Steele Executive Search, Inc.
Steele Executive Search, Inc.

Curriculum Vitae - A Celebration Of Life

After reviewing thousands of CVs’ over the years I notice that scientists approach their CV’s in one of two fundamental ways.
  1. I Must Make My CV Only Two/Three Pages!!
    These people feel their CV should be no more than two pages long… three at the outside. They have been warned by others that if the CV isn’t simple and brief they run the risk of losing the reader’s attention. They hear that if a CV is longer it will be set aside and passed over for the shorter ones.

    FALSE! Seriously talented scientists cannot be expected to condense their experience into two or three pages. The product of this attempt creates a CV that is either too full of acronyms, bullets, sub bullets and sub-sub bullets that is difficult to understand, or document which doesn’t say much of anything at all!

    Do not fall for the two-page myth.

  2. I Must Add Everything!!
    The other end of the spectrum thinks that they must put everything into the CV from a picture of themselves to every abstract ever presented. The problem with this is exactly what the ‘two pagers’ try desperately to avoid; an overwhelming rambling document that will be set aside for future reading but that future may never come. Limit your CV to publications and talks which are peer reviewed and invited. Abstracts typically are not as impactful because they are not subject to review from peers. I also suggest avoiding publications which are “in process” or “submitted”. Similarly avoid putting in patents “pending” unless the impact of these patents is earth shattering.

Between these two extremes a great life lesson can be learned: How to walk a fine line between the concise and the confusing.

You’ve heard of the “Lipinski Rule of 5”? I offer here the Kazarosian Rule of TEN to help navigate this particular razor edge without falling off on either side.
  1. Put yourself in the position of the person reading the CV.
  2. Assume that these CV’s will be read late in the evening, during personal time, after meetings and a long day at work.
  3. Make it easy to look at. Restrict yourself to ONE clear margin, ONE font, ONE indent, ONE bullet style. Please, no sub bullets!!
  4. Be judicious and sparing in your use of fonts:  bold, caps, italics and underline.
  5. Spoon-feed information to your reader; they will love you for it. Do not play hide and seek with important facts e.g., who was your PhD or post-doctoral advisor, how long were you at each company, where you are in the author list of your pubs etc... The more you force someone to hunt for facts the less likely they’ll take the time to hunt.
  6. Put all (or at least a good seminal list) of pubs and patents on the same document. Do NOT have them as separate attachments. And if you say “Selected Publications” be sure to add how many you have in total. I.E. “20 Selected Publications from 120”.
  7. Choose a font that is easy to read but have fun with something unique. Here are some ideas- Calisto MT, Arial, Catriel, Baskerville Old Face, Georgia, Lucida Bright, Gungsuh.
  8. Avoid falling back on overused, cliché terms. Go to your thesaurus and spend some time wordsmithing. Do not overuse subjective terms such as, “dynamic” “expert”, “world renowned” to describe yourself.
  9. Be careful about spelling and proper grammar.
  10. Emphasize but do not overstate your personal involvement in the drug discovery or development process.
Remember to put down only what you would be able to back up with facts. Always be your biggest cheerleader and remember that this is a representation of your professional life. Curriculum Vitae is a Latin phrase meaning “course of life”. It is meant to be more detailed than a resume and is typically used in academics or scientific community.

Let your CV be a realistic celebration of your professional life!
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