevant-experience dependent. Typically, if you have less than 5-10 years of experience in the particular industry/field you are applying for, one page is the typical max you want to shoot for. A detailed CV for an academic or technical industry can be really different though. A common example is when Doctors fresh out of Med School will sometimes need to do both - CV and Resume - depending on the facility they are trying to get a residency at.

    Graduate Schools (professional programs excepted) will often ask for a Common CV/Resume as an addendum to the actual application.

    For employment (again non-specific industry) you have a plethora of ways to format your resume to highlight your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Try web-searching "chronological resume format" -- if you have big gaps in your work/academic history, you'll want to avoid a chronological format. In your case, you'll need a transferable-skills type formatted resume that highlights all of the things you have learned and are capable of as a result of your time spent out of the academic environment. Often, in your case I would recommend putting a "Highlights of Qualifications" section immediately below your Objective Line. If you feel the need, you can discreetly enter a four or five line chronological lineal bullet point list at the bottom.

    Just remember, the objective of the Resume/CV is NOT to get you the job. Like the others implied -- the objective of the Resume/CV is to get you the interview

    Hope this helps! Good luck - it's tough out there!
  6. Apr 3, 2012 #5
    I think it's a good idea to make a distinction between a resume and a CV. A CV for an academic position is very, very different from a resume.

    The problem with this is that if you submit anything other than a chronological resume, this gets viewed as "I have something to hide so I'm not submiting a chronological resume." You want to try to fill a resume with *something* because even a job working as a supermarket clerk says at least you weren't in jail.

    Having said that if the one year was *during* graduate school, then it's kosher to say that you were in school from year X to year Y and include that year. If it's a year right after graduate school, it will leave a gap, but it's not a serious one since people will assume that you were backpacking or something like that.
  7. Apr 3, 2012 #6


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    ---Indeed, I wouldn't dare send a Resume in place of a CV (if requested), or the reverse.

    ---That's the trade-off. It just ends up depending on where you're applying. Larger organizations tend to be keyword-focused. The best example is the Federal Government USAJobs application -- completely keyword-centric. Smaller organizations - there's that risk of perceived deception. Everything in or out of a resume is a compromise.

    --I think we're getting a little abstract, though still relevant. lucerne, any ideas where you may be heading? That's a crux of this entire thread. A person obviously needs to tailor their credentials no matter where they're trying to gain admittance to. A specific industry or subject would be helpful, as would checking out the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for corresponding requisites.
  8. Apr 11, 2012 #7
    Thank you all for the suggestions! I didn't know about the chronological vs. transferrable skills resume. I have sent resumes to companies, government, and universities before. I suspect that I am not hitting some important points because employers that I have no interest in would contact me. I listed years of research experience in physics, and highlighted skills in math and computation, and for months I am having trouble getting interviews.

    My GPA is too low? (3.65) I am not applying enough places? (20-30) My last year of research work was awful? My choices of leaving school to do something else is just not right with the employers?

    I really want to know how to find an internship or job. I want to apply for transfer this year for an applied math program and want to have relevant work experience.
  9. Apr 11, 2012 #8
    People come out of school with all sorts of silly ideas of how one finds professional work. The reality is this: As long as your GPA isn't terrible (below 2.5), as long as your school isn't better known for its remedial education, you may get the interview.

    What you have to do is to pay attention to exactly what the advertisement says the position is. Be sure to use their keywords in the top half of your Resume or CV (most businesses in North America do not ask for a CV). Be sure to list any practical experience outside of school that you think might be relevant, especially entrepreneurial experience from groups such as 4H, Scouting, and the like. It does not matter if that was back in High School and the like.

    List any professional organizations you belong to. If you do not belong to these organizations, join one. The student memberships are not that expensive and they can provide valuable introductions.

    Remember that you have to bridge the gap between the technical and the business side of research. Your interviewers may want to see that foundation. Also show efforts that indicate initiative. For example, any self conducted research projects, any teaching you may have done, presentations, organization work, and the like.

    I know this sounds weird to someone who really wants to do technical work, but at some level you have to realize that you're working for others who eventually are looking to move up or retire. They're looking for their replacements, or if not that, at least someone who can understand their side of the business.

    Finally, remember that when searching internet job postings, you're just another name in the pile. It helps to find out what kind of work is actually out there, where it is, who is offering it, and the stability and source of their funding. If you do get an interview, do some research on the company itself and try to get some idea if this is the sort of work you want to do. Lastly, don't overlook social contacts. Get to know people in the places where you'd like to work. They can often grease the skids to get you that all important interview.
  10. Apr 11, 2012 #9
    Ummm.... If someone is willing to give you cash for goods or services, then you should at least listen to what they are offering.

    There's a particular way of writing things things. It's important to show and not tell. "I have X years of experience programming in C++, doesn't mean very much." "I worked on projects X, Y, and Z, works better."

    Graduate school GPA's are irrelevant.

    That's part of it. If 10% of your resumes get interviews, that's outstanding. Even if you do everything right, most of the time employers will toss your resume. It's also important to get your resume to the right address. It's amazing how many resumes go straight into a black hole.

    My last job search, I must have sent out 100+ resumes.

    One thing to remember is that you just have to have one person like you.
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